Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Forks of Salmon with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
10 days ago

I did this hike yesterday. Was on the trail for just over 6 hours, not a soul in sight on the trail nor on the forest road leading to the trail head. Must have covered close to 15 miles. There were some lovely wild flowers on the trail (orange, red, yellow, and purple in color; I don’t know names) and spotted some fresh bear poop on the trail as well, but thankfully had no bear encounters. Made it to Waterdog Lake but could not find Russian Lake; signage is not the greatest on this trail. I did get an aerial view of a lake but don’t believe to be Russian Lake. I’ll post a pic of that in the photos.

backpacking
14 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!

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

awesome hike. There are areas of the trail that are overgrown and rain gear is nice to have if there's dew on the brush.

our GPS said this hike was closer to 16 miles RT. just fyi so you are prepared for a longer journey.

this is one of the best hikes I've been on and I hike or snowshoe most every weekend year round.

the first incline and decline are anti-climatic but once you hit the valley and start up towards the lake the views are incredible. we scrambled up to the ridge above the lake and afforded a good view.

roads to trailhead were in fairly good condition. we made it with a Honda civic but I had to jump out a few times and move some rocks out the way that were not going to clear.

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!

backpacking
5 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
8 months ago

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

Little travelled, except maybe in hunting season (late Summer/ Fall: check). Good basecamp: lots of nearby features. Trout in the lake(s). In summer it is hot down at Sawyers Bar, but it is pleasant when you get to altitude. Easiest to take two days in (uphill) if your are heavily loaded or with kids. One day out isn't too hard.

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!

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.

Directions are difficult here's a good link
http://nocatrailheads.glhenterprise.com/china_gulch_th_ta.html
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!

Spectacular ridge views and rivers. Super rewarding loop- I'm definitely coming back!

I hiked this loop but took Swift Creek from Sunrise to access Granite Lake, from Granite I hiked to Deer Creek. This added a considerable amount of miles but its a doable three day loop.

Trail conditions on Sunrise are dismal- no track, and few/small cairns. Same story for the top of Triforest coming from Deer Creek. Good idea to bring several maps. A trail crew was working up Sunrise from the bottom of the valley, so conditions might get better soon.

I would rate these ridges as difficult, especially during the day time when the temperature gets up in the 90's. Also, lots of bear scat.

backpacking
10 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.

backpacking
10 months ago

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

My husband and I completed this as a 2 day, 1 night backpacking trip with our 1 1/2 year old, 2 friends and their 10 month old. We were some of the first people out this season ( Mid June) and the trail was quite overgrown and difficult to find at times, but much of it was beautiful! The hike to Grizzly falls took us about 6 hours and seemed like it was much longer than 6 miles. We took several breaks because of the heat and the babies. We set up camp upon arrival, there were quite a few mosquitoes along the hike and at camp. We checked out the scramble up to the lake but there was still heavy snow pack towards the top and wouldn't have been safe- could have been done but the majority of the group was shot from the hike and heat. The meadow was gorgeous and the falls were as well. We went to sleep early and woke up early to head out at 6am. The hike back only took 3.5 hours, but the climb to Hunter's camp was killer!
Saw two bears, they were not interested in us at all. The kids had a blast exploring and we all had a blast too.

On our way out the trail crew showed to to do some clearing- we will try this again later in the season!

We are late 20's early 30's group of friends, active hikers each carrying 40-50lbs. ( babies included)

Wow what a trip it was one of the hardest hikes I have been on in a long while I would say if I had it to do again I would take less 50 lbs for sure be prepared for a long day of up hill hiking the lake was amazing one of the best I have ever seen. Put it on the bucket list.

backpacking
11 months ago

Ran in to quite a bit of snow while on the trail, but definitely possible to walk around or over in order to get to the lakes. Have to wade through a creek in the very beginning of the trail, but after that it's a great workout with views better than most.

backpacking
Thursday, April 20, 2017

This is the iconic hike/backpack of the Trinity Alps in Northern Cali. It's on any backpacker's "to do" list. It's a chore to drive to the trailhead about 3 hours from Redding, much of it along scenic rural farmland and in wilderness. The segment of the track takes you gradually up a hill to Hunters Camp. Then you descend a mile through bramble, brush and on switchbacks to the bottom drainage. The descent translates to an ascent on the return, and that's on your mind. From there it's about a 4.5 mile slog to the meadow at the end of which, high up, you see Grizzly Lake. Best to camp in the meadow scramble the next day to the amazing lake and if you have energy, then 1500 feet to Thompson Peak. Take your time climbing back down. I recommend the scramble to the left of the lake lip as opposed to boulder hopping to a trail that leads up but it more precarious. The return was quick until the climb back to Hunters Camp. What a challenge! This is an Alps backpack that will stick with me for sure.

backpacking
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What a treat! This is a hard hike and took me about 7 hours to get to the meadow. If you plan to go to the lake from the trailhead give yourself plenty of time. The hardest part besides the scramble at the end is the long uphill at the beginning followed immediately by a taxing downhill. Nothing crazy just long. After the hard down you take a long gradual climb to the meadow. What a sight once you finally come into the meadow. Truly an amazing place. Plan to go in mid spring to see the falls raging. I'm not sure if you can cross the falls when they are running hard though. If not your camp sites are limited!

Be aware! When heading up the scramble stay left, there is a point where the trail splits and the left side looks harder than the right. Don't be fooled it's not bad, the right is almost a downright rock climb and there were times I was unsure of our situation. Totally worth every step you take!

