1. BEST FAMILY CAMPING Tucked into a small, forested basin, Hidden Lake may be more modest than higher-elevation hikes, but it’s a great spot to introduce kids to backpacking, says Anthony Alpert (below). “You’ll find wildlife, fishing, and off-trail adventures less than a mile from the trailhead.” From the Pacific Crest Trail-Carter Meadows Summit trailhead, the 20-minute hike climbs gently to the lake’s north shore.
2. FAVORITE LAKE Caribou Lake—the largest in the Alps at 72 acres—is a favorite getaway for good reason. “There are few things as stunning as the granite ridges reflected in this deep-blue lake,” says Jane Hedve Brenenstahl (below). From Big Flat Campground, the 10-mile trail (one-way) passes through fir and mountain hemlock (see signs of a 2008 wildfire) and under 7,000-foot peaks. Camp on the granite benches that border the lake.
3. PREMIER CAMPSITE This spot along Canyon Creek isn’t named on maps. But it should be called “paradise,” says Alpert. Nestled in thick pine and fir forest and guarded by enormous boulders, the site overlooks the meandering stream. To get there, follow Canyon Creek Trail roughly four miles upstream to the grassy flats flanking the left side of the trail.
4. FAVORITE SUMMIT Trinity views don’t get any better than from the top of 8,162-foot Siligo Peak, says Brenenstahl. Hike it via 12-mile Long Canyon Trail (prettiest) or 17-mile Stoney Ridge Trail (most solitude) for views of 8,886-foot Sawtooth Peak and the emerald hues of Diamond, Luella, Summit, and Deer Lakes.