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Hiking in the North Lake Area

Resources and Important Information

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Typical season for Trinity Alps climbing is June through October.

To avoid dehydration while hiking, carry plenty of water. Summer temperatures often exceed 90 degrees. In the lower canyons and exposed trails, temperatures can climb well over 100 degrees. Evenings, however, require warm clothing. Day-to-night temperature differentials can fluctuate as much as 45 degrees. Other occasional problems include poison oak (generally found below 4,000 feet), occasional snakes (rattlesnakes have been seen above 9,000 feet) and hyperventilation. First-aid kits are highly recommended.

We add to this list of trail descriptions regularly, so check back often, especially in hiking season!

Easiest Day Hikes

Lake Eleanor

Lake Eleanor is easily reached within 1/10 mile of the trailhead. It can be accessed by those not really able to hike in the forest. It is a small, serene setting for lunch off the beaten path. You can drive up a logging road to within 1/10 mile of the lake, and then an easy, essentially level trail takes you to this small lake in the Trinity Alps.

Take Swift Creek Road west from Highway 3 just across the highway bridge from the town of Trinity Center. Turn right at the intersection 1.4 miles from Highway 3, and follow the logging road to the trailhead, a total of 7.7 miles from Highway 3.

Swift Creek and Foster's Cabin

One way length: 1.2 miles to the bridge
Low and high elevation: 3,990 to 4,351 feet
Difficulty: Easy

The Swift Creek Trail leads to many places. But for a quick 40-minute hike to a beautiful picnic spot among the boulders along the creek, just go as far as the bridge across the creek. There are many stops along the way where you can get your feet in the water, and the trail is in the trees. A perfect combination for a hot day.

For a longer walk, go the4.8 miles to Foster's Cabin. You are along or near the creek the whole way, and you'll see verdant meadows and wonderful vistas.
Download the Swift Creek Trail Guide.

Easy to Moderate Day Hikes

Boulder Lakes and Tapie Peak

One way length: 1.75 miles
Low and high elevation: 5,775 to 6,463 feet
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

An excellent hike for beginners. The distance is short and the elevation gain is very doable for anyone in reasonable hiking shape. Nevertheless, the destinations are very worthwile for any hiker. Visit some of the most accessible lakes in the Trinity Alps.

For an adventure, continue beyond Big Boulder Lake on up to Lost, Found and Tapie Lakes, or even on up to the summit of Tapie Dome. These upper lakes are much less likely to be crowded on holiday weekends.
Download the Boulder Lakes Trail Guide.

Deadfall Lakes and Mount Eddy

One way length: 2.9 miles
Low and high elevation: 6,866 to 7,309 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Middle Deadfall Lake via the Pacific Coast Trail

The Deadfall Lakes area offers multiple hikes and destinations from easy-to-reach, large Middle Deadfall Lake to the ascent of Mount Eddy, the highest point in the continental U.S. west of Interstate I-5. An easy hike along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail leads to the largest lake in the Deadfall Lakes basin. More time and energy? Then add the hikes to the upper Deadfall Lakes. Really feeling energetic? Climb the trail to the top of Mount Eddy for a spectacular view.
Download the Deadfall Lakes and Mt. Eddy Trail Guide.

East, Upper and Middle Boulder Lakes

One way length: 1.7 miles to East Boulder, 6.9 miles with Middle Boulder Loop
Low and high elevation: 5,744 to 6,822 feet (7,438 with saddle side trip and loop)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

East Boulder Creek basin is a great example of the "Red Trinities". This trailhead takes you into the Scott Mountains from the Callahan-side trailheads. A hike up this creek trail provides spectacular views, delightful waterfalls, large meadows, and great fishing. This could easily become your favorite hike in the Trinity Alps! For some exercise, add the Middle Boulder Lake loop for more spectacular views of hte Alps.
Download the East Boulder Lakes Trail Guide.

Grand National Mine

One way length: 2.9 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,594 to 5,936 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

The Grand National Mine is a fairly easy hike to the remnants of a productive mine from the 1930s. The processing building is still on the site, though slowly sliding off of the hill. The old stamp mill is in the rubble, and there is much to explore on the hillside above the building. This is a picturesque site, with views of the Red Trinities from the mine location.
Download the Grand National Mine Trail Guide.

Granite Lake (Swift Creek Trail)

One way length: 5.2 miles
Low and high elevation: 3,985 to 5,982 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Granite Lake is a popular destination for day hikes as well as backpacking. The hike begins at the Swift Creek Trailhead, and takes you across Swift Creek and southwest along the north side of Granite Creek. You pass several waterfalls and rapids, and hike through beautiful alpen meadows, rich in wildflower color in early to mid-summer. If you only have a short amount of time, then just make the first 1.2 miles your hike, ending at the Swift Creek Bridge. This is an easy, 40-minute hike to wonderful picnic spot right on Swift Creek.
Download the Granite Lake Trail Guide.

