Summit the tallest mountain in the Trinity Alps, Thompson Peak (9,002 ft.), on this off-trail scrambling and route-finding adventure.

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 off-trail adventure officially begins.

I’d recommend setting up camp for 1-2 nights as a base camp at the Upper Canyon Creek Lake, where you have the best close-up views of Thompson. Even if the mileage and elevation gain don’t intimidate you, plan on spending quite a bit of time route-finding and bushwhacking around the gullies leading up to the west ridge. While there are a few faint signs of a boot path, these are largely unreliable, and you should be comfortable with cross-country navigation before embarking on this adventure. Come prepared with a topo map, GPS device, and knowledge of backcountry travel.

Beginning from the Upper Canyon Creek Lake, you’ll follow the Canyon Creek Drainage through a lush meadow and onto a rocky boulderfield beneath the peak. Avoid the urge to gain elevation early on and stay low in this meadow, following the creek as it creeps north towards the south face of Thompson. You’ll have a few options of gully scrambles to reach the upper portion of the drainage and eventually the west ridge, to your left. When choosing your route, keep in mind that you should be performing moves no higher than class 2-3... if you find yourself in more challenging terrain, you’ve gone off the recommended route!

Though it looks intimidating from below, once you reach the top of the ridge it’s an easy walk to the base of the Thompson Peak summit block. Call it a day here, or if you’re a purist and absolutely need to tag the top, be prepared to perform a couple of class 4+/low class 5 moves to reach the summit plaques.

Soak in the views from the highpoint of the Trinity Alps, and allow yourself plenty of time and leisure navigating your way back down through the challenging terrain. 

Pack List

  • Wilderness permit (obtained from Ranger Station)
  • Topo map, compass, GPS device
  • Bear canister
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Sun protection, weather and wind protection
  • Water filter
  • Backpacking gear - stove, fuel, shelter, sleeping pad & bag
  • Trekking poles if desired
  • Plenty of food and water
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RT Distance 22.7 Miles
Elevation Gain 6100 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

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