Redding, CA: Stuart Fork to Smith Lake

This 23-mile out-and-back in the Trinity Alps features pristine mountain lakes, stunning views and an easy, off-trail scramble.

Reserve three days for this 23-miler in the Trinity Alps. On day one, begin with a 6-mile, gradual climb up the Stuart Fork Trail. The trail winds between two granite mountains, paralleling Stuart Fork. At mile 6.6, veer right onto the Bear Creek Trail and climb 2,500 feet in 2.4 miles. At the top of the ridgeline, head west to Alpine Lake and trace the northern banks to a campsite above the water. The next day, pack up camp at Alpine Lake and head back to Waypoint 14. Leave the marked trail, and head north for a bushwhack up the gully. After a ½-mile ascent, the brush ends, revealing an exposed granite face. Continue ascending northwest up the face for 0.5 mile to a clearly visible saddle. Crest the saddle and descend down the granite face to Smith Lake. After crossing the small outlet stream for Smith Lake, turn west to reach the eastern edge of the lake and several campsites. Wake up early on your final day to catch the sunrise and pack up camp. Retrace your route up-and-over the saddle, back to Waypoint 14. Turn left on the Bear Creek Trail and continue descending to Stuart Fork and your car. Mapped by Leon Nelson