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Formerly known as the Salmon-Trinity Alps Primitive Area, the Trinity Alps Wilderness is located 50 miles west of Redding California. The area contains the Wild and Scenic Trinity River in the south and the Wild and Scenic Salmon River in the north. Numerous rushing streams feed into these rivers, many of them emerging from the region's 55 lakes. Scattered stands of timber, most of them virgin, are opened by large meadows with wildflowers in July and August, and shadowed by barren rock cliffs and stark peaks with elevations up to 9,000 feet. Black bears are common (despite the name, they're often colored brown or blond), sharing the area with an abundance of other wildlife species. As much as 12 feet of snow falls on the high country every year. Currently the entire Wilderness (one of the state's largest) is situated on, and managed solely by, the USFS. The Trinity Alps Wilderness contains a total of 550 miles of maintained trails. Numerous loop hikes are available, requiring three to five days to complete. Seventeen miles of the Pacific Crest Trail run through the northern part of the wilderness. There are many areas within the wilderness capable of providing opportunities for solitude.

My first backpacking trip for my 31st birthday! It was still early June and was freezing cold at night, it actually rained and snowed the first two nights. We stayed under the tree cover during the storm and finally made it to the lakes the 3rd day when the weather improved slightly. Of course it was super nice on the way back and we jumped in the river several times!

Good distance for a day hike. The trail gradually inclines most of the way with a few steeper stretches, overall it is pretty easy walking. The Lake is beautiful with multiple areas for people to access the Lake. The creek crossings weren't bad, but there was lower snow pack this year.

Nice moderate hike and very rewarding views for the effort. The one caution is that parts of the trail are gravelly and exposed and trail is narrow so if you have anyone in your family who is acrophobic might be slightly tense.

My wife and I did this hike on 6/11. We are both 57 and found the hike fairly easy. Not the death march that some describe below. 2.5 hours up, about 2 hours back down. Mosquitos not a problem.

An absolutely amazing hike. I went to Emerald and Sapphire lakes and spread it out between three days. Even though I was completely out of shape it was all doable and worth it. The trail starts out easy enough to get you warmed up and gets harder as it progressed.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful trail with nice variety of ecosystems. The trail isn't that steep in most segments but the ascent is fairly constant the entire 4.5 miles to Big Bear Lake, though significant segments are only slightly inclined. Nonetheless, the overall experience is strenuous and requires moderate fitness.

The trail from parking lot to lake and back is actually 9.0 (rather than 7.8) miles round-trip. Apparently the parking area was moved some years ago and the AllTrails route is outdated. You get to the trailhead by crossing the creek right by the parking area and then climbing the wide "road" for about 100 yards, then the (signed) trailhead will be on the right.

Mosquitoes were moderate at the top but their prevalence prevented any prolonged stops on the hike up. Bring bug spray. Wasn't hot that day but I still drank lots of water - bring plenty or a good filter.

The Big Bear Lake area itself is fairly rocky and scrubby and does not have many camping locations. On the other hand even in early June I did the entire hike without seeing anyone else. Took me about 2.5 hours up and 2.1 hours down.

Big Bear Lake connects to Little Bear Lake, but I did not hike it given the time of day.

Beautiful trail. Plenty of wildlife.

Did this as a day hike Memorial Day weekend 2018. More than doable in one day. Almost everyone on trail was backpacking. As expected a good amount of foot traffic on a holiday weekend but nothing compared to a national park. This hike is absolutely stunning. Everything you could ask for on a hike. Plenty of running water. Just be careful of the river/creek crossing. Will need some degree of balance to cross over a log. If you are camping over night there is tons of room at the lakes.

backpacking
17 days ago

Trip Dates: June 1st, 2018 to June 3, 2018

This trail is tough and I’ve done my fair share of tough ones. The difficulty comes with just essentially going uphill for 9 miles. Some parts are steeper than others but seemingly always up. Based on the topo map, it appears that the last 2.5 miles are the easiest... wrong. I’d say they were the hardest as you’re tired and hiking over rubbley granite which grinds on the feet and still plenty of uphill.

