Explore the most popular river 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.

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!

11 days ago

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

14 days 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.

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 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.

4 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.

5 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.

I backpacked to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes as a 2 days backpacking trip with my dog near the end of October. It was stunning the entire way from trailhead to the lakes. Fall 2017 in the Trinities was a very vibrant autumn and this trail really showed off the yellows and oranges of the deciduous trees lining the trail. The contrast of dark green evergreens vs yellow maples vs the Stuart Fork creek was beautiful. I camped up at Emerald lake, just barely made it before sunset - I clocked 16 miles on my fitbit. There was only one other tent there. I passed only 2 other couples along the trail and they ended up camping at the meadows. Walking through forests, along a creek, through a random meadow, crossing a few small waterfalls and constant views of the valley's peaks. It was a very secluded hike. The trail is well maintained. The scramble up to Sapphire lake gives a beautiful view of the valley you just climbed up.

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

7 months ago

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

First of all, you need to know that our track, from China Gulch trail head all the way up to the lake was 10.6 miles, one way. The hike was absolutely amazing, changing scenery every other mile or so, with the finale being the falls, then grizzly lake and Thompson peak, stunning!

But this hike is hard, and the mileage reported on alltrails is inaccurate. The first 2.2 miles are spent climbing 1500 ft, then the next 1.7 miles descends 1300 ft both grueling. The next 4.5 miles or so is steadily up hill but not nearly as steep as the first section. Then it gets really good. After leaving the trees behind you emerge to see the falls and the wall of rock on which Grizzly lake is perched. Its beautiful. But the trail gets tricky. Walking through boulders on a very rocky trail you start climbing more and more over the next half mile. Then the trail starts to take you up the grizzly scramble. This is when you turn to go up the cliff-like valley wall. The trail is marked by stacked rocks and zig zags up the hill. Very shortly after the steep ascent starts you will see a creek run off that seems to take you up the hill, stay left and do not try and use the run off as the trail, the rocks are very loose and you're better off on the trail. Stay left and follow the rocks. about a quarter mile (estimate) up the hill the trail will lead to a rocky channel that you will need to use hands and feet to crawl up. After making your way though this there is more steep trail for another half mile or so. The final 3/4 of a mile is still mostly up hill across large boulders until finally see the lake and coast down the rocky terrain. The final bit of the trail is marked by stacked rocks, follow the rocks and try not to stray, they will lead you the best way. It is also important to remember where you came up because it is even more important to follow the rocks on the way down. The gps said 10.6 miles by the time we reached the lake from the trail head. We hiked 'fast.' We were wearing packs but we rarely stopped and not for more than 2-3 minutes, and it took us 5 hours to hike in, and 4.5 to hike out - the return down the steep section took us an 1 hr 15 minutes. This hike was beautiful in so many ways, but it was challenging. It was cool at night by the lake, I would estimate it got down to 34 degrees, and windy (late September). There was fresh snow on Thompson peak, but only an inch or two in the shaded sections.

There are a few reviews on here with slightly different mileage markers, I don't know if mine is more or less accurate, but we did not stray from the trail and our measurement said 10.6 miles one way. I highly recommend this challenging hike!

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

Great hike with lits of beautiful waterfalls. Amazing scenery from the Meadow and a fun scramble up to the lake. It was great to get out of the smoke. Up to 7 deer would come and visit our campsite.

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

8 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!

The best solo backpacking trip I've done so far. Firstly, this is 15 miles from the trailhead to Emerald Lake or back. I used my fitbit to calculate the return route on my last day.

Here's what you should know:

1. Dirt Road Approach is about 2 miles so drive slow and definitely make sure you have tools just in case.
2. No service about 30 min before you even get to trinity county so be aware.
3. Trail has lots up ups and downs through the forest but so worth the hike, make sure you stay hydrated and stop for snacks/rest.
4. Hiking shoes are a must.
5. Ran into 6 snakes, but they slithered away so just watch where you step.
6. If you're camping at the Meadows for your first night, note that you will approach a sign right before it that breaks a trail in half. The right will say "trail", the left won't have a sign but head left into the meadows to camp. Going right will just take you further up the trail. Morris Meadows is also 9 miles from trailhead, just fyi if you're keeping track.
7. There are plenty of streams to refill your bottles.
8. Once past the meadows, its like walking through a jungle. Its sooo incredible.
9. I camped out at the top of Emerald lake next to the waterfall. Didn't run into a single animal. I definitely recommend it.
10. Keep your food secured and away from your camp, lots of bears (I've heard) and critters.
11. You can camp at several creeks/lakes before or past the meadows as well. Deer creek is great if you're going solo. The waterfall will put you to sleep in no time.
12. Lastly, enjoy the beauty of this magical place !!! I'm so glad I went.

Directions are difficult here's a good link
Absolutely beautiful and worth the hike about 12 miles one way so 24 round trip. The trail marked on map is off route a bit and does not show the "Scramble" to the extent that it is! 2.5 miles up boulders to get to grizzly lake! Some turn around here but think twice it's what make the trip!
Note- if you can't put your dog in a backpack or holder of some kind you shouldn't take them because it's too dangerous.

