Canyon Creek Lakes and L Lake (Backpacking)

OutAndBack • 16.5 mi • 4260 ft

A hiking companion posed this question on a recent trip, “What if you could hike only in one mountain range for the rest of your life, which would it be?” After careful thought, I firmly responded, “The Trinity Alps!” From dense, low-elevation coastal forests to glaciated granite peaks and everything in between, few other mountain regions possess the wide range of diversity found in the Trinities. The Canyon Creek Trail takes backpackers into the best of the Alps: sapphire-blue lakes, tumbling creeks, dramatic waterfalls, wildflowers, rugged granite peaks flanked by permanent snowfields, exquisite scenery, and splendid vistas are all here in abundance. Beyond the backpacking, peak-baggers, amateur naturalists, anglers, rock climbers, and cross-country enthusiasts will find diversions aplenty in the heart of the range. This is a popular trail by Trinity Alps standards—with good reason—but perhaps also is the best sampling of what makes this area so spectacular and so unique.
Download Trail Guide
View Topo Map
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Weaverville
Length: 16.5 total miles
Elevation Gain: 4,260 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderately strenuous
Duration: 2 days
Season: Summer through early fall
Local Contacts: Trinity National Forest - permit required
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-min. Mt. Hilton;
Recent Photos ( View All Photos )
Got photos of this trail?  Upload Now

Recent Trail Reviews


The view was beautiful, but the weather did not cooperate. Too cold in October, but I will go back next summer to enjoy this great hike.


This trip gets 5 stars, but ONLY if you set aside a day to explore the Miter Basin lakes and peaks!!! At the north side of Rock Creek Lake, on the east side of the creek, there is a trail (not on the maps) that intersects the main trail. Take this trail northward. It eventually crosses over to the west side of the creek, past beautiful meadows, through awesome peaks, and into the Miter Basin. With some scrambling, you can venture up to Sky Blue Lake, Primrose Lake, or others. Leave your packs back at camp and spend a full day here! Temps at this time of year were around 100 in Lone Pine, but at the altitude of the trial we had perfect temps in the 60's daytime and frost on the ground at night. Our trip: Day 1 - Planned to hike to High Lake, but only made it to Cottonwood Lake #2 because of a storm. Days 2&3 - up and over New Army Pass and down to camp for 2 days at the Rock Creek Lake and our side trip into Miter Basin. Rock Creek Lake was beautiful, but if I could do it over again, I'd probably try Soldier Lakes instead. Space is limited at Rock Creek and it was crowded. Mosquitos were insane but not a real problem if you're equipped with good repellant. If you do camp down here, be prepared for an extra 1 mile of fairly steep uphill climb to get you back on the main trail. Day 4 - Onward to Chicken Spring Lake where we spent the night. I wasn't impressed with this lake. Evidence of illegal wood fires was everywhere along with trash and limbs hacked off of live trees for firewood - very disappointing! It does provide a place to stop if you want to shorten your hike and spend an extra day out, but don't go here for beauty or solitude. Day 5 - lots of switchbacks down, and a very sandy hike back to horseshoe meadow. The Cottonwood Lakes and New Army Pass were by far the best part of this trip. All-in-all a beautiful trip, but as I said you MUST visit Miter Basin!

View All Reviews