CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Long Canyon Trailhead . . . early spring jaunting


COVID-19 message from Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “Please continue to recreate locally and practice self-sufficiency & responsible recreation when visiting the forest. Pack it in, pack it out. Pick up all of your trash and dispose of waste properly. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes potential sources for the spread of COVID-19. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please avoid visiting national forests if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If an area is crowded, move to a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.”


At 3,800 feet, this trailhead is between Stuart Fork and Swift Creek Trailheads, both logistically and elevation wise.  But as you’ll see beginning elevation does not always equate to similar snow conditions.

On this day, my objective was Bee Tree Gap, the pass at the top of this photo. Looks can be so deceiving. The summer trail is on the left through the snow.

You get glimpses of the pass well in advance of arrival.  It’s a continuous 5-mile climb from the trailhead to just below the pass.

You’d think it would be no problem to find a way to the pass given these conditions.

Well . . .  on this early season jaunt, looks were indeed deceiving. The purple track represents my efforts. The green line is from a February snowshoe adventure (the tent symbol was from that trip and the objective on this day). The red is the summer trail. After a couple hours of effort, it was time to cry uncle. Microspikes might have helped.

Early spring trips for me mean taking time to enjoy the journey. Views like these make every step worthwhile.

It’s a time to be grateful for sleeping mosquitoes.

It’s a time to enjoy watching the sun slide behind the mountain.

How cool to see the shadows of the western peaks overlaid on the eastern ridges.

Sunset magic is a part of the journey.

And if you’re really lucky you might be perfectly positioned to catch the full moon rising.

Early to bed, early to rise.

With a foiled attempt at going higher, it’s nice to have other options.

The trail to Bowerman Meadows has much lower use than the Deer Creek Trail. In early spring, the first consideration is whether you’re up for a wet feet crossing of the creek.

Then you have some fun navigating through thin to non-existent trail tread. Tip: stay to the right side of the first meadow and look for the trail darting into the woods.

There were a few ties marking the route.

While down trees and deadfall is typically indicative of early season, my guess is that this is no longer a maintained trail.

You might find some patches of snow.

I believe this is an old snow survey station.

I have photos of me sitting on this boulder from my first trek on this trail many years ago.

Continue staying high and to the right.

You’ll be tempted to drop down low, just say NO!

Watch carefully for this escape hatch to cross the creek.

Notice the cut branches.

The white rope trail markers switched to a few red ribbons.

These miles are hard earned. But the reward is worth the effort.

Remember that snow patch I showed earlier? It was obvious that bear prefer the trail to bushwhacking. There was plenty of bear scat along the trail, some nice footprints and finally a beautiful shiny black-colored bear in the green meadow. While drinking coffee the next morning I watched, mostly likely the same bear across the ravine from my campsite. The bear’s location is circled in yellow in the top right photo. The zoomed image is on bottom right. I thought the left bottom photo was funny with a beer can between two piles of bear poo. Hmmm did the bears take it away from a human?

Keep your eyes peeled for little tree frogs.

What else does spring mean? That’s right wildflower blooms.

Early spring means it’s a little winter mixed with a little summer. It’s best to key your eye on the weather and make plans to exit the high country when you see a forecast like this one, unless of course you like risking hypothermia.

Adventure Dates:

  • April-June, any year, depending on winter snow levels

Resources:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Long Canyon Trailhead . . . summer jaunting

In my trails book, this loop is called Disneyland for wilderness lovers due to the amazing views per mile. However, to enjoy this Disneyland you best have eaten your Wheaties and love switchbacks (aka STEEP terrain)! We entered from the Long Canyon Trailhead.

Siligo Meadows from Bee Tree Gap at 7,200′

The trail from Deer Lake to Summit Lake, Siligo Peak is the gray granite (an easy off-trail scramble)

Looking down on Deer Lake from Deer Creek Pass, the beginning of the 4-Lakes Loop.

Looking east toward Deer Lake, Granite Peak and Seven-Up Peak.

From Siligo Peak, looking back at the trail coming up from Deer Lake and looking over at Summit Lake. Siligo Meadows are between the two ridges behind Summit Lake.

Summit Lake and the trail down to Diamond Lake, the next destination on the 4-Lakes Loop.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake and mountains from the Stuart Fork drainage

Lake Luella the 4th Lake of the Loop

From Bee Tree Gap, time to descend back to the Long Canyon Trailhead

Jan’s Tips:

(1) If you are visiting during peak season, consider camping at Siligo Meadows rather than the lakes where there is little privacy and sanitation can be a problem. There are springs available in the meadows as well as established campsites.

(2) The loop requires about the same amount of ascending and descending whether done clockwise or counterclockwise. We did it counterclockwise, starting at Deer Creek Pass, descending to Deer Lake, ascending to Summit Lake Pass, taking the side trail down to Summit Lake and back up to main trail, descending to Diamond Lake, descending to Lake Luella, then climbing first back up to Deer Lake, then finally back up to Deer Creek Pass. Plan on a bit more climbing if you want to bag Siligo Peak.

(2) Visit my trail links page for resources on the Trinity Alps Wilderness.