Hodges Cabin

One way length: 3.5 miles
Low and high elevation: 3,565 to 4,604 feet
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

Hodges Cabin was a summer retreat for the Hodges family from Los Angeles, and its history dates back to the 1920s. The hike to the cabin follows the North Fork of Coffee Creek, and is a delightful hike through the forest. Exploring the artifacts at Hodges, and the surrounding area, makes for a wonderful day in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.
Download the Hodges Cabin Trail Guide.

Stoddard and McDonald Lakes

One way length: 3.3 miles
Low and high elevation: 5,158 to 5,902 feet
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

Stoddard Lake is set in a treed basin on the north shoulder of Billys Peak. The rocks on the southeast shore make a delightful lunch spot. McDonald Lake is just south of Stoddard Lake, about 0.2 miles from the Stoddard shore. The trail around the west side of Stoddard will take you McDonald.
Download the Stoddard Lake Trail Guide.

Tangle Blue and Big Marshy Lakes

One way length: 3.3 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,623 to 5,770 feet
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

Tangle Blue is a spectacular lake in a picturesque setting. With granite cliffs as backdrops, you will delight in this hike along Tangle Blue Creek, enjoy a few creek crossings, cross verdant meadows, and arrive at one of the prettiest lakes in the Trinity Alps.

If you are up for a more rigorous adventure, after visiting Tangle Blue, head on up to Big Marshy Lake. As opposed to the granite bowl in which Tangle Blue resides, Big Marshy is in a red rock, peridotite bowl. Despite its name, Big Marshy is not in a marsh setting, and is very accessible.
Download the Tangle Blue Lake Trail Guide.

Moderate to Strenuous Day Hikes

Bear Lakes

One way length: 4.1 miles
Low and high elevation: 3,061 to 5,860 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-to strenuous

Big Bear Lake is gorgeous, in a granite cirque with spectacular views along the trail. The adjacent Wee Bear pond and Little Bear Lake are in their own cirque, and equally beautiful. The hike is moderate-to-strenuous depending on your hiking shape with an 11% overall grade. But these beautiful lakes are well worth the hike, especially midweek or off-season when you can have them to yourself!
Download the Big Bear Lake Trail Guide.

Billys Peak Lookout

One way length: 3 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,380 to 7,267 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-to strenuous

There is a peak above Coffee Creek commonly known as Billys Peak. However, the pyramid-shaped peak is actually Billys Peak Lookout. The actual Billys Peak is slightly higher, about 1.4 miles northwest of the Lookout, and cannot be seen from the town of Coffee Creek. But the Lookout has a spectacular view and has the remnants of the foundation of the fire lookout that once resided there. What a commanding view the lookouts had of the North Lake area! This hike is a steady climb, ending with a rock scramble, but the views are well worth it!
Download the Billys Peak Lookout Trail Guide.

Kidd Creek Basin and Ward Lake

One way length: 4.6 to 7 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,962 to 7,591 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-to strenuous

A less travelled path to Ward and Horsehoe Lakes is in itself a destination. Kidd Creek Basin is a beautiful hike in the South Fork of the Salmon River drainage out of Big Flat. You can hike up to the meadows in the basin and have a perfect day. Or you can continue on up over the saddle into the Swift Creek watershed to reach Ward Lake, and even continue on to Horseshoe Lake. These two lakes form the headwaters of Swift Creek, and are stocked with fish. Do this hike as a day hike, or spend a night at Ward Lake. Well worth the effort. Note that the first 2.8 miles from the gate at Big Flat Campground are essentially flat, so the trip isn't really as difficult as the one-way length might suggest.
Download the Kidd Creek Basin and Ward Lake Trail Guide.

Paynes Lake (Russian Wilderness)

One way length: 2.4 to 3 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,416 to 6,522 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-to strenuous

A somewhat popular lake due to its proximity to the Pacific Crest Trail, Paynes Lake is very beautiful and makes a great day hike or overnight camping spot. With a side trip up to Albert and Upper Albert Lakes, this corner of the small, Russian Wilderness is a nice alterntive to hiking in the Trinity Alps. The Paynes Lake trailhead described in this trail guide provides a short, but steeper route than the hike in on the PCT. The trailhead is reached by driving north over Scott Mountain to a location a few miles south of Etna, and driving up toward the wilderness.
Download thePaynes Lake Trail Guide.

Aggressive Day Hikes

Granite Peak

One way length: 4 miles
Low and high elevation: 4,100 to 8,091 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous

This hike is short—just four miles—with a climb of nearly 4,000 feet on countless switchbacks, but the views are spectacular! There is a false summit 1,500 feet below the true peak, but the vistas of the surrounding mountains will keep your mind off the climb. The trail splits just before the final push for the top, with the left-hand fork leading to Red Mountain and Stonewall Pass and a traverse of high alpine country studded with lakes.

The trailhead is located 3.0 miles west of Highway 3 on a logging road that begins opposite the entrance for Bushy Tail Campground on Trinity Lake.

Ycatapom Peak

Ycatapom Peak is located near the eastern edge of the Trinity Alps Wilderness of northern California. Closest town is Trinity Center. The mountain's name comes from the Wintu word meaning to "leaning mountain".