One more note, the trailhead is on 37N07, also known as rays gulch I believe, and not 37N02 as labeled on this site. Heading towards 37N02 though you will see signs, follow them they are right.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We actually did the China Gulch TH to Grizzly Lake for a 3 day, 2 night trip. What a workout and amazing experience! The lake was so beautiful. I plan to go back again next year in mid July to see the wildflowers and hopefully experience the falls. I'd love to extend the trip by a day or two and try to summit Thompson Peak.

backpacking
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This was my first hike since quitting a 38 year pack a day cigarette habit 8 weeks ago. I am also about 50 lbs overweight at 240. I would say it was taxing to say the least on the uphill portions and down right brutal coming back up the hill to hunters camp. My brother and I left China Gulch trailhead at 8am and reached the end of the Meadows and set up camp. No time to make the lake but a 3 day hike planned to make the lake and Thompson peak soon. I think sheer stubbornness got my butt up that hill.

hiking
Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Demanding and rewarding, couldn't ask for a more spectacular view. Our GPS had us logged at a little over 14 miles. Due to minimal manning in the forestry department there are lots of downed trees and some shrubs trying to overtake the trail on the backside of the first mountain climb. The rock "scramble" at the end up to the lake isn't for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, this hike is not for you.

hiking
Monday, August 17, 2015

The beginning of the trail lures you in and then starts a brutal uphill. The steep uphill to the lake is shorter but steeper and more difficult. We went up just left of the creek which was more direct but borderline rock climbing in several spots and pretty tiring with a full pack.
Start going up earlier in the boulder field and you can take some semi marked routes up that are a bit easier.
Either way it's definitely not easy but the lake and cliff at the falls are incredible.

fishing
Thursday, July 09, 2015

My fiancé and I did an over nighter on this trip. And boy, it was impressive. We took the new trial in and it was a relatively slight elevation gain. However, we did get scorched by the sun. The new trail climbs gradually along many exposed areas. Actually there is hardly in cover for the majority of the new trail section. On the positive note, you don't miss a minute of the spectacular views!! Once we made it to the lakes we hiked back to large Caribou to find a place to spend the night. We hiked nearly three more miles from the trail marker...but it was worth it. We traveled over floating logs on a river and scrambled up a few rock faces but at the end was a camp site full of solitude. We had a perfect spot next to the water. We swam and fished and even rode out a hail/rain storm. We hiked back the next day. We hiked in, in about 5.5 hours and hiked out in about 4. We clocked 11.5 miles in each direction.

We would totally recommend this trial. Spectacular views on an advanced trial. Next time the only thing we would change is spend one extra night camped out. This would allow for more exploring and possibly a scramble up Saw Tooth. Enjoy!

hiking
Friday, May 22, 2015

3 lakes, countless ponds, so much granite!, streams, ridges on both sides with a postcard view, swimming, fishing... I can't wait to go back!

hiking
Sunday, September 28, 2014

This trail is very difficult and beautiful. From the trailhead the trail is very easy for the first few hundred yards. However, after that it starts to get tough to the top of the hill at Hunters Camp which is 2 miles from the trailhead. From Hunters Camp the trail goes down hill to the junction of the trail to Hobo Gulch Trailhead. From the junction follow the trail to Grizzly Meadows and to the lake. The trail is fairly gradual to Grizzly Meadows. There is plenty of water along this portion of the trail. There was a large fire in the area a few years ago and the trail will show the signs of the fire. The forest is growing back. Once arriving to Grizzly Meadows there are plenty of camp spots to choose from. From the meadows it's another mile to the lake. This is the most difficult part of the trail. The trail now becomes a scramble. Rock ducks will show the way through a granite slide up and through a granite cliff. This accessible but very steep with some loose rock and gravel. This part of the trail I do not recommend having dogs. Once you get to the lake there is a couple of camp spots, however, I don't recommend having a bulky or heavy pack since you can loose your balance. It can be done. The lake is spectacular. The water is very clear. As you walk on the trail you will get closer to Grizzly Falls. This fall probably drops about 100 feet down to the granite slide below. Very spectacular. This app indicates it is a 13 mile round trip. My GPS said 16 miles round trip. So be prepared to leave the trailhead early. It will take 3 to 4 hours depending on your walking ability and how in shape you are in. All in all this is a great hike and trail.

camping
Wednesday, July 02, 2014

This trail makes for an awesome backpacking trip! There are 2 versions of the trail that lead to Caribou Lake, the old trail and the new trail. The old one is much more direct and strenuous, whereas the new one has a more gradual elevation climb but is about 2 miles longer. New trail: 9 miles, old trail: 7 miles.

We did the new trail until Caribou Meadows where the two trails meet and then we took the old trail to Caribou. The old trail here climbs to ~8000 feet elevation so you're basically on top of a mountain. The views here make that strenuous bit worth it! Once at the top of this, you descent into the basin where Snowslide Lake, Lower Caribou Lake, and Caribou Lake are located. The trail goes past Snowslide and then goes up some elevation to Caribou Lake. We stayed there and it was gorgeous! Once rested, you can climb up to Sawtooth Ridge just above Caribou Lake for some more spectacular views.

We took the new trail completely back to the trailhead. The new trail was in direct sunlight and there is no shade! There was a fire there recently that burned down all the trees. :( It was so hot!

Anyways, I would definitely do this again! The views are breathtaking.

camping
Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hidden Gem
Perfect backcountry hiking and camping trail. Get to the trailhead early and climb all the way to the top of stop mid way and overnight in an alpine meadow. Truly awesome place to visit.
This is a must do trail in California.

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