FKT: Nate Smith - Granite Peak Trail, Trinity Alps Wilderness (CA) - 2020-06-19

Route variation
up & down
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2h 26m 18s
GPS track(s)


Whoa! That was steep! 

So far I haven't been disappointed with any of the trails in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. 

One thing that I've noticed is that most are a bit longer with final distances 15+ miles. Sarah and I spent the day preparing for a quick trip north of here and I was searching for a shorter option for the afternoon that still provided substantial vertical gain and could act well as an additional FKT route for this area. After reviewing the map and talking to local knowledge, Granite Peak via it’s direct trail seemed like the right option. 

Direct really is the best way to describe this trail. After making it to the trailhead, you essentially cover 1,000 vertical feet per mile until you reach the summit. No let up. All business. I understood this looking at the map and reviewing some trail notes online but realized that I didn’t really understand it until I got started. You would assume that there’d be some relief. Nope. 

Right from the trailhead it's go time. You start with an old logging road for about 0.7 miles. No switchbacks. Just slope grade up to 30%. Then it transitions to a single track but keeps steep. After 1.7 miles you enter the Trinity Alps Wilderness and it continues as a steep set of switch backs up until the granite domed summit block and final summit perch. 

Views were incredible with Mount Shasta to the north, Trinity Lake and Lassen to the east, Red Mountain and Middle Mountain directly to the west and the layers upon layers of mountains throughout this part of northern California. 

After a quick transition at the top, I started the descent. It went quickly. The final mile I was averaging above/below a 6min/mile dropping a little less than 900 ft of vertical (hoping that I didn’t catch a tree root and go flying). Top to bottom in just over 40min. 

I brought 2.2 liters of water expecting it to be quite hot and not provide any water sources. There ended up being a couple and since I did this in the afternoon, I was in the shade all the way until the top. Regardless, it was 90 F at the trailhead when I started so I ended up going through quite a bit of water. I DID NOT want to run out on this one. I ended up consuming 3 Spring Energy gels and a pack of Honey Stinger gummies. 

This route is a bit of a Trinity Alps test piece. Definitely makes sense! Stoked for others to get after it.