Trinity Alps & Vicinity: Including Whiskeytown, Russian Wilderness, and Castle Crags Areas: A Hiking and Backpacking Guide

Trinity Alps & Vicinity: Including Whiskeytown, Russian Wilderness, and Castle Crags Areas: A Hiking and Backpacking Guide

by Mike White


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This hiking guide describes 600 miles of trails and cross-country routes, while spotlighting 55 of the best day hikes and backpack trips in the Trinity Alps and beyond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899978093
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 12/04/2018
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 617,140
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mike White was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He learned to hike, backpack, and climb in the Cascade Mountains, and he honed his outdoor skills further while obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Seattle Pacific University. After college, Mike and his wife, Robin, relocated to the Nevada desert, where he was drawn to the majesty of the High Sierra.

In the early 1990s, Mike began writing about the outdoors, expanding the third edition of Luther Linkhart’s The Trinity Alps for Wilderness Press. His first solo project was Nevada Wilderness Areas and Great Basin National Park. Many more titles for Wilderness followed, including the Snowshoe Trails series; books about Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Lassen National Parks; Backpacking Nevada; Top Trails: Northern California’s Redwood Coast; Best Backpacking Trips in California and Nevada; Best Backpacking Trips in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico; 50 of the Best Strolls, Walks, and Hikes Around Reno; and Afoot & Afield: Reno-Tahoe. Two of his books, Top Trails: Lake Tahoe and 50 Classic Hikes in Nevada, have won national awards.

Mike has also contributed to the Wilderness Press classics Sierra South and Sierra North, as well as Backpacking California. In addition to his books, Mike has written for Sunset, Backpacker, and the Reno Gazette-Journal. A community college instructor, Mike is a featured speaker for outdoors groups. He and Robin live in Reno; his two sons, David and Stephen, live in the area as well.

Read an Excerpt

Kanaka Peak Trailhead

TRIP 1: Kanaka Peak Loop

Kanaka Peak offers splendid views from Mount Shasta all the way to the Yolla Bollys.

  • Trip Type: Day hike
  • Distance & Configuration: 6.5-mile loop
  • Elevation Change: 3,600' (average 544'/mile)
  • Difficulty: Moderate–strenuous
  • Season: Year-round; best April–early June and late September–November
  • Map: USGS Igo
  • Management: Whiskeytown NRA, 530-242-3400,
  • Nearest Campground: Peltier Bridge

The splendid views from the summit of 2,616-foot Kanaka Peak are well worth the physical effort. Make sure you’re clad in the proper footwear and have a pair of trekking poles for the steep, ankle-twisting, knee-wrenching descent from the top of the mountain. The 6.5-mile Kanaka Peak Loop passes through a mixture of black oak woodland and mixed conifer forest, with small pockets of lush riparian foliage lining the banks of Paige Boulder Creek and its tributaries. The dense vegetation clears enough on top of Kanaka Peak to allow the wide-ranging vistas that span from Mount Shasta in the north down the Sacramento Valley to the south. If possible, pick a day right after a storm for the best views, when cleansing rains have cleared the air of dust and pollutants.

The elevations within Whiskeytown National Recreation Area are low enough to allow for year-round hiking, although snow may blanket the area for brief periods in the winter. Swollen creeks may cause more of a problem on this route for hikers then, as the Kanaka Peak Loop fords Paige Boulder Creek three times during the circuit—check with park officials for current conditions. In summer those low elevations usually produce scorching afternoon temperatures, generally more than 100°F, when Whiskeytown Lake is littered with water-loving recreational enthusiasts attempting to beat the heat. Spring is perhaps the best time for a visit, as the temperatures are usually mild, the creeks are flowing, and colorful wildflowers line the trail. Fall can also be a fine time to experience the area, with pleasant temperatures and deciduous plants and trees offering a touch of autumn color. Be watchful for poison oak along the loop, particularly on the upper ridge of the peak, where the trail is nearly overgrown with encroaching vegetation.

GPS Coordinates N40° 34.937' W122° 33.964'

Directions Head west from Redding on CA 299 for 8 miles and then turn left (southwest) onto Kennedy Memorial Drive. The visitor center, immediately on the right, is the place to obtain current information and purchase a daily, weekly, or annual pass that is required to park at any NRA trailheads. With pass in hand, drive away from the visitor center toward Whiskeytown Dam. Note: Don’t follow Kennedy Memorial Drive across the dam—rather, turn left at Paige Bar Road. After 1.1 miles, turn right across from the Mount Shasta Mine parking lot onto the dirt surface of Peltier Valley Road, reaching Peltier Bridge Campground after 0.7 mile. The road past the campground becomes rough and steep for the next 1.1 miles on the way to a small parking area near the trailhead. This section of the road is subject to winter closure; if the gate happens to be closed, hikers must park at the campground and walk the road to the trailhead.


