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I underestimated the difficulty of this trail and busted both my knees doing it all in a one day hike with no trekking poles. I however don’t regret the majestic reward for completing it.

generally: amazing backpack in trinity alps with variety of scenery (river, meadow, valley, mountain ridges, alpine lakes) with many options of camping locations at various distances, uncrowded, gorgeous fall colors
Road conditions: paved until last mile, dirt road with some potholes but passable in low clearance vehicle
Permit: free and unlimited at weaverville ranger station
Trail; well maintained until Morris meadows then slightly overgrown to the lakes
Scenery: first 9 mile along the river with vibrant fall colors; numerous campsites along the river; meadow w sweeping views of the valley, hike to the lakes w continued fall colors, stunning views of sawtooth ridge, gorgeous alpine lakes at the end
Weather: hiked in October and warm (60-70s) during the day and chilly (20-30s at night) but manageable w a fire (allowed at the meadow not the lakes)
Wildlife: birds, deer, close encounter w a mountain lion at our campsite(!); no bears or rattlesnakes
People: saw a handful on our way in and two on our way out; no one camping at the meadow with us or up at the lakes

backpacking
25 days ago

I took a prolonged 5 day trip out on Stuart Fork Trail and I was not disappointed. The views up to Emerald and Sapphire Creek are amazing and the trek is well worth it. The north route to Sapphire Lake was a bit of a climb but from my understanding easier than the southern route.

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful lake. One of my favorites in the Trinity Alps. Moderate hike with some scrambles but not too difficult. The few campsites are on the North side with picturesque views of awesome granite peaks with snowmelt falls cascading down the face.

hiking
1 month ago

Perfect amount of hiking and scenery. Loved this hike!

I gave this 4 stars because of how much traffic there was when we were there. We thought we wouldn't run into too many people due to the time of year and remote location. But there were literally 7 different parties of groups more than 5 people in each party. Everyone was nice, but we like minimal people when we go backpacking, as does everyone I guess :) but I guess maybe they all had the same ideas as we did? lol. :)

Start early in the morning. We started at 10 and we made it to the meadow after 7 hours of hiking. We are in decent shape, however we packed way too much weight. Each of us were carrying nearly 60 lbs! Way way way too much. There are spots to fill up with water once in the gulch, but the trail does steer away from the creek for a long while. I recommend refilling water bottles once you get to the first established campground at the bottom of the decent. Then you should be good to the next watering spot. Like others said before, the CCC did an awesome job clearing the trial! Thanks for the hard work CCC! The meadow is nice, as there were various campsites along the creek. We were worried that we would be close to all the other people, but we weren't. The first night we had two black bears check us out. We had a large dog with us, that warned us of them. They did not mess with us, but be prepared for large wildlife! After staying the night near the meadow, we hiked up the scramble. Follow the stacked rocks as that is the easiest way. The scramble is no joke, if you do not like heights, this might not be the most pleasant situation. Large boulders and steep cliffs grace you throughout the climb. Was a little worried as we were hiking up as people were coming down, knocking rocks towards us, which is something that happens with steep grades, but can be dangerous. If you get injured out here you are screwed, unless you have a gps device, which we did not :( We all concurred at this point, that we were foolish carrying such heavy loads going up the scramble. We finally made it to the lake after some weak knees and conquering some fears of heights. We were worried also about finding a campsite as there were so many parties that past us on the way up. We found a campsite though away from all the large parties to the left when you first get to the lake. We thought campsites would be minimal, but there are more than you think. The lake was amazing, but unfortunately it was very windy that day. The wind calmed at night and stars were spectacular. We were away from people and had no issues with enjoying our own private camp.

We ended up going back the next day to split our hike home in two days. Glad we did, as we had a person in our pack hurt their knee. So it was slow moving. So to wrap it up. Pack light, and prepare for a strenuous but unforgettable adventure!

backpacking
1 month ago

Stellar hike, great challenge to make it to the peak!

Amazing destination. CCC crew has done a lot of trail maintenance. If you plan to sleep on the granite be sure to pack an insulated pad. The scramble is easy if you go way left but otherwise it can be a little sketchy. Well worth the hike.

We just hiked to the lower lake this weekend. It took us
Approx 6 1/2 hours there and 3 1/2 to get back to the trailhead. The home there was a bit challenging. Coming down was easy and fast. It’s absolutely gorgeous! We caught trout and there was a large bear across the lake from us. We decided to go back down 1 1/2 miles where we had camped the night before to spend our night. .

Did a day hike to the Canyon Creek Lakes and L Lake. For the distance, the elevation is quite tame for most of the hike up to the Canyon Creek Lakes. For those who want to journey a bit farther up to L Lake, the trail is loosely marked with cairns as it winds up a drainage area. Beautiful views of the valley from L Lake, worth the extra climbing effort. Will definitely be back to camp when more of the summer smoke has cleared. Passed 30-40 people on my round trip hike over Labor Day weekend.

