Canyon Creek Trail

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California 95563

Elevation Gain3,728ft
Trailhead Elevation3,090ft
Elevation Min/Max3090/5773ft
Elevation Start/End3090/3090ft

Canyon Creek Trail

Canyon Creek Trail is a hiking trail in Trinity County, California. It is within Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Trinity Alps Wilderness. It is 7.2 miles long and begins at 3,090 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 14.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,728 feet.

Canyon Creek Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Canyon Creek is a journey into the heart of the Trinity Alps, boasting large waterfalls, meadows, glittering lakes, towering alpine peaks, and old mining relics. This is the most direct route into the splendid core of the Trinity Alps’ granite wonderland.

The Trinity Alps are one of Northern California’s most spectacular mountain ranges. With the exception of the glacier- clad flanks of Mount Shasta, this is the most alpine region in the northernmost part of the state. Here there are towering granite peaks, powerful waterfalls, jewel-like mountain lakes, expansive meadows, and deep, remote forests. Indeed, all the best features of a mountain paradise are found in the Trinity Alps."

"Boulder Creek basin and the lovely lakes that mirror the serrated peaks above are a mere 2 miles off the heavily traveled Canyon Creek Lakes Trail, but receive far fewer visitors than the much more popular Canyon Creek lakes. Forbidden Lakes, tucked into a granite cleft 500 vertical feet above Boulder Creek Lakes see hardly anyone at all, thanks to the absence of a maintained trail and a nasty patch of nearly impenetrable brush, but the beautiful, diminutive lake and even smaller tarn are bordered by a permanent snowfield and worth the effort."

"This trip samples the sights and activities that make the Trinity Alps unique and marvelous. Thompson Peak, highest of the Alps, soars in snowcapped splendor above the deep, blue waters of Canyon Creek lakes nestled in the upper basin. Above Canyon Creek lakes in a side pocket of granite, contorted, diminutive “El” Lake reflects the permanent snowfields and rugged minarets on the north side of Sawtooth Mountain. A relatively cold microclimate contributes an almost alpinelike character to this basin and the three lakes despite the relatively low elevations, ranging from 5606 feet at Lower Canyon Creek Lake to 6529 feet at El Lake."

"Follow a popular trail into the Trinity Alps Wilderness to the lowest of a series of waterfalls on Canyon Creek."

"All of Canyon Creek’s attractions—waterfalls, sweeping granite cliffs, sparkling lakes, spectacular views, swimming holes of near-perfect proportions—can be found elsewhere in the Trinity Alps. But you’d be hardpressed to find anywhere else where they’re all packaged into one pleasant hike. Such an abundance of beauty has not gone unnoticed. Highlights: Simply one of the most beautiful hikes in the Trinity Alps: lush meadows, spectacular waterfalls, gorgeous lakes, and awesome views. Expect lots of company."

"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."

"A land of deep canyons and jagged granite ridges, the Trinity Alps are the greatest alpine highlight of the Klamath Mountains. Impossibly alluring, they crown the thick forest of the region, a vibrant playground of lakes, rivers, and wildlife."

"A paved road into a box canyon provides rare convenient access to an otherwise remote albeit grand mountain kingdom. The creek remains within earshot most of the way between glimpses of the falls and dramatic views of craggy peaks as you gradually climb to a clearing that reveals the best view of the falls and surrounding palisades.

The 2-million-acre Shasta-Trinity National Forest, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, is the largest national forest in California. The Trinity Alps Wilderness bordering Shasta Trinity and two other national forests was known as the Salmon-Trinity Alps Primitive Area until 1984, when Congress designated it a wilderness area."

