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

The majority of hikers use the Long Canyon Trail to reach the Four-Lakes Loop, as I did last September.

Long Canyon trail lined with Dr. Seuss flowers, aka Western pasqueflower (Pulsatilla or Anemone occidentalis).

If you are one of the few who enjoy route finding, hiking off-trail, bushwhacking, and scrambling, you’ll love the lakes hidden behind this ridge.

From Bowerman Meadow, looking up at the ridge sheltering the lakes.

Lake Anna

Billy Be Damned Lake

Sunrise at Lake Anna

Sunbeam reflection upon Lake Anna

Infinity image at Lake Anna


Jan’s Tips:

  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For travel in the Trinity Alps, I highly recommend having a GPS device. Except for the very popular, over-used trails, most other trails listed on the maps and in guidebooks are overgrown, filled with deadfall or scree, or are nearly non-existent. Some trails have been rerouted, with no updated reference on GPS. For example, on the Bowerman Trail, GPS showed we were on trail, but there was absolutely no evidence for at least a mile.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, North Fork Coffee Creek . . . summer jaunting

I go to the wilderness for solitude, so planning a trip for a holiday weekend requires a bit more thought and compromise. Thankfully the Trinity Alps Wilderness has a multitude of trails and access points.

In 2010, I’d taken a day hike from the North Fork Coffee Creek Trailhead to Hodges cabin and had fond memories of the meadows and creeks. With high temperatures predicted and it being prime wildflower season, my goal was to find a plentiful supply of both. Otherwise armed with maps and trail guides, the plan was to make decisions at each junction, my favorite way of hiking.

Cabin Tour:

Hodges Cabin – Sadly this cabin with an interesting history has experienced degradation due to neglect.

This miner’s cabin is supposedly sometimes occupied. Well . . . maybe by vermin.

Frank Schlomberg Cabin – He was a German cabinet maker who built furniture for the Hodges cabin.

The Wolford Cabin. Another reminder of not relying on hiking guidebook accuracy. This 2010 edition indicated that the cabin is open and available, but we found it locked up tight, and degrading like the others.

Wildflower Tour:

The flowers weren’t nearly as prolific as I’d hoped; however, as expected for lower elevation.

Finding this hidden spring-fed paradise was one the highlights of my trip.

Seeing aphids in the wild, accompanied by the ladybug munchers, was another unusual sight.

Lake Tour:

Lower South Fork Lake – a perfect place for swimming and lazing away a few hours.


Interesting rock formation and a peak down into the Scott Valley. On a clear day, you can see Mt Shasta.

Statuesque trees and rocks

Favorite tree

Trinity Alps ranges to the southwest

Creeks and Bridges:

Thankful for these steel bridges since I’m not the most confident with water crossings.

Just one of many refreshing creeks enjoyed during this outing.

Forest Mismanagement?

A lot of unhealthy forest and deadfall, accompanied by poor trail conditions in those areas.

Lest you think this lower elevation trip was a walk in the park.

Jan’s Tips:



Lassen – Hat, Terrace and Shadow Lakes

Terrace Lake in front followed by Shadow Lake. Reading Peak stands guard.

There are several trails leading to these lakes. We began from the Paradise Meadow trailhead.

The trail initially follows along the West Fork of Hat Creek, offering easy access and cooling off opportunities.


Paradise Meadow, with Reading Peak off to the left.

Climbing toward the lakes offers great views of Chaos Crags

And views back down into Paradise Meadow, as well as across the valley to Raker Peak and Badger Mountain, areas severely burned in the 2012 28,000 acre Reading fire.

Gorgeous Shadow Lake

Hat Lake is just off the Park Road near the Paradise Meadow trailhead. The West Fork of Hat Creek and seasonal Hat Lake are in this meadow, with Lassen Peak to the right and Crescent Crater visible to the left.

Jan’s Tips:

  • Be prepared for mosquitoes during the early summer months.
  • For map and trail information, reference my Trail Links page.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Lassen Volcanic National Park category.
  • A park pass is required. One can be accessed at the Visitor’s Center, or your Annual Whiskeytown Park Pass can be used.

CA: Trinity Alps – Foster and Lilypad Lakes

Ridge, Valley, Ridge, Valley . . .

Looking for an easy hike? Looking for flat topography? These traits are rare in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Views are earned, step by step, one ridge and valley at a time.

