Back to index Trinity Alps Backpacking Trip
Trip Date:  07/15/1979

: 35 Miles

Vertical Gain: 4100'

Group Size: 11

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate   Hard    Strenuous
Trinity Alps Backpacking Trip
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Trinity Alps Trail Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 40 55.393, W 122 49.097     End Coordinates:   N 41 04.289, W 122 56.304
Car Shuttle Req'd:   Yes Parking Directions:   Take Interstate 5 north to Redding and then tak e the highway 299 exit (Eureka Way) west.  Continue to Douglas City, then turn north on Highway 3 (Main Street) toward Weaverville.  Continue on Weaverville to Trinity Lake Reservoir.  Turn left on Long Canyon Road and continue to the trailhead location.
Hazards of Note:   Bear cannisters are a necessity in this area.  The hiking can be considered relatively remote with little to no cellular phone coverage. Crowd Factor:   Negligible.  Emerald Lake is most likely the location where you will meet any other people on this adventure.
General Notes:
This is a backpacking trip of at least 4 to 5 nights.   The first section heads up Long Canyon, gaining nearly 4000 feet of elevation on this first 10 miles of trail.  Passing over Bee Tree gap, you will drop down into the Deer Lake area, just below Siligo Peak.  There are three other lakes around the outside of this peak, which are worthy of exploration as time allows.  Camping at Deer Lake is available at the Northeast end of the lake.
The next section of trail heads north from this site, dropping down a significant amount as you navigate a large half circle to the north and then west, bending back south before cutting over a small ridge as you head back north toward Morris Meadows.   There are many areas here to set up camp for the night, with the impressive Sawtooth Ridge mountains looming over you to the north, almost 2500 feet straight up.
The third day will lead you north along the base of the Sawtooth Range, where you will eventually bend torward the west, and then climb up a rise to the next campsite at Emerald Lake.  Emerald Lake, Sapphire Lake above it, and then Mirror Lake furthest above all sit in a bowl surrounded on three sides, and the alpenglow off the mountains in the morning and evening is spectacular.
The next section of trail requires a very early wakeup, as you will be climing nearly 3000 feet over 92 switchbacks along what is known as "Suicide Ridge" to get to the top of the Sawtooth Ridge and drop down into the Caribou Lakes basin.  From Emerald Lake you will backtrack just a little over a mile, and then head north up the interminable switchbacks that climb this ridge.  The views back down into the valley and toward Morris Meadows are amazing, and can help take your mind off the difficult climb.  Once you achieve the summit, drop down into the basin on the eastern side of Caribou Lake, and then hike between Lower Caribou on the west and Snowslide Lake on the east, finding agreeable campsite locations along the shores of Snowslide Lake.
The last section of trail heads out at Big Flat, following the trail along the western flank of the ridge containing Little Caribou Lake high above, turning east as you round the mountain and thenhiking along the ridgeline until you drop down into Big Flat and the end of the trail.

Our group at the Long Canyon Trailhead, eager and ready to hit the trail. Group at the start of the hike
Nearing Bee Tree gap, after having gained almost 4000 feet in the first 8 miles of the journey.
Nearing Bee Tree gap
Looking back down the aptly named Long Canyon from near the top of Bee Tree gap. Looking back down Long Canyon
Dropping down into our first camping area at Deer Lake after finishing up the arduous Long Canyon climb. Deer Lake
Me and the group taking a break by the river on the way toward Morris Meadows. Group taking a break
From along much of the early part of the trail, 7 Up Peak towers above and provides an indication of the height we will have to attain on the second to last day. Looking at 7 Up Peak from the trail
Looking up at Sawtooth Ridge in the distance from our camping area at Morris Meadows.  Two days later we would climb up the ridge just to the left of the highpoint furthest away. Sawtooth Ridge from Morris Meadows
Another shot of our group, this time as we prepared to head out from Morris Meadows and on to Emerald Lake. Group in Morris Meadows
Emerald and Sapphire Lakes in the canyon just at the west end of the Sawtooth Range are spectacular lakes and offer some of the most incredible Alpenglow colors I have ever seen. Emerald Lake
Amazing vistas await whenever you look back down the mountain as you climb the 92 switchbacks and 2500 feet of the "Suicide Ridge" trail up Sawtooth.  Morris Meadows is far below in the distance. Looking down at Morris Meadows from Sawtooth
Myself stopped near the top of Sawtooth Ridge.  What an incredible climb that is! Yours truly
GPS track of the hike starting at the bottom right. GPS Track of the hike