Backpack to Grizzly Lake



14 miles

Route Type


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.


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


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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Easy Parking



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Must Do

This is an incredible place. I started at the Hobo Gulch trailhead which made the loop 39.5 miles if you're looking for a longer trip. The track up to the falls was a little intimidating with my full pack on...until an Airedale puppy bounded past me with a backpack on...that made me want to be a little braver haha. Season depending watch out for rattlesnakes-they are present especially near water sources. The lake is insane and large enough to have a private space. Don't think about it just go on this trip!


🥈 Contributor

over 5 years ago

This is a must

Great report. If you have a chance, could you shoot me an email ( ? I am planning to head up there this weekend and would like to pick your brain for a minute. Thanks.

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