Backpack to the Canyon Creek Lakes

16 miles 2600 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Dan Loch

Trinity Alps is home to some of the most wild & spectacular terrain in the Western US. With over 55 alpine lakes, the Wild & Scenic Salmon river, Wild & Scenic Trinity river and countless other rivers, streams and creeks, you are bound to find a beautiful swimming hole, fishing spot, or unreal camp spot. Be sure to check out Grizzly Lake with its 100' waterfall cascading off granite slabs.

Numerous starting points with over 550 miles of trail and easily 50+ different featured trails depending on length and what type of activity you are are looking for. One of the more popular trails, and rightfully so, is Canyon Creek Lakes Trail. This 16 mile roundtrip hike has an overall elevation gain of 2,600 feet but is still quite popular on the summer weekends. It can be done as a long day hike, but I would recommend turning it into a 2-3 night backpacking trip. The trail is well maintained and weaves its way through a deep granite canyon with an occasional switchback providing some elevation gain. Along the way you will pass beautiful waterfalls, turquoise swim pools, lush colorful meadows and dense cedar and fir forests. After 7 miles you will reach Lower Canyon Creek Lake, an absolutely stunning alpine lake surrounded by granite peaks sitting at the base of Sawtooth Peak. This is great place to camp, and if you pick the day right, you will have it all to yourself. About a mile past Lower Canyon Creek Lake you will find Upper Canyon Creek Lake that sits at the base of Thompson Peak and Wedding Cake. Finding this lake can be tricky as it is not visible from Lower Canyon Creek Lake and you must follow cairns to find the lake. For the more adventurous, you may opt to scramble from Upper Canyon Creek Lake through drainages to El Lake and Kalmia Lake. Words cannot explain how beautiful these two small and hidden lakes are.

Camping: There are various areas to camp at along the way to the lakes next to Canyon Creek, as well as either of the Canyon Creek Lakes, but please remember to leave no trace. Campfires are allowed seasonally in designated areas below the lakes (be sure to find out current regulations)

Wilderness Permits are required but are FREE and available without reservation & can be obtained at any one of the ranger stations.

This trail is dog friendly, though please be aware that many portions of the trail consist of sharp and slick granite, and may pose a risk of tearing your dog's pads.

Numerous options are available for scrambling to the summit of many of the surrounding jagged peaks.

Getting There: For the Canyon Creek Lakes Trail drive 8 miles west on California Highway 299 from Weaverville to Junction City. Turn right (north) on paved Canyon Creek Road (County Road 401) just before the bridge over Canyon Creek. There IS NO SIGN, but the road easy to find and is directly across from a general store. Drive 13.5 miles from Junction City on Canyon Creek Road to the trailhead on a narrow and winding road. There is an outhouse and ample parking at trailhead.

Read More

Tags

Rock Climbing
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Amazing

A beutiful hike with fantastic views. This hike was nothing like I have ever seen. Definitely will go again.

Gorgeous Hike!!

Absolutely love this hike!!

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

about 3 years ago

Tucked-away alpine paradise

Yosemite and Lassen get a lot of hype as far as California parks go, but that's probably because you can enjoy most of their scenery through your car's windshield. Those who venture west of Shasta and make the arduous trek into the Trinity Alps wilderness are in for a truly remarkable and well-earned treat. I saw families with small children, older couples, groups of teenagers, and soloists of all experience levels. This adventure offers something for everyone and should be moved to the top of your list if you're considering a West Coast road trip.

🥈 Contributor

about 4 years ago

Big Bang for your buck

This hike is amazing considering that in 8 miles you can feel that you are in an alpine, "alps-like" setting. The fact that it's at a lower elevation makes it easier than some High Sierra hikes which is beneficial for anyone who has greater sensitivity to higher elevations. Be warned though, this trail is crowded so go midweek or on the shoulder seasons for more solitude. I also recommend taking the time to explore the Boulder Creek Lakes which are a short 5-mile round trip scramble from this trail.

Awesome Day Hike

Did this as a day hike, but will definitely be back for an overnight. Also highly recommend a night at the nearby Weaverville Hotel, a historic gem in the quaint town just 40 minutes from the trailhead.

Stay Nearby

Trinity Center, California

Stoney Group Shasta Trinity

Overview Stoney Group Campground is nestled on the banks of Stoney Creek on the Stuart Fork Arm of Trinity Lake. This group camp can accommodate up to 60 people with tents. The sites are given some...

Trinity Center, California

Tannery

Overview Tannery Gulch Campground offers four loops of sites shaded by a mix of conifer and deciduous trees on the shores of Trinity Lake. Three of the four loops offer scenic lake views. Campers a...

Trinity Center, California

Fawn

Overview Located on the Stuart Fork Arm of Trinity Lake, Fawn Group Campground is the most popular group site in the area. Well-shaded by oaks, Douglas firs and pines, this campground provides dire...

Junction City, California

Junction City Campground

Camp on the edge of the Trinity River in one of 22 tent/trailer campsites. Popular for fishing and pleasure boating alike, this clear, cold section of the river is world famous for its fly fishin...

Nearby Adventures

  • Backcountry Camp in the Canyon Creek Drainage

    The first half of the Canyon Creek Drainage is one of the most popular destinations within the Trinity Alps, but the second half goes largely unexplored and uninhabited by sojourners. Four peaks – Thompson Peak, Wedding Cake, Mt. Hilton, and Sawto...

    9 miles 2600 ft gain

  • Scramble Thompson Peak

    This adventure begins at the Canyon Creek Lakes in the Trinity Alps wilderness. Park at the Canyon Creek Trailhead near Junction City and hike the well-maintained and easy-to-follow trail for 8 miles. Once you reach the Canyon Creek Lakes, your of...

    22.7 miles 6100 ft gain

  • Hike to East Weaver Lake

    The trail is used for hiking, trail running and snowshoeing. The last 30 minutes of your drive will be on a windy dirt road. 4WD is recommended. The trailhead on the top of the road features a fire lookout to explore off to the left, and the trail...

    2.9 miles 885 ft gain

  • Hike Stuart Fork to Alpine Lake

    Nestled in the heights of the Trinity Alps, this hike to Alpine Lake is not for the faint of heart.Before embarking on this adventure call the Weaverville Ranger station to check snow levels as well as the flow of the Stuart Fork River. If you ar...

    20 miles 6000 ft gain