Ycatapom Peak's northern face rises from the bottom of Poison Canyon. This 1200-foot wall is home to the longest technical rock climbs in the Trinity Alps. The rock is granite and solid. Most routes on the north face range in difficulty from easy to moderate. The area has been developed as a pure traditional climbing area and thus you will encounter no bolts. Non-technical scrambling routes (descent options) exist on the mountain's west ridge and south face.

Given the fact that the technical routes on Ycatapom peak are located on its northern face, they tend to stay wet later into the season. The Forest Service locks the access gates to the area (on unpaved roads) from October 30 to May 1 regardless of weather conditions.

From CA 3 in Trinity Center, turn west onto Swift Creek Road. Follow it for approximately 1.4 miles to a signed junction and turn right toward Lake Eleanor and Poison Canyon Trailheads. In about 1 mile, turn right again onto FS road 37N55. Follow 37N55 passing a fork - keep right here. Keep right again at the next fork finally reaching a 3-way junction where you need to make a sharp left to stay on 37N55 (there should be a gate - possibly closed - on the minor road that goes straight). You'll reach the inconspicuous trailhead (no large parking lot - just a widened pull out) - but it is marked with a sign - shortly after crossing North Fork Swift Creek. Park your car on the right side of the road (more parking space available a few hundred yards down the road) and look for the marked trailhead sign on the left side.

Follow the steep Poison Canyon Trail for about 2 miles to a signed junction with the Thumb Rock Trail. Nice views of the peak can be had within about 0.75 mile from the road. Stay left at the junction on Lilypad Lake Trail. Hike for approximately 0.3 miles further, passing through a small meadow. Look for a climbers' camp on the far side of the meadow (fire pits visible from trail on right side).

Overnight Hikes

Granite Lake and Seven Up Peak

One way length: 5 miles
Low and high elevation: 3,200 to 8,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Granite Lake, as the name suggests, rests in a dramatic granite-lined bowl on the eastern edge of the wilderness. This trip takes you to the 18-acre lake at an elevation of 6,000 feet. For those with a bit more energy, a climb of Seven Up Peak offers spectacular views of the highest summits in the Trinity Alps. It's also possible to extend the trip into a multi-day loop by linking with several trail options that radiate from below Seven Up Gap. The trailhead is accessed from Highway 3 by Trinity Center. Take the Swift Creek Road 7.0 miles to the trail's start.

The first part of the trail follows the aptly named Swift Creek as it dashes its way down a canyon lined with azalea, Douglas fir, sugar pine, incense cedar, and Jeffrey pine. At 1.3 miles you will reach a trail junction: The trail along Swift Creek continues to Ward and Horseshoe Lakes—worth a trip in themselves—but the path to Granite Lake crosses Swift Creek and climbs up fern-lined Granite Creek, passing several waterfalls and a few flowery meadows, eventually arriving at Granite Lake. From the lake it's possible to climb by trail to Seven Up Gap, where there are scattered stands of mountain hemlock and the rare foxtail pine. From the gap, it's just a short scramble to the top of 8,134-foot Seven Up Peak.

If you're interested in making the trip more than an in-and-out from Granite Lake, consider hiking to the Bear Basin Trail or the Mumford Basin Trail, which course north from Seven Up Gap. Both trails eventually lead back to Swift Creek and the trailhead.

Snowshoeing

The challenge to showshoeing in the Alps is getting to the trailheads. Most of the trailheads are located at the end of USFS or logging roads that are not winter maintained. Early in the season, when the roads are still passable while there is snow higher up is a good time. If you have the means to locate and follow the logging roads in the winter, you may be able to find the trailheads via snow cat or quad.

Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when to expect your return. Also, always be aware of avalanche danger. The mountains are beautiful in the winter, but winter hazards abound. Of course, you will take some emergency supplies with you, and you will thoroughly review the weather forecast before you venture into the wilderness in the winter.

Here are two easy hikes that are usually doable after roads are plowed. Hidden Lake trailhead is north of Scott Mountain, so be sure that pass is open if you head north.

Cherry Flat

One way length: 0.6 miles
Low and high elevation: 2,700 to 2,780 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Cherry Flat is an easy snowshoe hike, and is quite nice on a sunny day. The flat is treed, and you can have your hot chocolate next to cascading rapids in the river. A great hike for snoeshow beginners.

Take the Trinity Alps Resort Road at the north end of the Stuart Fork Bridge on Highway 3. Follow the road, through the resort, all the way to the end, just past Bridge Camp. The trail starts just beyond the gate.

Hidden Lake

One way length: 0.9 miles
Low and high elevation: 6,135 to 6,660 feet
Difficulty: Easy-to-moderate

Hidden Lake is a gem in the winter. The lake will likely be frozen over and covered with snow. Do not test the ice by walking on it! The hike starts off in the trees, but then follows a ridgeline offering spectacular views. Upon arriving at the lake, you will be delighted with the lunch spot you have selected. Pick a sunny day for this hike and you won't be disappointed!

Take Highway 3 north, over Scott Mountain, and stay on the highway to Callahan. Turn left on the Callahan-Cecilville road and take this road about 11.75 miles to the Carter Meadows Summit. Park in the parking area next to the trailhead on the south end of the parking lot.

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