Backpacking Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes on the Trinity Alps Hiking Trails in Northern California (2023)

Canyon Creek Lakes and Boulder Creek Lakes are probably the most popular backpacking destinations in the Trinity Alps, and for good reason. The trails have everything a backpacker could want: cascading streams, lush meadows, lush wildflowers, deep lakes edged with rock, and towering granite peaks. This post has everything you need to find the trailhead and hike the trails.

Below I share an updated version of my book tour100 Classic Hikes: Northern California, fourth edition (new 2018). I am also including some photos I took while backpacking here in June 2014 with my partner Stephanie. Note that this was a year with exceptionally low snow cover. Don't expect similar snow conditions in the typical months of June. In fact, some years all of these lakes are still covered in snow by the end of June.

The Best 100 Day Hikes and Backpacking Tours in Northern California

Backpacking Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes on the Trinity Alps Hiking Trails in Northern California (2)The full color fourth edition features the best tracks on:

  • Northern Sierra Nevada
  • Lassen and Mount Shasta Areas
  • Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains
  • redwood coast
  • Wine Country and Bay Area

Includes driving directions and detailed maps and driving directions

Compress: in the amazon|at

Often available at Barnes & Noble, REI, and other quality bookstores. and outdoor shops(call ahead!)

(Video) Trinity Alps Backpacking | Canyon Creek Lakes Trail

Current trail conditions and trailhead access

go here forCurrent trail conditions in Trinity Alps and reports on road access to the trailhead.

Canyon Creek Lakes, El Lake y Boulder Creek Lakes Trail- und Wanderdaten

Length: 23.9 miles round trip
Walking time: 3 to 4 days
High point: 6,400 feet
Total elevation gain: 4,500 feet
Difficulty level: strenuous
Season: mid-June to early October
Water: Available in lakes and streams (clean first)
Maps: USGS 7.5' Mount Hilton,USFS Trinity Alps Wilderness
Training:Weaverville Ranger Station, Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Surround yourself with jagged, jagged granite peaks. Sunbathe on flat slabs of granite the size of a house. Walk through lush meadows. Swim in deep, cold lakes. This trip offers all of that and more as it takes you to the Trinity Alps. It's also a very popular hike, so avoid weekends, especially the three- and four-day variants.

California Fire Permits and Trinity Alps Wilderness Permits

Please note that campfires are not only prohibited at Canyon Creek Lakes and Boulder Creek Lakes, but also in areas 500 feet beyond the Canyon Creek Lakes Trail/Boulder Creek Lakes Trail junction and up to both lakes. Ideally, you should camp around this trail junction or at one of the many campsites downriver or upriver, and then take a day hike to the lakes. Please note that allBackpackers must have a California campfire permit, if they plan to make a fire.

You will also need a wilderness permit. They are available 24 hours a day at the Weaverville Ranger Station, Scott River Ranger Station, Big Bar Ranger Station, and Coffee Creek Ranger Station. For more information, call 530-623-2121.

Directions to the trailhead

Take Highway 299 toward Junction City, 8 miles northwest of Weaverville, then turn east on Canyon Creek Road, 250 feet southeast of the Junction City Bridge. Drive 13.2 miles on the paved road that follows Canyon Creek to the Canyon Creek Trailhead.

The Trail to Canyon Creek Lakes

The trail begins evenly through live ferns, dogwoods, broadleaf maples, strawberry trees, Douglas-fir, and canyon oaks. It crosses Bear Creek at 0.3 miles and then gets steeper. Pass a madrona along the 0.8 mile trail and gently ascend through a forest of ponderosa pine, black oak, frankincense cedar, and more arbutus trees. At 2.4 miles, take the trail 30 feet to the left for sweeping views of the sprawling basin containing a whitewater section of Canyon Creek far below the towering granite peaks. At 2.8 miles, consider the 0.2 mile driveway option to The Sinks, a series of pools in Canyon Creek. Otherwise, keep to the right, past a lichen-covered granite boulder and up a series of switchbacks that cross the same tributary three times. Look for a viewpoint to the left after 6 km, where you can admire a small waterfall that falls into a circular pool of clear water. Look out for Lower Canyon Creek Falls, which plunges into a deep pool a short distance downstream.

(Video) The Trinity Alps Like You've Never Seen Before - Canyon Creek Trail and Boulder Lake - May 2020

The trail gently passes through a fern community for 0.8 miles and enters a small field of corn lilies at Canyon Creek Meadow at 4.9 miles. cross several tributariesbordered with wildflowersand look for a short trail that leads to the base of Middle Canyon Creek Falls. From here head up through the woods past several campsites until you come to a fork in the road at 6.1 miles. The left trail is 2.4 miles to Boulder Creek Lakes (described below). Please note that there are other campsites near this trail junction.

For now, head straight for the most visited Canyon Creek Lakes. Ascend through a 0.6 mile stretch of open forest with more campgrounds, followed by beautiful misty Upper Canyon Creek Falls. The final stretch to Lower Canyon Creek Lake gradually climbs between granite boulders and granite slopes (follow cairns) and crosses Canyon Creek past some good campgrounds before reaching the lake itself after 7.1 miles. Be very careful when crossing Canyon Creek, especially during periods of high water flow.