The Boulder Lake trailhead, near Coffee Creek, was the access point for this trip. Many refer to this as Big Boulder Lake due to nearby Little Boulder Lake, and as a way to reduce confusion with others in the Trinity Alps including Boulder Creek Lakes and East, Middle and West Boulder Lakes.

Boulder Lake

Heading north from Boulder Lake, the first ridge provides views of the Russian Wilderness and tucked just behind, visible on a clear day, the Marble Mountain Wilderness. Just to the right, cloaked in clouds, is Mt Shasta.

Conway and Lion Lakes (looking south/southeast)

Foster Lake (looking west)

Pick a seat, any seat, for outstanding sunset views.

Another ridge, another view! Looking west at Red Rock and Caribou Mountains.

From the ridge looking west down into the Union Creek drainage.

A bit of semi-flat meadows can be found in the valleys. Looking south/southeast toward the Parker Divide.

Within a short distance, the topography changes from lush meadows to dry, rocky terrain (looking east).

Looking south into the Parker Creek drainage and across at multiple ranges including Seven Up, Gibson, Siligo, Mumford, Tri-Forest, Caribou, Sawtooth, Caesar Cap and Thompson.

Looking north down Poison Canyon toward Mt Shasta. Thumb Rock to the left, Ycatapom Peak to the right. Lilypad Lake is in the basin.

Even more mountains visible to the west from this ridge top location.

Lilypad Lake (looking south at the ridge where the previous photo was taken)

Thumb Rock

To the right is Ycatapom Peak, below is Lilypad Lake. Looking northeast down Poison Canyon.

Looking down at Big Boulder Lake, and to the north Russian and Marble Wilderness areas, and Mt Shasta.

Mt Shasta

Jan’s Tips:

  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • Due to budgetary constraints, many of the trails shown on maps and published in guidebooks may no longer be maintained. On this particular hike, a GPS and maps were needed. Parts of the trail were snow covered, others were non-existent, or blocked by down trees.  The Forest Service Trail Condition Report should also be referenced.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

Thompson Lake – A Treasure Hunt Gone Right

Taking the road less traveled has become an overused phrase, but one appropriate for this trip which was all about lollygagging on twisty turny back roads.

Sandwiched between the National Forests of Lassen and Tahoe is Plumas National Forest, home to Bucks Lake Wilderness (geographically located between Quincy and Oroville).  I was drawn to the trails surrounding Bucks Lake and was especially interested in exploring the area where the Pacific Crest Trail passes through the wilderness.

I was quite surprised to stumble upon Thompson Lake.

Thompson Lake lies outside of the Bucks Lake Wilderness boundaries, as does much of Bucks Lake.

Thompson Lake seems to be a gem hidden in plain sight. It is a beautiful glacial lake, with distinct use trails, and is listed as a destination for fishing and leaf peeping. Information about this lake is sparse, although I did find it’s the drinking water supply for many of the surrounding cabins, thus the reason for no swimming and no boating.

Thompson Lake in the foreground; Bucks Lake in the background.

Sunrise over Bucks Lake

While exploring the trails above Thompson Lake, I stumbled upon this geocache. It is a mystery since it was found at Thompson Lake, not Bucks Lake. It is not registered on the official geocaching site, so I assume it was lost before planted and therefore never registered. Maybe someday I’ll retrieve, plant and register this misplaced cache. I’d love to share my story with the originator.


The treasure I was hunting on this particular day was beauty. I found it in the forests, the lakes, the trails. Traveling without an agenda, without expectations, without deadlines allowed me to enjoy my time at Thompson Lake and the Bucks Lake Wilderness. Maybe my return visit will be as a leaf peeper.


Lake Eiler – Thousand Lakes Wilderness

One of the lesser known areas near Lassen Volcanic Park is the tiny 16,000 acre Thousand Lakes Wilderness, assumedly named due to the many very small ponds and lakes, albeit no where near a thousand. As one can imagine, these ponds are mosquito magnets making visits to this area much more attractive during the fall and winter months.

Lake Eiler is the largest lake, with a back drop of Freaner Peak (not to be confused with Fredonyer Peak). I find the geology of this split mountain interesting.

Barrett Lake with a backdrop of (I believe) Magee Peak to the right and Fredonyer Peak to the left.

One benefit of winter hiking is finding out what critters share the trail.

Finding the beauty in the unusual on a winter day is another benefit.

Hard not to stop by Lassen on the way home, especially when lighting is good and it finally has a little white.

