Stuart Fork Trail to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes

Weaverville, California 96093

Stuart Fork Trail to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes

Stuart Fork Trail to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes Professional Review and Guide

"These tantalizingly named lakes lie at the end of a trail that crosses one of the largest alpine meadows in the Trinity Alps. There are numerous reminders of the gold mining activity that took place here in the past, including ditches, cabin ruins, and the remains of a dam on Sapphire Lake. This is a long trail and hard to follow in spots (especially above Morris Meadows), so be aware of your limitations before attempting this hike. Terrain: A mile of gravel road and dirt path through dense mountain forests, alpine meadows, and rocky glacial valleys."

Stuart Fork Trail to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes Reviews

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Both Emerald and Sapphire Lakes are awesome. It is a fantastic backpacking trail. In general, the hike is pretty moderate with gradual inclines. There is a little scrambling necessary below the lakes. This wilderness is so special - meadows, forests, lakes and mountains - take your time here and commune with nature.
Great trip into Emerald and Sapphire Lakes, trail is in decent shape, snow is gone, and the Trinities are in full bloom. Lots of great views with cascading water surrounding the lakes! Absolutely beautiful!!
Did this trail as a 2-night trip and it was perfect. Started off at the Stuart's Fork trailhead around 2pm on friday. Hiked about 10 miles to Morris Meadow and just barely beat the sunset with enough time to setup camp. The meadow is fine for a sleep over on your way to the lakes but keep it at that. Knocked out the 6 miles to Emerald lake the next morning which was a gorgeous hike. Got lucky and grabbed the best campsite at the lake which is off to the right and about 15% the way up the trail to saphire lake. There was only 2 other people camping up there and probably only saw another 3 passing by. Very private. Sucked up the entire 16 miles on the way out Sunday but worth it to stay lakeside on the second night. This was one of the best weekend trips imaginable. Weather was perfect, barely any people, no bugs, allows dogs, no bears or snakes, always near water, gorgeous rivers/lakes/peaks all in fall colors. I would absolutely recommend this as a 2-night trip just as long as you can handle the 16 miles out (its mostly downhill).
Took Stuart Fork to the camp site past the meadows, took us about 5 hours in the 100 degree heat. Plenty of water available and the trail was a slow steady gradual up. Went to Emerald lake as a day trip, not too many fish to catch unfortunately but great swimming hole! This was a beautiful spot though the heat and the number of rattlesnakes made it less than perfect. We spotted 9 in one day! Very few people so that was a bonus! Deer everywhere, even a buck on the trail. Saw one big bear. would love to go again at another time of year.
This was one of the coolest trails I have backpacked on - there was so much variety of terrain, from wooded forest with raging streams, vast meadows, to sawtooth ridge-like granite-encased trails and lakes. We did it there and back in 2 days, and at around 30miles round-trip I would recommend turning that into a 3 or 4 day trip instead.
The trail to the lakes is extremely well graded and easy. Absolutely anybody could do it, whick explains the throng of hikers making their way up. The lakes are beautiful, but not so grand as others I've been to, particularly in the Sierras. The hike to Caribou Lake makes a nice sidetrip, and a good workout, as you climb about 2500 feet in 2 miles. If you're looking for an exciting backpack trip, this is not the one for you. If you're looking for a mellow 3-day weekend, this is the ticket.

Stuart Fork Trail to Emerald and Sapphire Lakes Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
4,576 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
3 days
Year round, although access hindered from November to June by snow
Season & Limits
2,900 feet
Trailhead Elevation
5,800 feet
Top Elevation
Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Weaverville Ranger District
Local Contacts
USGS Thompson Peak, Mt. Hilton, Siligo Peak, Rush Creek Lakes, Caribou Lakes
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018