Follow the burial mound along the west side of the deep blue waters of Lower Canyon Creek Lake and climb 1,300 feet for a great view of Upper Canyon Creek Lake and Sawtooth Peak looming steeply to the east. Continue close to the shoreline and carefully cross Outlet Creek to reach the eastern shore of Upper Canyon Creek Lake. From here, you have magnificent views of the prairie surrounding the higher reaches of Canyon Creek and the towering granite peaks and ridges to the north, including Thompson Peak, at 9,002 feet, the highest mountain in the Trinity Alps.

Arrival at the lake

Head northeast from the north side of Upper Canyon Creek Lake to El Lake. The 1.6km moderate climb requires following rock ducks and weak trail sections that lead directly to the lake, which is embedded in a narrow glacier-carved crevasse surrounded by craggy granite. Rarely visited, El Lake has a few campgrounds on the west side; Be sure to choose one that is away from the water. Explore the meadows adjacent to the north shore that surround a circular lake.

Best Day Trips in Alta California

Backpacking Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes on the Trinity Alps Hiking Trails in Northern California (8)Mein Compact Hiking Guide to the 125 Best Day Trips:

  • Mount Shasta and surroundings
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains
  • red area
  • Whiskeytown y los lagos Shasta

Includes driving directions and detailed maps and driving directions

(Video) Trinity Alps Wilderness - Canyon Creek Alpine Lakes Hike

Compress: in the amazon|at
Often available in bookstores. and outdoor shops(call ahead!)

The Boulder Creek Lakes Trail

For the 2.4-mile climb to the less-visited Boulder Creek Lakes, retrace your steps to the trailhead you reached at 6.1 miles. Wade Canyon Creek very carefully and only take this detour if you are very confident in your river crossing abilities. On the other side of Canyon Creek, turn left. The trail heads southwest through a swamp and then moderately ascends through Ceanothus and Manzanita chaparral and some plantings of sugar pine, western white pine, ponderosa pine, and loblolly cedar. Finally, it meanders steeply through scrubland and between granite boulders on the south-facing mountainside and brings you close to a sheer cliff. Follow the cairns near the cliff for another 0.3 miles to the lakes.

Set in a glacial bowl and surrounded by towering granite peaks, Boulder Creek lakes feature wet meadows, montane red heather, yarrow, dwarf pine, fir, mountain hemlock, and the rare willow fir. Small ponds and small streams surround the small lower lake in the southeastern part of the basin. Look out for mighty waterfalls spilling from the mouth of vast Boulder Creek Lake and plummeting down a granite cliff. The shallow lakes and ponds get plenty of sun, making long swims in the warm waters very enjoyable in mid to late summer. You'll find some campgrounds near the eastern shore of Boulder Creek Lake; Only choose points that are far from the coast.

Other Trinity Alps backpacking trips on this blog

I currently have two more detailed descriptions from two other backpackers, both based on the fourth edition of my guide from 2018.100 Classic Hikes: Northern California:

Pasea por Big Bear Lake en Trinity Alps

Meine Rucksacktour durante los Trinity Alps – Caribou Lake, Sawtooth Ridge, Emerald Lake, Morris Meadows

your recording

you did this trip, what is your experience? How does it compare to other backpacking trips in the Trinity Alps? Tell us in the comments below.

(Video) Boulder Creek Lakes at Canyon Creek

Camp for free in California's national forests

Backpacking Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes on the Trinity Alps Hiking Trails in Northern California (12)California National Forests and BLM areas have thousands of miles of dirt roads with many boandocking campsites.My book has all the information you need to get started (but it's not a guide to specific sites):

  • Find the best locations
  • Find the best campsites
  • Safety and ethics inside
  • what to drink

buy on amazon
CompressApple, Kobo y Nook

Hiking Map for Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes

Here is the map of the fourth edition of the100 Classic Hikes: Northern California.

Backpacking Canyon Creek and Boulder Creek Lakes on the Trinity Alps Hiking Trails in Northern California (13)
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(Video) Boulder Creek Lakes in the Trinity Alps

Related Posts:

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  • Explore Ridge Lakes and Sulfur Works in Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Hike the California Mountains in Early 2022 - Before the Summer Wildfires and Smoke
  • Surviving a bear attack in the Trinity Alps of Northern California
  • Brokeoff Mountain Trail - Better than Lassen Peak!
  • Hike the New Heart Lake Trail near Mount Shasta in 2022


1. Canyon Creek Lakes Trail / Trinity Alps Wilderness / 1 Night Backpacking (June 11-13th 2021)
2. Backpacking Canyon Creek Lakes In The Trinity Alps Wilderness of Northern California 2022
(Rick Saria)
3. Lower Canyon Creek Lake in the Trinity Alps Wilderness
(Northern California Hiking Trails)
4. Backpacking the Trinity Alps: Canyon Creek - Part 1
5. Trinity Alps - Canyon Creek Lakes Trail
(Miguel Gomez)
6. Trinity Alps - Canyon Creek Lakes
(Becca where2gonext)


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