The prize at the end (three lake basin), however, is worth it if you are spending an extra day up there to relax. It would be quite a feat to push up there one day and come back the next. We headed up on a Friday and had one day of rest (Saturday) which was highly necessary. The views were breathtaking and we had (quite nearly) absolute solitude! We fished (for trout) and caught 3! Soaked up the sun. Swung in our hammocks and caught up on reading. I even dove into the lake... which is pure snow melt and COLD! But all in all, it was paradise. We headed down the following day (Sunday).

Things to know:

1. There are plenty of water sources along the trail during the dates we went (rivers, brooks and finally, lakes)

2. I never got a lick of reception (nor did I expect it) but I heard you can get it (dependent on your carrier I’m sure if you hike up the ridge (snow covered though)

3. As of the dates we went, the trail was clear of snow and there were only a few little patches here and there up at the lakes. If you hike up to the ridge though, you will run into some for sure.

4. There is trout fishing in the upper lake for sure and they were biting. The ones we caught though were fairly small.

5. The ratio of sun exposed to shade is about 65/35. Doing it in mid-August would likely be pretty brutal.

6. Not a crowded trail. Hardly ran into anyone, so that was nice but also if you get hurt, help is not coming for you anytime soon so be aware of that.

7. During our dates, I hardly noticed the bug situation. It was not too severe, but might be as it gets hotter.

8. Remember before you go to get a Wilderness Permit and Fire Permit (both available at the Weaverville Ranger Station at the self-serve Kiosk, so you can go get that even if the station isn’t open). Both are required even if you only intend on using a camp stove.

Hope this is helpful! Stay safe!

So far, I try to never go to the same TH twice. However, I loved this place so much that I cannot WAIT to go back.
The worst part of this trip, was that it got cut short.
There is a nice campground at...Alpine Lake, I believe. Lots of water sources along the way and creek crossings, which is always fun.
I would say the Morris Meadows Campground is more like 9 miles. It is definitely an ideal location. The second site out of the 3 is huge and had multiple fire rings from previous burns. It would be good for a large group or if a couple families get there.
We experience the most wonderful rain and thunderstorm while there. My friend left her tent open, which made for the immediate departure.
The hike to Emerald Lakes was an easy one, but we left our packs at camp. With our packs, probably would have been not as easy. Hah.
I definitely recommend. Also, just prefer this Wilderness. They aren't as strict. Hopefully, people don't leave big messes and force them to enforce stricter rules.

backpacking
21 days ago

Good beginner/intermediate backpack trip.

were there this memorial weekend no snow on the trail up to the 3rd lake

backpacking
24 days ago

This was an amazing backpacking trip that id recommend to anyone. Our GPS had the mileage longer than this and so did the signs at the trail head.The hike to the canyon creek lakes is more like 16 or 17 miles. It was a busy memorial day weekend but you can still find plenty of solitude. Most of the people are found at around 5.5 miles up near the middle falls. We stayed at boulder creek lakes our first night which were even more beautiful than the canyon creek lakes

Amazing hike with my wife and fur babies

AmaZing trail! Well shaded for the first 10 miles. Tons of water. We brought our dog. We planned to go to alpine lake but the river crossing was too high to ford so we ended up camping near deer creek - 7 miles in - and day hiking to emerald and sapphire. Views of and from the lake reminded me of the eastern sierras alpine lakes. Saw two rattle snakes on the tail right before Caribou trail turn off. Saw tons of other garter snakes. Amazingly we got lucky and there were no mosquitoes and very few bugs. No poison oak. Sapphire lake is the deepest lake in the trinity alps at 200ft deep. Saw some beautiful golden trout swimming.

As for the debate about the mileage: Trail sign says 14 miles to Sapphire. All trails says 12.4 miles and outdoor project maps says 14 to emerald. As an avid backpacker and hiker and trail runner, I would say it felt more like 14miles.
100% recommend this trail!

backpacking
26 days ago

Excellent 3 day hike. Amazing views, crystal clear waters! Rugged in some spots for short duration and parts of the trail just before the upper lakes and around the upper lakes is difficult to make out and follow if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s unfortunate how popular this one is though. You see a lot of ill prepared people due to its popularity. Lots of folks without water filtration/purification abilities. We gave a lighter to one group that had no means to light their stoves and two burning logs from our fire to another group that didn’t know how to start a fire. To be clear, it’s not difficult but please bring appropriate gear.