Really enjoyed our hike to Canyon Creek Lakes. Yes, it was a challenge but nothing horrible for the mountains. I always expect a slog getting to the reward of lovely scenery and hanging out in a natural environment. Took a day hike to the upper lake. Seemed like there were many more camp areas than the lower lake so if you have a larger party I would plan on staying there. Boulder Lakes had great granite vistas. Quite an uphill climb with narrow trail. Get there early for the better camp spots. Beautiful.

Hiked this trail many times, & always look forward to doing it again.

An amazing trail! Scenery is unparalleled. Trail is steep at first both up and down for first few miles, then steady up. Took us (average in shape guys) 6.5 hrs up to 1st camp. 1st camp for us was below the falls. 4.5 hrs back from 1st camp to trail head. Would recommend a 3-4 day excursion. One day up to camp (8.5 miles). Second day up to the lake and then up to peak. Then 3 rd day head back if your hurting for time. Stay an extra day and absorb the beauty. On the way back, if your headed NE, go to the kid friendly Etna Brewery for a stellar burger and home brewed root beer. I can’t wait to go back. I went with my 10 and 12 yr olds, but they are mentally tough and physically fit kids. Keep their packs 25 lbs or less.

One of the coolest hikes I’ve done! Make sure to start early since camping spots started to fill up by the time we got close to the lake around 1:00. Beautiful waterfall about half way; great opportunity for a little rest, and refilling on water. Last 2 miles or so are tough, lots of switch backs and exposed in the sun, but worth it for the views and lake.

You do need a permit. They can be picked up the day of (or day before) at the Weaverville Ranger station kiosk, no cost.

can't get any better

Pros: Incredibly, unbelievably beautiful and humbling landscapes that get better and better as you head up the valley. Perfect temperature lakes for swimming (exactly the right reward after the final push across hot exposed rock). Many opportunities to explore surrounding peaks as day hikes if you make a base camp at the lakes for a few days. Solid workout hiking in with overnight packs. Gigantic old trees. Lots o stars. Did I mention that it is just incomprehensibly beautiful?

Cons: Huge numbers of people hiking to the falls and camping at the lakes on the weekend in summer (which should seem obvious but I neglected to consider), so select your time wisely and do not expect solitude depending on when you go. Some dirty toilet paper here and there, but mostly trash and waste free, so please keep it that way. Most of the hike is high above Canyon Creek on the valley side, so you don't get to be near water a whole lot save for a few points.

Overall, if you're trying to decide whether or not to go, definitely do it. Be mindful of the volume of people it attracts and take care to keep this area as clean as possible.

phenomenal hike

Right out of the gate is a large push uphill with decent elevation gain. Not bad from trailhead but coming back TO the trailhead is a burner. After peaking you will encounter sharp annoying brush that encapsulates you. this leads to a split, go left. Ensuing is an easy hike along the river and over a ridgeline. Eventually you hit the meadow which is nice but should be passed on for a campsite at the top of the ledge. The scramble isn't bad at all, a few areas with loose scree and dirt that should be used with caution, very possible to do with a large pack. Follow the cairns, approaching the scramble there is a rock slide to the left behind a small flower patch that appears to be the trail. Do NOT take this, very dangerous. The real path is more to the right. Larger granite slabs await at the top for the final push to the lake. Enjoy the views and take a dip. very refreshing.

plenty of water filling spots, gets very hot, alot 4-6 hours depending on shape. Possible in 3. Start very early to avoid sun. no boots necessary, used pair of keens and performed great. lots of tick opportunities,
deet up. road up in good condition. watch out for fallen rocks

First I want to start with the TH. The directions given are funky and confusing on the link of this site. I would follow this link for overall better information: https://hikemtshasta.com/trails-further-afield/trinity-alps-trails/grizzly-creek-trail/ I found that many people slept at the trailhead the night before. We slept at the North Fork Campground right at the turnoff to the TH. It is a pack in/out campground with a bathroom. We were the only ones there while the TH was crowded with cars. There seemed to be plenty of parking at the TH. Mileage on this site is very off! I had 2 GPS devices and both read just over 8 miles one way to the meadows and another 1 mile scramble to the top of Grizzly falls. This means that round trip it was just over 18 miles. Be prepared for that. This was a beautifully amazing hike that was extremely difficult. If you are in shape you will have no problem. There is plenty of water along the trail so you don’t have to pack it all. Camping is in the meadow and there is space across the water. The scramble was insane and going down was even a greater challenge. People were camping at the lake, but it is more exposed in thunderstorms, which there were when I was there. It was also 91 degrees which made this hike even a greater challenge. Wildlife and deer are plenty. DO not leave ANYTHING outside your tent except for the food you hang. The deer will eat it. They did that to my friend and several other hikers.
I highly recommend this hike for fit people who want an extra challenge. The views are stunning and worth it.

