Looking for a great trail in Trinity Alps Wilderness, California? AllTrails has 50 great hiking trails, running trails, views trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Gearing up for a challenge? There are 26 hard trails in Trinity Alps Wilderness ranging from 5.4 to 35.2 miles and from 2,732 to 7,847 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!






dog friendly


wild flowers



bird watching

nature trips





horseback riding

kid friendly

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.

We were unable to complete the hike. It rained all night the previous night and made the water crossing too difficult. The water was too high and moving too rapidly for us to get safely across. We reached the water crossing in about 2 hours from the parking lot, and then spent time exploring off trail. Easy gradual hike up to the fork crossing with lots of water streams

6 days ago

Completed 10/2 as an overnight trip. Good info on taking an hour to drive the dirt/rock road to the campground where the trailhead is. One bathroom at the trailhead. The trail was well maintained and easy to follow. If you get a late start packing in or packing out there is great spots to camp at around mile 5 as mentioned before with fire pits. There was about 2” of snow on the ground when I went. Lakes are beautiful and I wouldn’t say the hike itself is more than a moderate climb with a pack on. Lots of good camping spots once you reached the lakes with great views!

This definitely earns the rating of hard but well worth it. The number one tip I’d give to anyone going is regarding the scramble to the top. At any point you can’t see a cairn for reference, you’re going the wrong way. They’re hard to see going up but are visible if you look. Also, the route that loads when you download this trail shows two different routes to the top (one up and one down obviously) the one that is closest to the falls is outright dangerous, I know this because we followed it. Also if you go back to my earlier point, there were no visible cairns after a certain point. This all gets even harder with large packs and being exhausted from hiking all the way in. Don’t hesitate to stay in the meadows and break up the hike if you or anyone in your group is wore out. We hiked in the fall when the leaves were changing color, enhanced the already gorgeous scenery. The nights were cold, but we were prepared for near freezing conditions. Once you get to the top, well..... the pictures say it all. Enjoy.

Day Hiked 10-12-19. The trail is very well-maintained (and more heavily traveled) than many Trinity Alps hikes. At least 80% of the hike is in the canyon where the air is cooler and the sun doesn’t crest the ridge until late morning. The final portion of the hike is where the views become beautiful as the trees become more sparse. Ample water for filtering throughout the hike. Some decent fall color change around Emerald/Sapphire this time of year.

10 days ago

Follow signs for Papoose Lake unless you’re looking for the Hobo Gulch campground.

10 days ago

This trail is great! I just did this as a two night trip, camped the first night at Morris Meadows, did a day trip to the lakes the second day, and then headed back down the trail and camped at the turnoff for Alpine Lake the second night. I did this as my first solo backpack trip, and would totally recommend it. Trail is easy to follow, not hard to climb and very scenic. The colors are beautiful this time of year. Will absolutely go back.

Steep at .25 to 2.0 and steep downhill for 1.5 but fantastic trip. There is a bit of a trail from the meadow up to the lake for the last mile - go all the way to the end of the meadow. Almost to the base of the falls is a trail of sorts. If you are not seeing cairns every 15’ in the beginning you are not on the right trail. Snowed the second day I was there.

Day hiked 10-5-19. The branch point for Smith/Morris is marked by an inconspicuous cairn that is along the right side of the trail as it approaches Alpine Lake. Hit this turnoff while you’re still headed north. If you begin to turn West toward Alpine Lake or have crossed a creek, you may need to back track to find the turnoff. The hike from Alpine cutoff to Smith is mostly following cairns that are for the first 1/4 of the ascent located amongst manzanitas and brush. There is an occasional piece of pink tape wrapped around a branch to help guide. After cresting the ridge, the final potion of the hike drops down and to the left (west) towards Smith lake. We drifted too far to the left and ended up down-climbing a very steep face to drop down to the lake. Best to try to hit the lake at it’s southeast border, rather than father to the west. One of the more challenging day hikes I’ve done in Trinity. Pedometer clocked us at 20+ miles, though we did a fair amount of backtracking and zig zagging during the final mile.

Really nice and the elevation gain is not too painful or noticeable. The shade is welcome though I didn't have too warm of weather. Camped at Morris Meadows 1st night. Up to the lakes from there the next day. Planned to stay 2nd night but after coming down from summit to camp, it started to rain, so packed up and headed down. There are plenty of sites all along the river from the bottom to a little past Morris Meadows too so can be flexible with planning. I only saw 6 hikers in total in the trip and no one camped at the lakes probably b/c of the cool temps and ripping wind. Looks like could connect to 4 lakes mid way up or near the top head to caribou. Next time!