At this time of year, I’m normally snowshoeing Chaos Crags.

Jan’s Tips:

Cliff and Terrace Lakes – A Frozen Perspective

This is another set of lakes with twins in close proximity. The better known pair are located in Lassen while the more elusive ones are to the west of Mt Shasta in an area bordered by the Shasta-Trinity Divide and The Eddies. This latter set of lakes are the ones I visited on this winter day.

The first lake passed en route is Cedar Lake, obviously very shallow.

Lower Cliff Lake looked inviting

Cliff Lake’s rock cirque includes Upper Cliff Lake, our final destination. This one should be called Middle Cliff Lake in my opinion.

Terrace Lake (the pointy ridge in the far background represents the Shasta-Trinity Divide).

Upper Cliff Lake (I’m guessing it would provide a nice spring waterfall off the far end)

Looking down at “Middle” Cliff, Lower Cliff and Cedar Lakes. The Eddies are the range furthest north.

Mt Shasta is visible just to the right of the previous photo.

Jan’s Tips:

  • Grab a topo map and your GPS
  • Access to these lakes is off of the main road to Gumboot Lake
  • Unless you have a serious 4×4, you’ll start with a rocky road rock hike, followed by a more gentle terrain until you reach Cliff Lake.
  • There is private property to the northwest of “Middle” Cliff Lake, therefore access to Terrace and Upper Cliff must be accessed via the eastern route.
  • To reach Terrace, you’ll find some cairns, but plan for route finding and some manzanita scrambling.
  • Finding Upper Cliff, at least in the snow, proved a bit more challenging. You have the choice of heading through the woods or up through the rocks. We ascended through the rocks and descended through the trees due to the slippery conditions.
  • Plan on 6+ miles round trip with about 1,000′ elevation gain.
  • You’ll find fire rings and feasible campsites at most of the lakes.
  • Due to the 4×4 access to the lower lakes, it may be a busy place in the summer.

Trinity Alps – Granite Lake – A Winter Wonderland

What better way to celebrate the New Year than going for a hike? Okay, you’re right, I’d rather be snowshoeing or skiing, but when the weather gods aren’t cooperating, might was well explore some areas rarely accessible during the winter.

The Swift Creek trailhead is about a 2-hour drive from Redding

This lovely bridge provides for an easy crossing of Swift Creek

Plenty of beauty in the semi-frozen waterways along the trail

Stunning Granite Lake!

Looking northwest toward Seven-Up Peak

If you are lucky, on your return trip, you may find this view of Mt Shasta and the eastern ranges.

Jan’s Tips:

  • For winter trips, most likely you will find snow and ice on the Forest Service access road.
  • If you are new to winter hiking, you might want to reference my Winter Gear tips.
  • For trail and map information, reference my Trails Link page.

PCT Section O – Rock Creek to Burney Falls

Within a mile of the very popular Burney Falls State Park passes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

We made it a one-way trek starting at Rock Creek.

A slightly frozen Rock Creek, with a convenient footbridge for the PCT.

The Lake Britton Dam joins two sections of the trail.

Pit River as it depart Lake Britton

Crossing Burney Creek

Burney Creek, nearly frozen on this winter day.

Burney Creek ready to flow over Burney Falls

Burney Falls

The wind turbines dance along Hatchet Ridge

Grey Rock Lake

In close proximity to Castle Crags, albeit in opposite directions, are Gray Rocks Lake and Grey Rock Lake, the first being a much more obtainable target than the latter, which I dare you to find mentioned in any trail guide.

With the recent hiking and exploration I’ve been doing in the southern Trinity Divide region (i.e. Tamarack Lake), it only made sense to add the Grey Rock area to my list.

Grey Rock Lake is in the bottom right of this photo; highlighted by Mt Shasta & Castle Crags

Grey Rock Meadow

Without an ATV or mountain bike, a long rocky road walk is required to reach the cirque of Grey Rock Lake.

There are several springs in the meadow thus lots of Pitcher Plants

The not-so-gray, Grey Rock Ridge, with Mt Shasta standing guard.

The layers of mountains are remarkable

Maybe you’ll be one of the rare few who can find your way down to the lake.

The craggy heights of Grey Rock Ridge

Unobstructed views of Mt Shasta and Castle Crags are a just dessert

Jan’s Tips:

  • Research this hike well in advance, bring topo maps and GPS. Don’t count on the 5W27 trail; plan an alternate route.