Canyon Creek Lakes & L Lake Trail [CLOSED]

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Trinity Alps Wilderness

Canyon Creek Lakes & L Lake Trail [CLOSED] is a 16.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lewiston, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 16.9 miles Elevation Gain: 3,753 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

closed

As of September 2019, this trailhead is closed due to the Middle Fire. Please check here for updates: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/stnf/alerts-notices/?aid=54560 Hike up to a hidden lake with many great views of the Trinity Alps. This trail involves a lot of climbing up switchbacks and wading through some pretty deep water.

hiking
9 days ago

Scramble on to Kalmia Lake (can be reached via L Lake or directly from Upper Canyon Creek Lake)

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

We left July 13 and came back July 15, 2019. You need a permit for this hike and can pick it up at the Weaverville Ranger station, even though they’re closed on the weekends. Upon arrival around 10:30 am, the parking lot was overflowing, but we were lucky and swooped into a spot of someone leaving. The journey there was GORGEOUS! The trail was mostly shady with short duration of sun exposure. You start in a forest, cross a river (all 4-5 river crossings had stepping stones and we didn’t get our feet wet except the one to Upper Canyon Creek Lake which came up to my mid-thighs), feel like your in the jungle, then emerge in a pulverized granite trail with views of the alps. Then you approach the “Sinks” with crystal clear flowing water and areas with pools that you can swim in, but the water is freezing! There are several other areas with picturesque views of prestige, light blue streams flowing through meadows with wild flowers in a forest with the alps jetting up in the distance. I felt like I was in Austria! It was so beautiful. The climb was surprisingly not that difficult, with a mostly gradual graded incline until the end. We did not make it to L Lake and set up camp at the Lower Canyon Creek Lake, due to pure exhaustion on our part, as well as our pups. I would recommend having started earlier, because by the time we set up camp, it was starting to get dark. It was not that crowded, the area is very spread out, but we wish we had more energy to look for a cozier campsite. The next morning, on Sunday, we saw 4-5 groups leave and headed to the Upper Lake where we set up camp at a beautiful little site, and had the whole area to ourselves, minus passing hikers headed to L Lake at the trail right next to our campsite. Our older dog was too tired to take a day trip to L Lake, so we never made it. TIPS: There are lots of mosquitoes and flies, so be prepared. There was minimal liter, minus a few areas with toilet paper, so please keep it that way! We brought our pups and used their shoes/socks because a good chunk of the trail was granite. We passed a lot of people with dogs, and most were on leash or could quickly get them on leash. The trail approaching Lower Canyon Creek Lake is a bit tricky to find at times, and there are carins, but multiple carin pathways. Stay way to the left once you see the lake and I would recommend you pay the extra to download the GPS map from All Trails for this hike. There are multiple campsites along the way that look awesome in case you don’t make it all the way there the first day. When I go again, I plan to get an earlier start and try to go on a weekday to avoid crowds and for ease of finding a good campsite.

hiking
10 months ago

Super last minute but if anyone wants to join me I’m gonna head up there 7/2, hoping there will be some other backpackers up there! My instagram is Alyssa.bergdoll message me if you want to join :)

hiking
11 months ago

Trail is spectacular, climb to lower lake isn’t awful by any stretch but will require a couple stops for rest. The climb to upper lake can be confusing but stay high to the left of lower lakes and look for carins and you’ll be good. Once at upper lake you can try to get to El Lake in the bowl the northeast of lower and upper lakes. It is a SCAMBLE but possible. Look for carins and take your time. A mistake at some spots will either make the trip a downer or end your trip right there. The images for this one though just don’t do it justice. It’s incredibly easy to see why they are called the alps. This place has got to be one of north America’s best kept secrets.

backpacking
snow
11 months ago

Completed 06/15. I reached the last mile getting to L Lake and found it impassable. The river was raging and was up to my chest; I couldn't make it to L Lake and had to settle at Canyon Creek Lakes

backpacking
snow
Sun Apr 14 2019

hiking
Thu Sep 06 2018

Did a day hike to the Canyon Creek Lakes and L Lake. For the distance, the elevation is quite tame for most of the hike up to the Canyon Creek Lakes. For those who want to journey a bit farther up to L Lake, the trail is loosely marked with cairns as it winds up a drainage area. Beautiful views of the valley from L Lake, worth the extra climbing effort. Will definitely be back to camp when more of the summer smoke has cleared. Passed 30-40 people on my round trip hike over Labor Day weekend.

backpacking
Fri Aug 03 2018

One of the coolest hikes I’ve done! Make sure to start early since camping spots started to fill up by the time we got close to the lake around 1:00. Beautiful waterfall about half way; great opportunity for a little rest, and refilling on water. Last 2 miles or so are tough, lots of switch backs and exposed in the sun, but worth it for the views and lake. You do need a permit. They can be picked up the day of (or day before) at the Weaverville Ranger station kiosk, no cost.

