FKT: Sarah Morris, Nate Smith - Canyon Creek Lakes Trail, Trinity Alps Wilderness (CA) - 2020-06-15

Route variation
main trail out & back with Boulder Lakes
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5h 26m 36s
GPS track(s)

Sarah's Report: (photos)

Nate and I have been up in Weaverville for about a month now enjoying the early summer and spending time with family. Last week Nate was able to head up to Lower and Upper Canyon Creek Lakes for the first time while I recovered from an unexpected infection in my digestive track (fun). Nate’s experience of poor weather and no views last week, combined with my eagerness to get back into some alpine terrain after being cooped up, made a trip back up the Canyon Creek drainage sound particularly appealing.

We started from the parking lot at about 1:00pm on a Monday. Still plenty of residual traffic from weekend backpackers, but very manageable. Temps were in the high 60’s/low 70’s and a little overcast, which made for a very pleasant run up the trail to the Canyon Creek Lakes. We power hiked up the final climb to the first lake, which kind of zapped my energy. Took a quick photo at the first lake, ate some food, and then carried on to the upper lake before turning around and heading down. 

At the junction between Canyon Creek Lakes and Boulder Lake, we were both not ready to be done with alpine lakes and granite cirques, so decided to cut right and head up Boulder Lake. A knee deep creek crossing and steep, brushy, rocky trail brought us up to the pass and beautiful views of high peaks, steep walls, waterfalls and the lake. A quick, non-technical “scramble” across the short valley brought us to the main lake. By this time a storm was starting to move in and drop the temperature significantly, so we did not spend much time here before starting to make our way down and out of the wind. I can not overstate how worth it this extra trip to Boulder Lake is. After growing up in this area and spending so much time in the Trinity Alps, I have never been to this spot and am so glad we chose to head up here. So happy to know there’s still so much to discover in my home mountains.

From here we made our way back down towards the trailhead. At this point I was starting to feel the effects of some GI distress and cramping, so there were times where I moved slower than I would have liked on very runnable downhill. All in all though, we made it back to the trailhead about 5 and ½ hours from when we started and had an excellent afternoon out. Can’t wait to do more!


Nate's Report:  (photos)

Last week’s ascent up to the lower/upper Canyon Creek Lakes was pretty energizing. I was disappointed that the weather prevented views of the surrounding granite cliffs/peaks but pretty excited by the quick access high into the alpine. 

Sarah recently recovered from an unexpected medical emergency late last week and was wanting to get back up into the alpine asap. Given that I didn’t see much while I was up Canyon Creek on Friday, it made sense to head there together after work and give it a go again. This time we decided to include the additional climb up to the Boulder Lakes. Neither of us had been there before. 

I expected the parking lot to be less full given the crowds I saw there starting their weekend backpacking trips last time. A few spots were open this time arond, but it was still very crowded. 

Weather was fantastic. A bit cool with high 60’s/low 70’s. We each threw in our ultralight shells from Rab just in case but otherwise wore shorts and t-shirts. 

Knowing the trail and slight reroute this time, we managed to make it up to upper Canyon Creek Lake a little faster than I did on Friday. The views were amazing! 

We headed about 2 miles back down the trail to the turn off which takes you up to the Boulder Lakes. Again, uncharted territory for both of us. 

A creek crossing mid shin followed by some thick overgrown trail led us up to a steeper portion and eventually a boulder scramble and then the Boulder Lakes. WHOA. This spot was incredible. We both think hands down possibly the more beautiful alpine lakes either of us had seen. Pristine. Beautiful. Empty. 

We went all the way to the furthest lake, took in the view a bit more and headed down. 

We noticed on Strava that a lot of people stop at the lower Canyon Creek Lake and don’t take the time to go across the boulder field to the actual Boulder Lakes. I highly encourage that everyone take the time to cover the extra little bit of terrain. It’s worth it! Both are well carined and non-technical. 

Get it!