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Monday, August 15, 2011


Canyon Creek In The Trinity Alps

Backpack Trip up Canyon Creek Trail

The trail head to Canyon Creek, about 14 miles from Junction City, is a long drive from the Bay area.  Recently, SG and I made the trip. Ripstein Campground, where we spent the first night, was just over 350 miles  It was worth it.  

Trinity Alps look different than the Sierras....more green. And the trail to the lakes never far from the stream. Wild flowers were abundant. 

Refer to "Hiking California's Trinity Alps Wilderness" by Dennis Lewon

We left on August 4th;  stopped at Weaverville Ranger Station for Wilderness and Fire Permits. Drop Box outside the Ranger Station can be used at all times for permit applications.  Then continued on Hwy 299 to Junction City and drove for about 14 miles on Canyon Creek Road to Ripstein Campground.  The campground is undeveloped, with vault toilet, no running water, but free, scenic, and only a mile from the trail head parking lot.  

Began our walk up the trail on the morning of August 5th.  Our plan was to go to Upper Lake but we changed our minds and decided to set up camp near the Middle Canyon Creek Falls, just under 6 miles from the trail head,with a view of the water roaring down.  The unusually high snow pack has resulted in rarely seen force of the water falls and streams.

Our pace was slow and we made frequent stops.  Took us more than six hours to reach the Middle Canyon Creek Falls. There were many backpackers, including women of all ages. And dogs, with their own packs. Many were repeat visitors from Shasta/Redding areas. We talked to backpackers who had come from Oregon.  There was a couple from Salem, OR, who had come to celebrate their weddding anniversary after being there 40 years ago.  

Trail markers were notably absent. Not a major problem. Our timing was just right. The weather was surprisingly mild.  Day-time temp not not much different than the South Bay; the nights were not uncomfortably cold, in the high 60's.  See Forest Service Weather Report updated on Thursdays.

We carried a bear canister but could have done without it.

Next day, August 6th, we left our camp site and hiked up to the Lower and Upper Canyon Creek Lakes with just water bottles, some trail mix, power bars, and fishing gear.  The lakes are very pretty, located in rocky area with 8,886 ft Sawtooth Mountain towering over the landscape.  There were many backpackers camped near the lakes.  We tried fishing at the Lower Canyon Creek Lake -- no luck, and didn't see anyone else catching fish -- before carrying on to the Upper Canyon Creek Lake, less than a mile away.

On the return trip from the lakes, we bypassed Boulder Creek campground and reached our tent  before darkness set in.

We broke camp on Sunday, August 7th, and headed back at 9:30 A.M. Took us about 4 hours to reach the parking lot. Then it was the drive home with a stop at Weaverville for lunch and gas for the car. A good trip.  The photographs below will give an idea of the trail, the water falls, and the lakes.

   At Ripstein Campground
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

At trailhead parking lot

© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

The beginning of Canyon Creek Trail
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

SG wearing netting as protection against flying insects
© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Distant view of the mountain range
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Wild Flowers, look like Indian Paintbrush

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

We forded quite a few streams, the major one a mile before the Lower Canyon Creek Lake 

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Lower Canyon Creek Falls
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Wild Flower - Name unknown

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

More Wild Flowers
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Our Campsite

 © S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

SG - near our campsite alongside stream from Middle Canyon Creek Falls

© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Another view of the stream near our tent 
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Middle Canyon Creek Falls, close up

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

On the trail to the upper lakes
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Field of Wild Flowers

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

We had to push through thick vegetation at some parts of the trail
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Last stream crossing about a mile before Lower Canyon Creek Lake
© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

The Sawtooth Mountain 8,886 ft

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Near Lower Canyon Creek Lake

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

Lower Canyon Creek Lake

© S.Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500)

SG fishing.  The trouts were elusive
© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Leaving for Upper Canyon Creek Lake
© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

A boy getting ready to jump into Upper Canyon Creek Lake
© S. Ghosal  (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Upper Canyon Creek Lake
© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Another view of Upper Canyon Creek Lake
© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Still some snow on the peaks
© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Pink Wild Flowers 
© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Back at the Lower Canyon Creek Lake - still no fish
© Musafir (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

A Brewer Spruce tree at Lower Canyon Creek Lake
© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

Heading back - all good things come to an end

© S. Ghosal (Nikon Coolpix P500) 

"The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders."
---Edward Abbey

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Such a great article it was which There were many backpackers, including women of all ages. And dogs, with their own packs. The lakes are very pretty, located in rocky area with 8,886 ft Sawtooth Mountain towering over the landscape. There were many backpackers camped near the lakes. Thanks for sharing this article.
I used your guide to decide to backpack this trail. Very glad I did. Thanks!

I like your post but I am confused as to why it is necessary to note that you saw women of all ages backpacking... yes, women back pack and women play sports professionally, are presidents, biologists that work in the woods etc., etc. As a woman who has been backpacking for 15 years sometimes alone even and who takes 14 year old daughter (since she was 7) often just the two of us, I find it aggravating for many reasons that people find this or that women backpack noteworthy.
Unless your implication is the that the hike is "easy" enough for women, I hope not.
I came across your post as I was looking for a mellow weekend backpack to do with my daughter.
To: Anonymous

No, I didn't mean to imply that it was an "easy" hike for women.

A late starter, I have been enjoying hiking in the wilderness for 20+ years. Have noted increasing number of women hikers, including solo hikers. I admire all who enjoy the activity -- men, women, children, and I am fortunate to have women hikers among my friends.

Thanks for visiting.

If you are planning a trip, consider Vogelsang High Sierra Camp Trail. Requires a permit.
Further to my comments (above), due to the Yosemite fire, and road closure, Vogelsang is not going to work.

Canyon Creek would be a good 2-nighter.
I hope the women I see on the trail don't have tudes like anonymous.
Great photos! Been there once myself. Will never forget that trip!

The rest of us women on trail don't have "tudes". You have a "tude" that you have to comment that women are on the trail! Wow so sorry to surprise you so much that we hike and backpack all on our own without men.
Thank you, Daniel

Enjoyed the photographs and post in the link.
Still a lot of snow on the mountains !

We went later in the summer.

Stay well and keep hiking.
Monica -

Astonishing that my mention of women hikers drew such an angry response. Nothing derogatory or critical was mentioned or implied.

Relax and enjoy the wilderness.
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