Explore the most popular nature trips trails in Trinity Alps Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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.

hiking
9 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 Apparently the parking area was moved some years ago and the AllTrails route is outdated.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.

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
11 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!

backpacking
16 days ago

Good beginner/intermediate backpack trip.

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

backpacking
19 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

backpacking
20 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.

hiking
21 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
21 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
21 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
22 days ago

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

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.

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

My group of six backpacked this route in March of 2014 over a weekend. We started our hike late morning, camped at the Canyon Creek Lakes at the top, spent the entire next day hiking around the bowl and up to L Lake, and then hiked back the next day. March was a little early to be hiking up there and crossing the river (maybe too dangerous in hindsight). The river looked safe to cross on the way up, but on the way back the river had rose significantly and felt quite treacherous. The nights were brutally cold, but L Lake covered in snow was the most beautiful sight I've seen to this day. Climbing up to L Lake can be intimidating for some. I don't recommend bringing your backpack up there. Camp below and make a day hike up there. Did I mention we had the entire place to ourselves the whole time? Best part of it all. I highly recommend this trail; stunning views, waterfalls, rivers, beautiful boulders, and whimsical wooded areas. Be careful when you're hiking around on the rocks and boulders--they get slippery--and be cautious around flowing waters. Don't miss L Lake!

4..0hours to the lake via a a unrelentingly steep trail.

backpacking
4 months ago

Amazing trail, the lakes are beautiful. We hiked up the end of June and beginning of July. Lots of snow up on Sawtooth and some snow on the trial. One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on.

backpacking
5 months ago

What a great hike for exploring and getting a good sample of what the alps have to offer. The Trinity Alps are so beautiful and one of my favorite wildernesses to backpack.

I would rate this more of a moderate hike, due to the steady incline and tricky spots on the trail. Gorgeous views and serene atmosphere. Lake is clear and beautiful. Definitely worth the effort.

hiking
6 months ago

I hiked this trail as a day hike with my dog and a friend in November 2017. I had seen the previous recording of 14-15 miles and thought that I could do that in a day hike at a quick pace. The trail ended up being 20+ miles to Alpine lake from Stuart Fork TH. We got held up for 30+ minutes trying to find a dry place to cross Stuart Fork about 7 miles into the hike. There was no definite dry crossing established, so we took off our shoes and waded through midcalf deep frigid water. The climb from the creek to alpine lake is steep , a good work out , though hard to do at a fast pace when sunset is nearing. We misjudged the elevation and got stuck in some snow for the last mile. Snow shoes would have allowed us to get to the lake, but we ran out of daylight. There was a beautiful waterfall that we accepted as worthy of our climb and started down to cross the creek before it got dark. Headlamps saved the day for the trek back to trailhead. I'll definitely retry this hike as part of a 3 day backpacking trip including Emerald and sapphire lakes when the snow clears and will re-review at that time. Overall, pretty hike, challenging ascent.

it was nice im from there and love the outdoors iv only been to the sinks lake here i come soon

backpacking
7 months ago

This was an awesome 4 day adventure for me and my Buddy.
But, I want to start with a slight disagreement with the All Trails route selection of proceeding directly up (or down) the stream during the "off trail" section to/from Lake Anna. As confirmed by the Rangers I spoke to, and in the book "Trinity Alps & Vicinity," by Mike White, a "better off trail route" for arriving to, or in our case departing from, Lake Anna is to either (if coming in from the North), proceed further along the "official" trail toward Deer Creek Pass, then contour over back to Lake Anna, or if coming from the South, to angle up to the Ridgecrest from the "end" of the "official" Bowerman Meadow Trail, then traverse over to Lake Anna. (I've attached a very, very rough photo - our approx. route is in purple and the ranger's description in green.
Another difference in recommended route selection, would be to avoid the multiple creek crossings in Bowerman Meadow, shown on the Alltrails map, and stick to the meadow trail itself.
Other than those differences, I completely agree with the previous reviews that this is an Epic Backpacking Adventure. We spent 4 days enjoying this Area and will be back. See pics for details.

backpacking
7 months ago

beautiful trail, challenging for sure. Definitely worth the hike. Caribou Lake is breathtaking

I can't even handle how beautiful this adventure was for our family. Epic.

backpacking
8 months ago

The directions provided by Google Maps are unclear if you want to get to the trail head and not park where you must wade across the Trinity River: From route 3, turn onto Bear Creek Loop and that will get you to the trail head.
The hike is not especially long but it is straight up and it gets steeper in the last mile or so. I did not encounter any accessible (late September) water sources until I was well past the halfway point so bring water (1.5 liters was more than sufficient for me). If the campsites at the north side of the lake are taken, there are several campsites further up and along the south side of the lake but that does take work to get to. Once the sun went down, it was chilly and there was frost everywhere late at night and the early morning.
The hike up is worth it because the lake and the surrounding area is beautiful.

Had an amazing 2 nights up here. Absolutely stunning. ❤️❤️❤️

backpacking
9 months ago

We had a great time on this trail. We hikes about 6 miles to middle falls and set camp by the creek. It's nice and shady and plenty of water around. We hung out by the waterfalls and enjoyed the swimming holes!
Once you go pass the middle falls and climb up above the falls, you can no longer set fire - so if you are looking to have camp fire don't go beyond this point.
On Saturday we did a day hike up to the upper lakes, and boulder lake (can do both in 1 long hiking day). Swam in the lakes, and enjoyed the scenery.
So beautiful!! Will be back for other trails in this area!

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