Canyon Creek Lakes in Trinity Alps – Backpacking Guide


Canyon Creek Lakes in Trinity Alps is a moderately trafficked beginner friendly backpacking trip. I was 6 months pregnant when I did the hike and it was really enjoyable even during the pregnancy.

Article Contents

Canyon Creek Lakes Hike Stats:

  • Distance: 16 miles round trip to lower canyon creek lake and back.
  • Elevation:  3200ft (according to my watch)
  • Max Elevation: ~5800ft
  • Permit: Self Issued


Canyon Creek Trail Trinity Alps Weather:

How to get to Canyon Creek Trinity Alps Trail Head ?

From Redding the trail head is a good 2 hours drive to Weaverville, CA.

From Weaverville, head west on Hwy 299 for 8-miles to Junction City and turn right onto Canyon Creek Road. Drive approximately 14 miles to the road end, parking lot and trail head.

From Bay Area, we drove on a Friday night to Redding. We started driving around 7:30PM and stayed at a motel at Redding for the night. After a 6-hours of sleep, the day started early at 6-ish in the morning.

There is a pit toilet at the trail head.

When is the right time to hike this trail?

Fall, Spring and Summer are great times. Winter can be snowy and really cold. We hiked the trail in July. If you are planing a trip in early spring or winter, call the rangers to get the information on latest condition of the trail.

Trail Description:

At the trail head the sign board says 8-miles to lower Canyon Creek Lake and our guide book said it was 7 miles. I just mentally prepared myself for the longer distance, so I won’t be disappointed if it was indeed longer than guide book.

First couple of miles are pretty flat and shaded where you will be walking through the woods. It can give a perception that the hike to lower canyon creek lake is super easy.

There are quite a few access points to the river to freshen up and filter water for drinking. Eventually, the trail starts climbing up and opens up to the direct sun with no shades.

The trail is fairly easy to follow. Barely any reasons to be lost. Along the way there are few campgrounds in case needed near the water sources.

The day when we went, towards the evening it started pouring down. Luckily we had packed rain covers for backpacks and ponchos to cover ourselves. So, even in the summer, be prepared for sudden rain. It might have rained for a good one hour.

At about 4 miles you will pass by Lower Canyon Creek Falls and at mile 4.5 Middle Canyon Creek Falls.

At around mile 6 you will pass by Upper Canyon Creek Falls.

Half a mile before reaching lower lake there is a deep river crossing of Canyon Creek . Watch out for it. It’s doable, but it does get deep.

Our original target was upper canyon creek lake. But, due to the rain, we had slowed down reaching only the lower canyon creek lake by the time I was tired.


There is plenty of space for several tents at the Lower/Upper Canyon creek lakes. Even in July, the night got cooler and I needed a jacket.

Along the way there are few other campsites such as Mckay camp in case you decide to break down the trip. We met families with small children camping at McKay, which is right next to the Canyon Creek itself.

Self issued Wilderness Permits and California State Campfire Permits are required that is available at the trail head. This fire permit is technically required even for using camping stove.

Drinking Water:

As you can see from the pictures there is enough water at the river and the lake. All you need is a water filter.

If you are doing a backpacking trip that requires cooking, cleaning the utensils etc., I recommend carrying a water filter pump, so you can filter out a lot of water quickly.

Survivor Filter PRO – Virus and Heavy Metal Tested 0.01 Micron Water Filter for Camping, Hiking and Emergency. 3 Stages – 2 Cleanable 100,000L Membranes and a Carbon Filter for Family Preparedness.

If you are considering Trinity Alps backpacking, this trail is great starting point and there are side trails you can take such as Boulder Creek to Forbidden Lakes to make this a multi-day backpacking trip.

We settled down for a dry sunset and sumptuous dinner of dehydrated dhal/rice, parathas and some Indian snacks.

Next day morning, we thought of hiking up to upper lake and further to L lake. But neither happened. It was too relaxing too chill at campground and enjoy breakfast. Who wouldn’t want a relaxing trip ?!

Hike back down is pretty straightforward, as it’s an out-and-back trail.

Dogs are allowed on canyon creek trail trinity alps.

For an even easier hike or a very beginner friendly backpacking option, consider hiking Boulder Lake Trinity Alps.

Or if you want a bit more of a challenging one night backpacking Caribou Lakes Trinity Alps is another excellent option.

Canyon Creek Trail Trinity Alps Map:

Have you hiked Canyon Creek Trinity Alps or other trails in the Trinity Alps wilderness ? If so, do you have any trail suggestion for us ?

I know you are reading this post to do a hike at Canyon Creek Trinity Alps. Can I tempt you with a backpacking trip to Ansel Adams Wilderness or Desolation Wilderness ?

Pin this image to Pinterest:

canyon creek lakes, trinity alps