backpacking
Mon Jul 23 2018

Pros: Incredibly, unbelievably beautiful and humbling landscapes that get better and better as you head up the valley. Perfect temperature lakes for swimming (exactly the right reward after the final push across hot exposed rock). Many opportunities to explore surrounding peaks as day hikes if you make a base camp at the lakes for a few days. Solid workout hiking in with overnight packs. Gigantic old trees. Lots o stars. Did I mention that it is just incomprehensibly beautiful? Cons: Huge numbers of people hiking to the falls and camping at the lakes on the weekend in summer (which should seem obvious but I neglected to consider), so select your time wisely and do not expect solitude depending on when you go. Some dirty toilet paper here and there, but mostly trash and waste free, so please keep it that way. Most of the hike is high above Canyon Creek on the valley side, so you don't get to be near water a whole lot save for a few points. Overall, if you're trying to decide whether or not to go, definitely do it. Be mindful of the volume of people it attracts and take care to keep this area as clean as possible.

backpacking
Mon Jun 25 2018

Canyon creek never disappoints!

backpacking
Tue May 29 2018

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

Sat Apr 21 2018

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

backpacking
Mon Feb 19 2018

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!

backpacking
Mon Aug 28 2017

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

backpacking
Mon Jul 31 2017

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.

Thu Apr 27 2017

Hiked in last weekend on a beautiful early spring day. A LOT of snow past the big waterfall. Slow going through sections of deep snow drifts, but well worth it for the views and the solitude. I've also hiked this trail in fall when the extra colour makes all the views extra special. Highly recommend.

backpacking
Fri Apr 14 2017

Canyon creek had some great views, fun to swim in the water with all the waterfalls. Plenty of areas for camping out.

backpacking
Tue Jul 05 2016

Although we didn't make it all the way to L Lake, we did hike to Canyon Creek Lakes, and it was absolutely gorgeous! The holiday weekend made it a bit busier than I suspect it normally is, but due to the length of the trail, it didn't feel unbearably crowded. After reading about the impressiveness of the lower falls on summitpost.org, we decided to journey through the brush, and it was absolutely worth the scratches I got on my legs. We ended up setting up camp atop a boulder overlooking the falls (See photo). You can find this old trail at the top of a set of switchbacks, where a "TRAIL" sign will point you to the right; the falls are to the left, you can hear them roaring. The trail is generally well maintained, at least as far as we went. It was quite hot in places where the lush vegetation was replaced with steep granite that seemed to magnify the hot summer sun, and this coupled with the incline will certainly leave you sweating; however, I highly recommend the trail for the surrounding beauty, especially as a good multi-day hike, where you could easily spend as little as 2 or as many as 5 days exploring the area.

camping
Sun Nov 08 2015

Ok so to start..the road is a fairly dangerous one to get to the trail head. The ranger will tell you it's 4 miles..it's not. It's 12+ to get to the trailhead. Keep going and you'll pass 1 lane or less cliff side and other cars. Once you get to the trail it's very clear. It was in the 50-60s all day and 20s at night the colors were great and fires are allowed so bring some shovels and fuel! Waterfalls were flowing too! Have a great time!

hiking
Wed Apr 22 2015

One word. Amazing! This area reminds me so much of Yosemite and the Western Sierras. It is the crown jewel of the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Never in my life have I seen so many waterfalls on a single hike (over 30, no joke), although you do need to travel a short distance off trial for the rewarding views. This is an excellent trip best spent over a few days.

hiking
Mon May 05 2014

What a Nor Cal gem! This is a very rad trail which follows Canyon Creek the whole way to its primary source (Upper and Lower Canyon Creek Lakes). The elevation gain is gradual over the 10 mile or so course. There are plenty of spots to stop and camp along the way. Campfires are permitted up until about 1.5 miles from the Lower Lake. We went in on Friday evening and set up camp before sundown at "The Sinks." It was a beautiful location right next to the creek and a gorgeous doe came into our camp to say hi. I believe it wanted food, which made me think someone's fed it before. Please don't feed them :). We went on 5 more miles to the sign which marks the campfire boundary. Considering we were about 1.5 miles from the lakes, we set up camp again and went on to the Lakes. There are more EPIC waterfalls than can be counted on one hand and I recommend allowing time to explore them. The lakes provide gorgeous views as well that remind of the Eastern Sierras. There's no wonder this is one of the most popular trails. Even still, the permits are free and unlimited still and people do a good job of not leaving to harsh of a mark on the wilderness. A GREAT TRAIL.

hiking
Sun May 13 2012

I have been there tree times sense 1970. Grate: Hiking, Camping, and fishing in the spring. One of my three favorite places. Mybe crowded in the summer.

hiking
Thu Mar 15 2012

I went in the spring of 2011 when there was still alot of snow on the ground. The first day we were the only ones there, and the second evening two different couples showed up. Beautiful views and the snow filled trails were more than worth it when we hiked to the upper lake and was the only ones there! You can only see these lakes by yourself if you are the first one of the year or the last to leave. :)

fishing
Sat Sep 10 2011

Great trail which follows Canyon Creek past beautiful waterfalls, great scenery, lakes with plenty of campsites. We went in early September, which was very hot, but bearable. I'd highly recommend it.

Thu Jun 18 2009

This is a great day hike if you are camping near the lakes below. We did it in mid-June and there was some snow up by L Lake, but not enough to get in our way (only to make swimming a bad idea--but we did it anyway). You get some great views of lakes and the valley below.

hiking
9 months ago

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