South Fork Coffee Creek Loop

Callahan, California

South Fork Coffee Creek Loop Professional Review and Guide

"Much has been made about South Fork Coffee Creek’s location—it’s entirely north of Coffee Creek. Still, the water flows south, so I suppose that’s something (though so does the water in the North and East Forks). In any event, whoever named the tributaries sure wasn’t holding a compass. Directional problems aside, this is a splendid hike through little-traveled drainages with lush meadows, incredible views, and a couple of good swimming lakes. Solitude is always a good bet (except at the lakes), and peak baggers will pass within easy reach of 7,617-foot Deadman Peak. Highlights: An off-the-beaten track hike through several scenic drainages, with a couple of on-the-beaten track lakes en route."

South Fork Coffee Creek Loop Reviews

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Very well maintained trail; however, some of the trail signs have been removed, or are difficult to find. Moderate hike that can be done in stages or entire loop.
If it’s solitude and scenery you are looking for, this is the perfect trail. We did it as a three day backpack, but started late on the first day so only did ~3 miles on the first day. Where the trail forks to follow the North Fork Coffee Creek (the way home according to the trail description) and the South Fork Coffee Creek we saw a Bear with two cubs right in the path, so we decided to do the remainder of the trail in the reverse direction. We camped the first night in a great little wooded camp site at Steveale Creek before crossing into Steveale meadows. We awoke to some black tailed deer walking through our camp site. From Steveale Creek we walked up through the meadows, across North Fork Coffee Creek, then up and over to a nice campsite next to Long Gulch Lake, which is dotted with numerous convenient, if a bit overused campsites. Our third day of hiking took us back along South Fork Coffee Creek trail. Finding the trail from Long Gulch Lake over the pass to South Fork Coffee Creek was a bit of a challenge due to downed trees and snow, but we finally saw a little wooden sign in a tree that pointed the way to Fish Lake. It’s been a while since there was any trail maintenance along any section of the hike and there were several fallen trees across the path making trail finding a little tough, but carefully placed cairns often mark the path! The views were certainly worth the inconvenience. The lakes were warm and clear, the mosquitoes weren't bad for this time of year and we hiked through some of the prettiest meadows I've ever seen. The only people we saw were at Long Gulch Lake, otherwise absolute solitude on a holiday weekend!

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Trail Information

Nearby City
4,000 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Best mid June through October
4,250 feet
Trailhead Elevation
7,450 feet
Top Elevation
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Local Contacts
USGS Deadman Peak; USDAFS Trinity Alps Wilderness
Local Maps