Canyon Creek Trail Reviews

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This is a gorgeous trail in the Trinity Alps. We backpacked for three days and, while it was seriously cold at night, the hike was amazingly beautiful. Water is plentiful here (the waterfalls are awesome) and so are the wildflowers. We saw some lizards, gopher snakes, lots of birds (osprey!), and butterflies. A wonderful backpacking trip to bring dogs and kids.
Killer Hike/Backpacking check it out pics and description at
Very nice, quite steep and in places very rocky "trail" ... more like a faint track that is lost in the talus fields. Just keep following the red wands marking the track from the Horse Camp hut. Views from the valley rim down to I-5 and the cindercone are wonderful. Next time I'll scramble across the rockfields of the valley and try to climb to the saddle between Shastina and the Shasta summit. Use good shoes, hiking poles and bring enough water. Be prepared for very steep hills and sharp rocks. Considering all this, it's actually quite easy trip.
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!
Foolish to attempt this in November. No snow, but it was absolutely freezing at 12,000 ft at night. The trail is easygoing to begin with, and we had hoped to bag Langley, but it was just too cold to continue. Best attempt this in summertime (we tried the follow late May and awoke to white out snow storm). Be sure to spend night at trailhead to acclimate to altitude. Still, what we saw halfway through was beautiful and pristine and remote (since no one else in their right mind was backpacking here at these times).
This was my first foray into the High Sierra and a fine one it was! Two huge advantages to this area in August. First, the weather was perfect. Simply magnificent every step of teh way! Second, I didn't use repellant (nor did anyone else in the 4 person group) and I didn't get a single mosquito bite! The trails were immaculate. The lower areas had sand which is a bummer going uphill, but it was very smooth and well maintained. The 2nd 1/2 of this trip isn't nearly as spectacular as the first. Chicken Spring Lake is nice, but isn't even close to the Cottonwood area. Spend a day or more day-hiking. Miter Basin is truly spectacular although nothing is growing there. Highly recommended! Rangers spent a lot of time talking about bears, but I didn't even see any bear sign the entire time. I'm sure they are around, but by August, they may be lower where there is more food. WATCH OUT FOR THE ALTITUDE!!! This can't be stressed enough. Spend a day or two at elevation prior to starting or plan VERY short days until you are used to it. One of the four of us was pretty much debilitated by the altitude. Enjoy! Wayne
Wow! There was 5 of us that did this trip in 3 days. We went backwards on this trail (started Horseshoe Meadow through Cottonwood Pass and ended at Cottonwood Lakes). The first day we pushed hard(~9miles), as we wanted to get as close to New Army Pass as possible. Just a note, when you first started off at Horseshoe Meadow, the first junction, be sure to make a RIGHT. Do NOT walk through the meadow (as we did and later found out we went the wrong direction). Getting past Cottonwood Pass wasn''''t all that hard, and we stopped at Chicken Spring Lake for lunch as well as a much needed rest. After lunch, we continued on the trail and camped near the junction of Siberian Pass Trail and Cottonwood Lake Trail. There was a stream nearby for water, and it was a great campsite! Great solitude on this portion of the trail.. we only saw about 3 other people, and that was near the beginning of the trail! No one else was at the campsite.. We camped here to get ready for New Army Pass. New Army Pass was grueling (for me), but just keep going and you''''ll eventually make it to the top. The views up there are AWESOME! Going up, there was no snow blocking our way and was a "easy" hike up. We rested on top of New Army Pass for a good 30 minutes or so, and started our way down. Going down, there was snow on a small portion, but it was easy enough to get down with trekking poles (a few of our members did not even have trekking poles and made it down with no problems). We made our way through High Lake and decided to rest there for a few minutes. Make sure to stop by, as there are many Golden Trouts swimming at the shallow ends of the lake. We pushed on and camped at Long Lake the second night. The campsite was right off the trail, and there were quite a few people camping there that night. all in all, this was a great trip. everyone who went ranked this trail among their top trails due to the variety of scenery you get to see.

Canyon Creek Trail Photos

Trail Information

Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Nearby City
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Weaverville Ranger District, 360 Main St., Weaverville 96093 (530) 623-2121
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Hilton CA
Local Maps