Backpack to Grizzly Lake

Details

Distance

14 miles

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Added by TJ Orton

Backpacking to Grizzly Lake will take you to an absolutely jaw-dropping waterfall. Keep in mind that the scramble to the lake is challenging and the first two miles of the hike are pretty steep. The best season to hike this is June through October.

Grizzly Lake is in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The lake is know for its brilliant waterfall flowing from the lake's surface straight off the side of a cliff and roughly 600 feet down to the meadow below. Grizzly lake is located in some of America's most amazing and remote alpine wilderness, including Thompson Peak, the highest peak in the Trinity Alps, which hoovers above Grizzly lake.

Getting There

From Oregon heading south: China Gulch trailhead is accessed from Hwy 3, which connects Yrecka and the I-5 to Weaverville and Hwy 299. From Yreka, head south for an hour and pass through Fort Jones and Etna. Past the town of Calahan, turn right on the road that goes to Cecilville. About 30 minutes later, just as you're entering Cecilville, turn left on a paved road to China Gulch. About three miles later the paved road turns to gravel and is marked as road 37N07. Follow this road another six miles to the China Gulch Trailhead. There is plenty of parking.

The Trail

The newer, and now more common, route to Grizzly Lake involves a nearly seven-mile stretch on a steep trail through thick pines and beautiful alpine meadows. The trail often runs alongside the gin-clear Grizzly Creek, a haven for small brook trout.

About 5.7 miles into the hike, there is a nice meadow you can camp at before making the rocky climb, often called the Grizzly Scramble, to the lake. This saves the trouble of hauling a lot of gear up the epic scramble you're about to tackle. Enjoy a day of fly fishing at the incredible lake, then return to the meadow before dark. If you're feeling brave, it's amazing to camp at the lake on the side of the ledge over looking the entire valley down below. The view of the stars is amazing from up there.

Fishing

The crystal-clear lake is loaded with colorful brook trout. Cast small woolly bugger flies for them. They can't resist!

Notes:

Make sure to bring warm clothes since it gets chilly at night. Tie up your food in a tree while you sleep, since there are a lot of bears around. Be careful making the scramble to the top of the lake. You'll want to veer left as you get higher up and the trail disappears—it's less steep this way.

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Know for

Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Easy Parking
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Reviews

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Trail needs much work

Before you take this trip know that the trail is pretty bad. It looks like it hasn't been maintained since the day it was established. There are fallen trees every 10 yards it feels like. Right pass Hunter's Camp the trail is horrible. It's clear that many couldn't tell where the trail was so now there are several "trails". Many do not meet up with the actual trail. We made a grave mistake and became lost within a short time after Hunter's Camp. We turned around but it was too late. We took one of the non trails. We couldn't find the trail or any signs of it. We started to descend thinking we could easily find the switch backs below. We were wrong and paid for it being utterly lost in the Alps for 24 hours. After staying the night near a creek and bushwhacking for miles we spotted a huge pile of trees that looked like an old loggers pile. We bushwhacked to it and miraculously there was an over grown loggers road that led us back to a main road. It's easy to get lost in the Alps. For more then 12 hours we couldn't find a peak to find our bearings. It's a very thick forest, with bushes way taller then us. Please be aware of how fast things can go wrong, bring a gps and have several bearing points on your compass. Sorry for the one star. It's not meant for the original article or author but for the "keep on the trail" where there is little trail to follow in most spots. Stay alive mates. And be careful out there.

Great place to be dropped by packers?

Because of my health I can no longer backpack. I always wanted to go to Grizzly Lake but I can't camp below and make that hike up to the lake day after day. Can any of you suggest a gorgeous, scenic lake that packers in the Coffee Creek area could drop us at. So we can camp close to the lake, view of mountains, some trees, good camp site, not too busy. I'd sure appreciate it!

Must Do!!!!!!!

My most favorite hike in the Trinity Alps. They hike is pretty steep the first couple of miles. A lot of switch backs but well worth it. The views from the lake and waterfall are unbelievable definitely a bucket list backpacking trip.

685 total saves

4.4/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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