Redding, CA: Stuart Fork to Alpine Lake

This 17-mile out-and-back in the Trinity Alps features pristine mountain lakes, stunning views and an easy, off-trail scramble.

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-Mapped by Leon Nelson

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 27.4



Location: 40.87593, -122.920082

Hike northwest on the Stuart Fork Trail.


Location: 40.881187, -122.924266

The trail winds through the valley, paralleling Stuart Fork. Ahead: Pass through Cherry Flat.


Location: 40.884237, -122.930746

Bear left @ Y-junction and continue hiking on the Stuart Fork Trail.


Location: 40.891002, -122.935231

Cross Lightning Creek (great place to filter water).


Location: 40.904675, -122.945058

Cross Little Deep Creek and continue hiking northwest. A scenic canyon opens up to the right.


Location: 40.910318, -122.948663

Cross the footbridge over Deep Creek.


Location: 40.922998, -122.955465

Oak Flat Campground: Several campsites are available; great fishing and swimming, too.


Location: 40.93172, -122.957568

Bear left @ Y-junction and cross Stuart Fork. Caution: During spring runoff, the creek may be too high to cross.


Location: 40.933082, -122.958834

Trail curves to the left (south). Prepare for a steep uphill.


Location: 40.927619, -122.961087

Begin a 1.9-mile climb, gaining 1,362 feet of elevation.


Location: 40.931866, -122.968254

Bear right @ Y-junction with Bear Creek Trail. Although the trail at this point is not officially maintained by the Forest Service, it typically remains unobstructed.


Location: 40.936389, -122.972224

Pass a campsite 50 feet to the left. To refill water bottles, filter water at Alpine Creek.


Location: 40.937057, -122.973129

The final climb before Alpine Lake starts here. Prepare for a steep, 1.2-mile climb, gaining 1,084 feet of elevation. The trail climbs past manzanita, offering little to no shade.


Location: 40.944753, -122.983403

Turn left (west) to reach Alpine Lake. During the springtime, coreopsis wildflowers fill the meadow directly ahead.


Location: 40.944169, -122.98866

Alpine Lake (6,150 ft.): This deep-blue lake is surrounded by thousand-foot granite cliffs and fragrant pines. Forget the overused sites at the base of the lake and walk around the northern shoreline to a campsite at the lake’s far edge.


Location: 40.942284, -122.993919

Lakeshore may become overgrown; look for rabbit trails to follow through the thick brush.


Location: 40.941509, -122.99398

Continue across a meadow to the southwestern tip of Alpine Lake.


Location: 40.941349, -122.993338

The best campsite at Alpine Lake, this large tent site sits 40 feet above the water and has wide, open views of the surrounding mountains.

To reach Smith Lake, retrace your route back to Waypoint 14. Turn left and head northeast off the marked trail. Bushwhack up the gully below the ridgeline on the right.