The Kanaka Peak Loop begins by dropping immediately to a crossing of Paige Boulder Creek, and then climbing about 30 yards to an obscure, unmarked junction with a single-track path on the left heading southeast along the stream bank (this trail will be the return leg of the loop). Proceed ahead on the old road, climbing stiffly through the dappled shade of a mixed forest. Keen eyes should spy poison oak lining the side of the road, offering a reminder to avoid these plants by keeping to the roadbed. After a 0.75-mile climb, you reach a signed junction with Peltier Trail on the right.

Pleasantly graded trail leads away from the junction, around the fold of a hill, and then down to a crossing of a seasonal stream that, when flowing, picturesquely spills down a grassy and rocky nook bordered by lush plants. Shortly past the crossing is a three-way junction with the Kanaka Cutoff on the left, offering a short return to the trailhead for those looking for an early escape route.

Farther along the loop trail, a moderate climb leads to the crossing of a usually dry seasonal stream. Beyond there, the roadbed dwindles to a single-track trail and begins a stiffer, switchbacking climb through Douglas-firs, tan oaks, and Pacific madrones on the way toward the ridgecrest above. Tree-filtered views of Whiskeytown Lake along the way offer a hint of the much more extensive views that start to unfold upon gaining the top of the ridge west of Kanaka Peak. Following a fence line delineating the recreation area boundary from private property to the south, you drop steeply into a narrow saddle and then climb just as steeply toward the top of Kanaka Peak. As you near the 2,616-foot-high summit, the forest parts enough to allow stunning views from the grass-covered ridgecrest in every direction. Snowcapped Mount Shasta is the dominant Cascade volcano to the north, while much lower Lassen Peak and its immediate neighbors lie to the east. The range of peaks to the south is the Yolla Bolly Mountains, while the broad plain of the Sacramento River stretches away into the distance. Nearer at hand, Whiskeytown Lake lies at your feet and 6,199-foot Shasta Bally, with a panoply of communication towers littering the summit, seems a stone’s throw away to the west-northwest.

Once you’ve fully admired the view from Kanaka Peak, prepare yourself for the knee-wrenching descent down the mountain’s northeast ridge, with Whiskeytown Lake in nearly constant view. Park officials have recently shown interest in realigning this section of trail to follow a less severe grade, but private property nearby limits their alternatives. After a mile or so of steep descent, the trail bends northwest and continues the sharp drop until easing just before a junction with the closed Martha’s Ditch Trail on the right. A short distance farther, you reach another junction with the Paige Boulder Trail, also closed to public use.

Gently graded trail leads away from the junction, crossing a usually dry drainage and then dropping down to a boulder hop of Paige Boulder Creek. From the crossing, a steady ascent leads well above the creek through open forest and continues upstream through the canyon. Where the path moves a good distance away from the creek, you come to a pair of junctions, the first with the unmarked Ridge Trail and the second with the Logging Camp Trail to Peltier Bridge Campground. Now heading southwest, the trail ascends back toward the creek, reaching the north junction of the Kanaka Cutoff Trail on the way. The sound of the creek returns shortly after the junction, as the trail proceeds upstream beneath the welcome shade from the riparian vegetation lining the banks to an easy boulder-hop. Once across the creek, continue along the south bank, soon passing around a closed steel gate and then closing the loop at the junction with the old roadbed. From there, retrace your steps back across Paige Boulder Creek and shortly to the trailhead.