awesome hike. There are areas of the trail that are overgrown and rain gear is nice to have if there's dew on the brush.

our GPS said this hike was closer to 16 miles RT. just fyi so you are prepared for a longer journey.

this is one of the best hikes I've been on and I hike or snowshoe most every weekend year round.

the first incline and decline are anti-climatic but once you hit the valley and start up towards the lake the views are incredible. we scrambled up to the ridge above the lake and afforded a good view.

roads to trailhead were in fairly good condition. we made it with a Honda civic but I had to jump out a few times and move some rocks out the way that were not going to clear.

hiking
26 days ago

Really great doggie-friendly backpacking trail with lots of different terrains and waterfalls

Take caution around L Lake. We saw fresh bear tracks in the snow.

backpacking
27 days ago

Beautiful hike. Several waterfalls and lakes. We did Sat-Mon with 2 nights at McKay Camp. Wish we camped further up the trail but we arrived very late on Sat and decided to just say hike to the lakes and back. When I recorded the trail coming back from the lakes, it said it was closer to 8 miles rather than 7

backpacking
27 days ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike! Went Sun-Mon of Memorial Day weekend and there were a decent amount of people, but it wasn’t super crowded. Our GPS said it was closer to 9 miles than 7 like this says, probably doesn’t account for all the switchbacks going up the mountain.

hiking
28 days ago

One of the best hikes we are ever done!! Superb views and the waterfall was awesome. Must do !

Amazing and serene

Great hike with a difficult last leg to get up the mountain. Well worth the effort to camp at such a beautiful area.

Make sure you have rain gear if you are starting AFTER a rainy night. The bushes going down from Hunter's Camp soaked me even with my emergency poncho. Made the trek very unpleasant.

Wanted to do Thompson as well, but I felt there was way too much snow still to do safely without more gear.

The scramble to the top of the falls starts earlier than I expected. Find the correct way up or you might end up on some sketchy 4th class like I did.

Didn't see a single person from the beginning of the road to the trailhead till I drove back down. Be careful. With no cell service for miles and miles, a twisted ankle could turn into quite an epic for the solo trekker.

Grizzly Lake might be the most beautiful place in the world in "winter" conditions.

Also. Ticks.

Trail is a bit overgrown, but still a great place for solitude. The lakes are clear and beautiful!

backpacking
1 month ago

Amazing views! Wish I had been in better shape when I went. Would highly recommend.

backpacking
1 month ago

I hiked in Saturday morning to the second Canyon Creek lake. It took about 5 hours from the trailhead, with stops to snack and take photos along the way. There was plenty of water along the route. It was never too challenging or too steep. There was one other group camping at the second lake but we rarely saw each other. There were snow patches here and there and some of the trail included hiking through shallow snow. It wasn't too hot or too cold. It took 3.5 hours to hike out the next day. The trip was full of natural beauty. I definitely hope to return.

Have done this hike twice now, once to the lakes and this weekend just to Morris Meadows, as I was intending to do Alpine Lake on an overnighter, but Stuart Fork was too high to cross this early in the year, and I got a late start to the trailhead.

Overall, the trail is pretty moderate with mostly a gradual incline until the scramble below the lakes. As others have mentioned, however, the trail is longer than advertised. I submitted an edit recommendation for the trailhead lat /long to be revised, so hopefully that will help make the description closer to accurate. There are several areas with multiple established camp sites, i.e. where you veer left to do the Alpine Lake trail (there is a sign), off to the left around mile 7 where the trail has a decline back to the level of the river, and at the south end of the meadow, which is around mile 9, to name a few.

This time, my hike was very quiet, I only saw about a dozen people over the course of 2 days, but late last June, the trail was much more crowded, and the people in the camp site next to us got drunk and obnoxious in the evening which is, unfortunately, probably not that uncommon of an occurrence given how busy this trail can get during peak season (though still nothing compared to much of the Sierras or the Tahoe area). Still incredible though and absolutely worth the effort!

some snow past 3 miles, but mostly passable. no visible poison oak or ticks. a couple flowering plants but almost no flowers yet.

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