Redding: Emerald Lake

Wander through a remote paradise of high-alpine lakes in the lightly visited Trinity Alps on this 33.2-mile, long-weekend trip in Klamath National Forest.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 26.8


A Good Night's Rest

Location: 41.0048561096191, -122.995040893555

Bed down next to the cascading lullabies tumbling from Emerald Lake. ©Leon Nelson

Morris Meadow

Location: 40.9692497253418, -122.953956604004

Pause in crag-framed Morris Meadow, one of the grandest in the Trinity Alps. ©Leon Nelson

Sapphire Lake Reflection

Location: 40.9993782043457, -123.008239746094

The crystal blues of Sapphire Lake mirror the jagged Sawtooth Ridge. ©Leon Nelson

Ledge Campsite

Location: 40.9986305236816, -123.006744384766

Find an ideal perch next to Sapphire to crash for the night. ©Leon Nelson

Killer Descent

Location: 40.996639251709, -123.030075073242

Don't miss this exhilarating glissade down the permanent snowfield above Mirror Lake. ©Leon Nelson

Diving Into Sapphire Lake

Location: 40.9978561401367, -123.009460449219

©Leon Nelson

Sapphire Lake

Location: 40.9975051879883, -123.009101867676

©Leon Nelson

Emerald Lake

Location: 41.0049476623535, -122.996879577637

©Leon Nelson

Emerald Lake Mining Equipment

Location: 41.0028190612793, -123.001663208008

©Leon Nelson

Fishing In the Golden Reflection of the Sawtooths

Location: 41.0029983520508, -122.996879577637

©Leon Nelson

Gems of the Trinity

Location: 41.001579284668, -123.01831817627

©Leon Nelson


Location: 40.8764381408691, -122.92073059082

Go N on Stuart Fork Trail in gorge with labyrinth of side canyons


Location: 40.9121017456055, -122.949813842773

Cross Deep Creek footbridge and continue gentle ascent


Location: 40.933479309082, -122.958671569824

R @ Y on path shaded by fir, incense cedar, and sugar pines


Location: 40.9516983032227, -122.945320129395

Cross Deer Creek on metal Forest Service footbridge


Location: 40.9655914306641, -122.950119018555

L @ Y, continuing N on Stuart Fork Trail


Location: 40.9726219177246, -122.954559326172

Pause at crag-framed Morris Meadow, where late-summer yarrow and Indian paintbrush color the valley, surely one of the grandest in the Trinity Alps


Location: 40.983268737793, -122.95922088623

Camp 1: Overnight @ Stuart Fork Creek in tree-shaded campsites (permit required)


Location: 41.0030937194824, -122.975120544434

L @ Y after Portuguese Camp; Caesar Cap Peak graces the W horizon


Location: 41.0074272155762, -122.996063232422

Camp 2: Emerald Lake (5,512 ft.); best campsite is on Stuart Fork outlet stream @ E end of lake, 150 ft. below massive rock dam


Location: 41.0005111694336, -123.005935668945

Dayhike: Skirt N shore, passing rusty gold-mine relics to Sapphire Lake. At lake, trace S shore to a 100-ft. cascade plunging from Mirror Lake. Climb snowfield to SW


Location: 40.9954452514648, -123.026405334473

Mirror Lake (6,600 ft.): An alpine jewel within a deep cirque, perfect for swimming and snapshots of the Sawtooth Ridge. More adventurous types can glissade down the snowfield on return