Table of Contents



Preface to the Sixth Edition

Summary of Trips

Introduction to the Area

  • Natural History and Environment
  • Human History
  • Access, Facilities, and Supplies

  • Highways, Cities, and Towns
  • Car Camping and Other Recreational Facilities
  • Resorts, Bed-and-Breakfasts, and Pack Stations
  • Hiking and Backpacking Basics

  • When and Where to Go
  • The Trails
  • Staying Safe
  • What You’ll Need
  • Permits and Practices in the Wilderness
  • How to Use This Book
  • Caring for the Backcountry
  • Map Legend
  • Chapter 1: Trips in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

  • Trips from CA 299

  • Kanaka Peak Trailhead

  • Kanaka Peak Loop
  • Brandy Creek Falls Trailhead

  • Brandy Creek Falls
  • Boulder Creek Falls Trailhead

  • Boulder Creek Falls
  • Mill Creek Trailhead

  • Whiskeytown Falls
  • Chapter 2: Trips in Trinity Alps Wilderness

  • Trips from CA 3: Weaverville to Callahan

  • Stuart Fork Trailhead

  • Stuart Fork to Emerald, Sapphire, and Mirror Lakes
  • Stuart Fork to Alpine Lake
  • Deer Creek and Four Lakes Loop to Long Canyon
  • Granite Peak Trailhead

  • Granite Peak
  • Long Canyon Trailhead

  • Bowerman Meadows
  • Long Canyon, Lake Anna, and Billy-Be-Damn and Echo Lakes
  • Swift Canyon Trailhead

  • Granite Lake
  • Granite Lake and Bear Basin Loop
  • Deer Flat, Thumb Rock, and Landers Creek Loop
  • Lake Eleanor Trailhead

  • Lake Eleanor and Shimmy Lake
  • Boulder Lake Trailhead

  • Boulder Lakes
  • Boulder Lake to Poison Canyon and Lilypad Lake
  • Boulder, Lion, Foster, and Sugar Pine Lakes
  • Coffee Creek Trailheads

  • North Fork to East Fork Coffee Creek Loop
  • Union Creek and Dorleska Mine to Big Flat
  • South Fork Coffee Creek Loop to Trail Gulch and Long Gulch Lakes
  • Adams Lake
  • Caribou Basin and Sawtooth Ridge
  • Sunrise Basin, Horseshoe Lake, and Ward Lake Loop
  • Upper CA 3 Trailheads

  • Stoddard Meadow, Stoddard Lake, and McDonald Lake
  • Stoddard Lake, Doe Lake, and Eagle Creek
  • Big, Little, and Wee Bear Lakes
  • Tangle Blue Lake
  • Pacific Crest Trail: Scott Mountain Summit to Carter Meadows Summit
  • Trips from Forest Service Road 93: Callahan to Cecilville

  • Callahan Area Trailheads

  • East Boulder Lake
  • Middle Boulder and Telephone Lakes Loop
  • Mavis, Fox Creek, and Virginia Lakes
  • Hidden Lake
  • Trail Gulch and Long Gulch Lakes
  • Cecilville Area Trailhead

  • China Gulch to Grizzly Lake
  • Forks of Salmon Trailhead

  • High Point to Rock and Red Cap Lakes
  • Trip from CA 96: Orleans

  • Salmon Summit Trailhead

  • Salmon Summit Trail to Red Cap Lake
  • Trips from CA 299: Weaverville to Willow Creek

  • Weaver Bally Trailhead

  • East Weaver and Rush Creek Lakes
  • Canyon Creek Trailhead

  • Canyon Creek and El Lakes
  • Canyon Creek to Boulder Creek Lakes
  • Hobo Gulch Trailhead

  • North Fork Trinity River to Grizzly Lake
  • North Fork Trinity River to Papoose Lake
  • New River Divide Loop
  • Green Mountain Trailhead

  • Green Mountain Trail to North Fork Trinity River
  • New River Trailhead

  • New River and Slide Creek to Historic Mining District and Eagle Creek
  • New River and Virgin Creek to Salmon Summit and Devils Backbone
  • Chapter 3: Trips in Russian Wilderness

  • Trips from Forest Service Road 93 and CA 3

  • Deacon Lee Trailhead

  • Waterdog and Russian Lakes
  • Bingham Lake Trailhead

  • Bingham Lake
  • Duck Lake Trailhead

  • Big Duck, Little Duck, and Horseshoe Lakes
  • Paynes Lake Trailhead

  • Paynes Lake
  • Trip from Sawyers Bar/Etna Road

  • Taylor Lake Trailhead

  • Taylor, Hogan, and Big Blue Lakes
  • Chapter 4: Trips in Castle Crags Area

  • Trips in Castle Crags State Park

  • Castle Crags State Park Trailheads

  • Root Creek
  • Crags Trail to Castle Dome
  • Flume Trail, PCT, and Bobs Hat Trail Loop
  • River Trail
  • Trip from Forest Service Road 26

  • Forest Service Road 26 Trailhead

  • Castle Lake Trail to Mount Bradley Lookout

The Bigfoot Trail

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About the Author

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