The trail is pretty easy to follow, but maybe they haven’t gone out there yet to clean it up... bushes were covering the trail throughout. & huge trees were in the way of the trail that you have to climb over (not hard to do if you don’t have back problems). Lake is beautiful & if you want there’s random camp sites around the lake. All together it was a little over 4 miles. Would’ve given it more stars if the trail was cleaned up.

backpacking
4 months ago

Trail completed (7-12-18) this trail is for no faint of heart. I recommend experienced hikers only, and common knowledge of maps and navigation. I flaged the trail off with pink flagging. I spent the night at alpine lake the hiked up to Smith from there. To get to Smith trail head, head back to the trail that takes to you alpine lake. After you cross the outlet creek of alpine lake begin to keep an eye out for the pink flaging or look for cairns to northeast off the marked trail. once you spot the cairns or flagging the begin the hike. good luck! the lake is beautiful and fishing is good too.

this will help, https://www.backpacker.com/trips/redding-ca-stuart-fork-to-smith-lake

Great hike. A little bit of everything. Stream and waterfalls up in to sculpted granite peaks and high mountain lakes. We did it as a 4 day 3 night trip. Night 1 we stayed just above the meadows (approx. 10 miles in) at a great campsite right on the Stuart Fork. Day 2 we went up to Emerald Lake (approx. 5 miles) and found a cool camp spot on the far end of the lake. There is some fishing opportunities in the lake. Day 3 we headed back down and stayed at another awesome campsite off the Stuart Fork again about 5 miles in from the trail head. Day 4 back to the parking lot by 11am. Very steady manageable grade up to the lake. Some bugs in early July but jungle juice did the trick.

We hiked the trail to Emerald Lake, setting up camp at Morris Meadows (~8mi from the trailhead, 4-5mi to Emerald Lake). The trail is well shaded for the most part to Morris Meadows and subsequently is densely packed with vegetation. The tree cover is a blessing as the trail does get pretty hot in the afternoon. However, it is also a bane since it eliminates any views of the peaks surrounding the forest. I found the trail to be fairly challenging mentally due to the monotony of just walking through the forest for several miles. It is relatively easy physically, which is probably one of the reasons why it is as crowded as it gets - our campground ran out of campsites by 5 pm.

On the plus side, this region is rich in wildlife - we saw bears, snakes, deer and many birds. Water is also abundant, so you don't have to lug around much if you carry filtration equipment. As a plus, if you have a water-loving dog, they will have a blast (ours definitely did). Finally, the permitting process is one of the easiest in all of California.

well deserved hike went in on walked in on Sunday before 4th of July very very busy parking lot was full must cross paths was about 18 other hikers walking down the hill it well physical demanding Trail. took our time going in to soak it all in first night stayed probably about a mile past the hobo hobo Gulch intersection. continue the next morning to The Meadows which were beautiful time we got there there was no one left in the Meadows sub for one small group that ended up going back down Sunday night so we have the Whole Meadow to ourselves which was awesome. the next morning we proceeded to Summit Caesars Peak. it was awesome I cannot explain words and pictures cannot Define the beautifulness of our Northern California area. downside numerous people decided to leave the trash in Camp. and Scattered about the trail I just reminder people if you want to continue exploring places like this pack in and pack out.

went there at the end of June weather was perfect.scenery offered a variety of wild flowers as well as jagged rock formations. wild fern lined the valley floor with plenty of places ro camp. with sun light lasting until 9.45 PM gives plenty of time to make it to the top even with a late start. enjoyed this hike and will do it again.

Great hike, questioning why this is labeled as difficult. This is a very timid hike with great views throughout.
I would suggest to hike about 5-6 miles and set up a basecamp along the creek. Hiking to Boulder Lake was a little bit of a scramble, but very doable for most.
Overall, good beginner hike!

hiking
4 months ago

The trail starts off as a very gradual ascent at the Stuart Fork trailhead but once you ford (call the ranger station in Weaverville to make sure the river is passable) the Stuart Fork river, it gets steep and stays steep till Alpine Lake: Make sure you stock up on plenty of water after you cross the river because we did not encounter any viable water sources till Alpine Lake (Don’t leave your bug spray or your tent at home! There were a lot of mosquitoes all day and night at Alpine Lake in mid-June!). From Alpine Lake till you get to the saddle above Smith Lake is about one mile or so but it is a route rife with boulder fields, steep dense brush, slabs of rocks and exposed sun. It took us hours to make the saddle. There are very few spots with water access and a place to pitch tents at Smith Lake: the best spots are mostly on the southeast side of the lake by the drainage. Morris Lake has better lake access for swimming and fishing, so we camped there. This is a very long and tough hike.

Went in May, one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever done.

Canyon creek never disappoints!

hiking
4 months ago

This was a fantastic hike! We started at the Parks Creek Trailhead and hiked in along the PCT, meeting many other hikers along the way. There was an abundance of wildflowers and the seeps are flowing, gorgeous! Mount Eddy was socked in at the top, but still worth the trek.

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