Alpine Lake Trail

HARD 10 reviews
#12 of 47 trails in

Alpine Lake Trail is a 15.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Trinity Center, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

15.4 miles
4,337 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly






nature trips

trail running







wild flowers


over grown



Take this scenic detour off the popular Stuart Fork Trail to reach a lake that gets much less traffic than the star attractions further up the main drainage. Free wilderness permit required for overnight visitors. Free campfire permits required for fires and camp stoves. Trails in the Trinity Alps are always open: however, most trailhead access roads are closed or impassable during winter.

4 days ago

I initially reviewed this trail after a misadventure day hike last winter. I returned & backpacked this trail early October 2018, and I am so glad that I gave Alpine Lake another chance. The fall colors were stunning the whole time. I love the yellow maples along Stuart fork trail. The foliage was vibrant - especially from the top (ridge just before the lake) over-looking red mountain. We were the only ones on the trail all day and had the whole lake to ourselves, which was perfect since there are only about two camp sites around Alpine Lake. I will admit, those last 3-4 miles once you cross the Stuart Fork river are strenuous and challenging - but so worth it!

1 month ago

A fairly easy hike until the turnoff for alpine lake. From the turnoff, the trail becomes steeper but the sights from the top are well worth the effort. Very cool approach to the lake with views of awesome rock formations ahead and the valley behind. Round trip probably closer to 18-19 miles.

2 months ago

Difficult hike. First half to the river crossing was relatively flat and easy, the second half was steep with not a lot of access to water. Wanted to make the trek over the saddle to Smith and Morris lake but ran out of gas and camped the two nights at Alpine. Mosquitos were a bit of a pain but nothing beats the view of the sawtooth mountains. Beware, no campfires and camp stoves are allowed with a permit.

3 months ago

The last 2 miles were challenging but definitely worth it! The view of the lake is amazing!

5 months ago

I would have to say it is one of the nicest lake I have been to the first four miles were easy the last three were the hardest I have seen in a long time there are only two camp sites at the lake but don’t worry there will most likely not be anyone there they unlike me got the memo to go elsewhere

5 months ago

As expected, it was strenuous but worth it. We didn’t set off until about 10, so it was pretty hot by the time we got to the unexposed scramble and switchbacks, but we made it to the lake in less than 5 hours at a moderate pace with stops for lunch and to fill up our water and an accidental detour where the trail diverges to the Boulder Creek drainage on the other side of the ridge. The trailhead parking lot was pretty full, as usual on a nice weekend during the summer, and we saw a handful of people on the Stuart Fork trail, but once we veered off to Alpine, we only saw two other people, and they never made it up to the lake, so we had our own private lake on a Saturday night which is pretty unheard of, even for the Trinities. Because there aren’t any big waterfalls flowing in nor a major outlet flowing out, the lake was surprisingly warm, though the sitting water results in the expected layer of algae on the bottom and swarm of insects of all types. By our count, the trail was a little over 17 miles which seemed about right considering the trail map doesn’t include any of the switchbacks, just a straight line up, and the recording has a lot of backtracking. Overall, I’d say it’s not the most gorgeous lake in the area, but offered the most solitude I’ve had yet, so it still gets a 5 in my book.

Friday, December 08, 2017

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.

11 months ago

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Friday, November 27, 2015