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.

PCT Section P – Deadfall Lakes – Weather or not?

Mother Nature loves to show her fickle side in spring. Forecasters have a 50/50 chance of being in sync with her moods. When they predict 30% chance of precipitation, I say 70% chance of no precipitation. But, then again, do I want to be wet? or cold? or snowed upon? On this particular weekend, forecasters said 30% chance on Friday, 50% on Saturday. I decided to roll the dice and selected Deadfall Lakes as my destination.

Middle Deadfall Lake

It’s extremely unusual to be able to access this area in the spring. The pass doesn’t usually open until late June or early July.

From July 2, 2010 (the day after the pass opened)

There are two primary access points to reach the Deadfall Lakes basin. First, via the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), heading south from Parks Creek Pass or north from the Gumboot trailhead. Or, second, from the Deadfall Meadows trail, the one I selected for this adventure.

In the early season, this trail should be avoided. It’s a catchment for snow melt and creek overflow, and as a LNT (Leave No Trace) promoter, traveling off trail or widening paths in sensitive areas is inappropriate. Later in the season, this meadow has the most beautiful wildflowers and water plants including the magical carnivorous pitcher plant.

As with any wilderness area, the WILD in WILDerness should be expected. Meadows, thickets and nearby creeks are perfect habitat for bears. On this day, just beyond the trail sign, in front of those thickets, was the blackest, shiniest-coated bear I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.

Along the way I was treated to creek crossings and a couple of early blooms. Opportunities exist to replenish your water and to get your feet wet.

Lower Deadfall Lake (looking north)

Lower Deadfall Lake (looking south toward Middle Deadfall Lake)

Tucked in out of the wind, watching the building and receding storm clouds at Middle Deadfall Lake

By 8pm, the wind had died down and the skies were clearing.

9pm is hiker’s midnight, all is calm. The question remains, did I hedge my precipitation probability bet correctly?

At 4:30am, snow cometh; it didn’t last long, just enough to pitter-patter upon the tent and leave a trace of evidence. A few more offerings were made; on/off, on/off, on/off . . . . (photo time about 8:30am)

By 9:30, things were looking pretty good and it looked like Mother Nature was being kind to me.

Evidence of the tiny bit of snow. The weather continued to be fickle with storms clouds, wind, and snow showers coming and going making the decision of the day’s plan more challenging.

By 11:30, Mother Nature released her fury. With the skies socked in, there was no reason to hike for views, and no sense spending hours secluded in my tent (since I’d already lollygagged away the morning), thus it was time to high-tail it off the mountain.

It snowed and sleeted all the way down the trail, reminding me of how quickly the trail can become masked by snow-covered topography.

What was a dry easy log crossing becomes a dangerous obstacle when covered with snow and ice.

Looking back up at the mountains whence I’d come reaffirmed my decision to hike out vs hunkering down and waiting out the storm.

Memories are made from taking chances and expecting the unexpected, while making wise decisions about weather and conditions. Planning and preparation are keys to success. On this trip, I brought gear for inclement weather, notified others of my whereabouts and plans, had maps, compass, and electronics to assist in my travels if need be.

Jan’s Tips:

  • This area is loosely considered part of the Klamath Mountains, Mount Eddy range, and Shasta-Trinity Divide Mountains. For purposes of this blog, I’ve categorized the various mountain ranges that parallel Interstate-5’s western side from Castella to Gazelle, as the Shasta-Trinity Divide Mountains.
  • Reference my Trinity Divide Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For day and multi-day access points along the PCT, I recommend the book, “Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail – California” by George and Patricia Semb.
  • Information about the PCT can be found on my PCT Love page.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Divide Mountains category, Hikes near Mt Shasta category, and PCT Hikes category.

Rogue River Trail – Variety is the Spice of Life

While the Rogue River may be best known as a boaters paradise with 215 miles of wet and wild water, to the northwest of Grants Pass lies a hikers paradise, the 40-mile Rogue River National Recreation Trail. Wildflowers? Did someone say WILDFLOWERS?

There were thousands of yellow iris lining the trail.

Plenty of color and variety to keep the eye stimulated

Lots of bridges make for dry foot creek crossings

Mixing things up a bit.