28 days ago

A difficult hike that I definitely underestimated. Perhaps 1/4 of the hike (the portion that approaches the lake) is off-trail and requires decent navigation abilities. The AllTrails recorded loop in its approach from the Bowerman Meadow side leads up a rock face that would need to be rock climbed. Best to use the AllTrails record as a reference point for the final destination and pick an ascent route that looks feasible. Portions are quite steep and require hands for stabilization. Beautiful views though. A challenging descent as well.

Phenomenal views and campsites. Made it up to Emerald Lake on the first day, and did a day trip the second up to sawtooth ridge. Would highly recommend the out-and-back climb up there, difficult but rewarding! Didn’t make it to Mirror Lake as it was only a 2 night trip, but the granite(?) peaks surrounding Emerald lake was more than enough to look at. Only qualm would be the weekend warriors camping at Emerald lake the second night as they were quite noisy. Our trip was 6/27-6/29.

1 month ago

Completed this hike 9/17/19. A group of folks with the California Conservation Corps were doing trail maintenance at the time, and one of them told me they were clearing up obstacles on the Old Caribou Trail before they finished up as well. You can obtain a Wilderness Permit at the trailhead. I had meant to start my hike on the weekend but moved my start date since I thought I had to wait for the forest service office to open up on Monday to get a permit. Oh well, live and learn I guess, but in case you were worried about such a thing (as I was) you can now rest easy.

Trail is closed due to fire as of 9/15/19

Amazing lake, trail and experience. Only to be surpassed by its cousin lake, Little Bear Lake, the conditions could not have been better and one of the most serene lakes in the Trinity Alps. Being in decent shape I would not categorize the hike in as difficult, as the ascent is pretty steady and consistent across all 4+ miles and is aided by the generous tree coverage over 90% of the trail. No experience with bugs at all and temperatures could not be more ideal. Having ample water is suggested as after crossing the footbridge, there is no real access to water until the last 3/4 mile to the lake itself.

This hike is a grind! It goes pretty much straight up to the lake. I give it five stars because at Echo Lake you are rewarded with one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever been at. There are plenty of little water streams to refill and there is a parking lot for your car at the entrance of the trail. Be aware of that it is a 6 mile dirt road to the trail head, which can be navigated even with a Prius in good conditions.

This is our second time up here and I’d do it again! Lots of bugs for first hour of hike due to being in shade near the creek. However, bugs were not an issue after crossing the bridge. A solid climb the whole way but so worth the effort! Once you get close to the lake, you get an amazing panoramic view out towards Mount Shasta and are surrounded by white granite. Stunning and breathtaking. We had lake to ourselves on Labor Day. When we were headed up to the lake, about seven different parties passed on their way down. Very peaceful and beautiful lake. Awesome spot right when you get to the lake with a fairly flat granite slab to sunbathe and relax on. Just perfect!

1 month ago

This is an easy trial for all ages. The only people that may have a hard time is those who are out of shape and or not use to hiking in higher altitudes. Overall this was a fun hike. The two boulder lakes are great spots for a picnic.

Trail is a relatively easy, wide old wagon road for the first ~4 miles. After that it narrows and makes a gentle climb up to the lake. The lake it’s self is shallow and not a great option for swimming. But the surrounding meadows and ridges that are a backdrop to the area are superb. Many day hike options from Union lake.

This is a challenging climb but very nice varied terrain with a mix of sun and shade. Echo lake is phenomenal and very private. Makes a good base for excursions to four lakes loop or elsewhere. Saw even a bit of snow still just off the trail and near the lakes on the four lakes loop.

1 month ago

Beautiful waterfall and swimming hole midway through the hike. It’s so refreshing to take a dip.

Fantastic hike, well worth the struggle. Beautiful views, unlike anything I have ever seen. It is definitely difficult, but so worth it in the end.

I wouldn’t say this trail is hard by any means; the hardest part is probably the length. The grade of incline is never strenuous, there’s tons of spots for water, and everywhere you look is really pretty. Make sure you take a swim at the lake, you earned it!

1 month ago

Trip report 8/30 to 8/31/19 FYI there is a trail crew staying up on the eastern edge of the upper caribou lake for the next 2 weeks and horses/donkeys are being used to resupply them. This is a beautiful hike that is worth the payout but it’s definitely hard. Basically all uphill on the way there and lots of the trail is loose dirt/dust so be prepared. Best place to stop for lunch on the way up is once yon cross the river before the final major uphill. There’s some great rocks to sit on and even a campsite. About 5 miles in. Bugs were minimal. When you get to the upper lake I would go left towards the granite face. That’s where the best campsites are.

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