This trail will kick your butt! Long steep hot cold. Worth every ache and pain!

Enjoy 12 mile curvy road into the Ripstein campground located at the beginning of the trail head. Recommend that you come up stay night and hit trail early to cover ground before sun gets to hot! Great trail for the adventurous soul! Continuous uphill grade for 8 miles thru pine forest and granite switch backs. Traverse the log bridge to stay on trail. Take a cold water dip in a nice deep natural blue hole with a water fall shower. At the split you can stay about quarter mile in toward bolder creek and burn fire as no fires are allowed around lakes. Camping spots thru out trail and surround both upper and lower lake. Temperature drops at night so be prepared. Fish jumping in lake all day and evening bring a pole or a float. Family and Dog friendly trail. Moon and star lit night makes for a blissful sky gazing evening. Loved it recommend it to all just bring your stamina for the uphill grades.

9 months ago

Great hike/camp with the dog.
We went in mid-August and there was daily afternoon thunderstorms.

- if you are late on reaching the trail heads, there are plenty of camping spaces along the trail appox 4 miles in. (Ripstein Campground is also good to prep - but limited scenery)
- the trail map here is a close appox of the actual trail. There are some minor switchbacks not shown.
- the final water crossing can be tricky to find (the map will lead you to the wrong place). Look for a small wooden 'trail' sign across the stream on a tree. Also look for a long log that goes across the stream.

Emerald and Sapphire Lakes are both amazing. Here is a trip report with pictures that I wrote for a backpacking trip out to the lakes and back. https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/trinity-alps-emerald-lake/

way too many people but awesome

9 months ago

This is one of the best hikes I have done till date, period! Some might argue, there are similar granite formations in Yosemite etc, but this one is with low to no crowd. I would have met 20-25 people on the whole trail between 2 days. Melted snow made lakes, surrounded by tall granite peaks with green trees everywhere make it one the best scenery. The hike provides all kinds of terrain, rock, mud, marshy land, creek crossing and what not. I can count 4 water falls disregarding any falls above the Upper Canyon creek lake, and each one is more beautiful than another. We did this hike in 2 days since this was our first backpacking. We camped next to a waterfall (~7 miles from trailhead). The view from campsite overlooking the valley was simply the best. I underestimated the beauty of this wilderness. Given chance, I would definitely want to visit this spot some time again in future for few more days and do Little lake on top of it.

9 months ago

Great Lake and the other two lakes are just as amazing. Hike in and of early in the morning to avoid the heat.

Went a few weeks ago with some friends and it was a beautiful hike with views of mountains and waterfalls popping out as the trail turned and wound its way up the mountains, a gorgeous crystal clear green river that followed us for much of the way, and the beautiful granite and mountain-surrounded lakes at the end. The two less ideal aspects of the trip were the facts that the Upper and Lower Canyon Lakes are completely exposed with very little shade, so spending a day up there can be quite brutal (the water is freezing cold so you can't really stay in there for too long), and the hordes of people all along the trail and at the lake. it was very difficult to find a campsite and you were always within view and earshot of other groups, not to mention the strain that must put on the ecology. On the way back, we stopped by the crystalline river to have lunch, but it was marred by the smell of human waste. Please bury your waste and keep it off the trail and definitely at least 100 feet away from water.

9 months ago

I'm getting ready to head up here in three weeks. Any idea of how the fishing is?

9 months ago

This was my awesome dog's first backpacking trip and my first 'solo', and I could not have asked for a better trail. Unfortunately I got a late start, getting to the trailhead around 2:15pm. The meadow, wildflowers, creeks, and cliffs were breathtaking all the way up. We were tempted to stop early and camp by the creek about a mile before the trail junction but decided to push on, up the very steep granite to the lower lake.

With a few stops for rest and photo ops, we made it up to to the Lower Canyon Creek Lake as the sun dipped behind the mountain tops around 8pm. We had a few neighbors around the lake, but none close enough to feel crowded. We stayed up late and star-gazed, then slept in late to wake up to a blistering morning sun. After eating breakfast and spending a bit of time playing fetch in the lake, we packed up and headed back down the trail.

I wish we would have been able to stay longer, but I didn't take into account how hot the granite surrounding the lakes would be and was worried about burning my pup's poor feet. Additionally, by my second water stop on the hike it, my steripen decided to kick the bucket. Although I had Iodine tablets (which I used when I had time to wait), I ended up drinking water straight from the creeks. Call me crazy but the potential giardia was well worth the views.

I cannot wait to go back to this trail, hopefully by the end of the summer. Next time, I plan to stay in the Ripstein Campground the night before my trip so that I can get a very early morning start before going all the way up Ell Lake.

Long story short: I highly recommend this trail for the experienced and hydrated hikers. Your dog will love it and you will leave hungry for your next trip.

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