Plenty of opportunity to cool off or filter some water, either in one of the many creeks, streams or the river.

Use your imagination of how the landscape would change if the river were 55′ higher.

Sand, much like snow, shares secrets of our wilderness companions.

Whisky Creek Cabin – Did you know Oscar Mayer had canned Wieners?

Zane Grey Cabin, pretty nice setting don’t you think? I’d be happy writing here.

Watch where you are walking . . .

This is NOT a flat trail (mileage is a bit off due to the GPS bouncing off of the canyon walls).  This is from Graves Creek to Quail Creek to Graves Creek.


Jan’s Alerts:

  • Poison Oak – If you are highly sensitive, this might not be a good trail option. While the trail is mostly clear, it’s hard to avoid the prolific poison oak along the trail, near the creeks, accessing side trails, camping, etc.
  • Heat – This is a HOT trail in the summer. Many of the streams are seasonal, much of the trail is exposed, and there are significant miles between beach access points.
  • Congestion – Once the river gets busy with boaters, the lodges open, and the crowds hit the beaches, solitude may be a challenge.
  • Ticks – Good to be aware that this is an area known for ticks.

Jan’s Tips:

California Ground-Cone (Boschniakia strobilacea)


PCT Section O – Ash Camp to Butcherknife Creek (near McCloud)

Not far from Lake McCloud (aka McCloud Reservoir) is the Centipede Gulch Trailhead offering easy access to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

From this trailhead, you can hike west toward the McCloud River, quickly passing Ash Camp which fronts impressive Hawkins Creek.

Hawkins Creek at Ash Camp

Foot bridge over the McCloud River

On the footbridge looking west down the McCloud River

Heading east on the PCT (from the Centipede Gulch Trailhead)

Gorgeous mature forest in this gulch

Plenty of shade, moss and soft surface trail gradually ascending toward Grizzly Peak at 6,252′

Fantasy rock formations with moss and ferns adorning them

One of the many small creeks we crossed; I’d be surprised if this one would be running in the summer.

One of the more active streams crossing the trail

Butcherknife Creek stopped us on this March day (which followed a few weeks of significant rain).

Jan’s Tips:

Roaring Creek Falls – Shasta County Hidden Gems

For those who enjoy visiting places off the beaten path, ones that require research, detective work, good navigation skills, and a fair amount of off-trail bushwhacking and scrambling in some pretty steep gnarly terrain, then I dare say you’ll be delighted with the sights and sounds of the Roaring Creek and Little Roaring Creek Waterfalls.

Roaring Creek Waterfall

Little Roaring Creek Waterfall

Rainbows make everything better!

Jan’s Tips:

Brandy Creek Falls

In my opinion this is one of the nicest jaunts in Whiskeytown National Park, especially when one combines the Lower Brandy Creek Trail with the Brandy Creek Falls Trail.

It is a trail for all seasons. Easy creek access means lots of cool dips in the summer. Spring brings the bright greens of ferns and moss. The dense forest provides an autumn tapestry of color. The naked trees of winter grant unobstructed views of the many waterfalls encountered along the trail.

Upper Brandy Creek Falls

Jan’s Tips:

  • A park pass is required, buy the annual pass and you can also use it at Lassen. If the visitor center is closed and you have to buy a day pass, take it with you to buy your annual pass and you’ll receive credit.
  • Plan for slippery rocks and mud along this trail.
  • See my Whiskeytown trails link page for more information.
  • Use this link to find more Jan’s Jaunts in Whiskeytown National Park

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

South Fork National Recreation Trail, Yolla Bolla Wilderness (10/19/13)

While this trail is rated for “very enjoyable family hiking” due to the “gentle grades, those with an aversion to twisty turny roads or swinging footbridges may not find it so pleasant.

The swinging footbridge, high above the river, can even foil a wary dog!

If you keep your eyes peeled, you too may spy a Bald Eagle

The majority of this trail allows for side-by-side walking, such a rare treat.

There are a few points along the trail where you gain sufficient elevation to enjoy a view.

Jan’s Tips:

(1) The trailhead is about a two hour drive from Redding

(2) Details about the trail can be found at this Forest Service link