California Trails

Redding: Papoose Lake

Earmark a long weekend for this 31-miler linking tree-shaded lowlands, old mining homesteads, waterfalls, and a beautiful alpine lake.


Start out at 3,000ft on the Hobo Gulch trailhead to make your way through shady stands of dense Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Madrone while traveling N on North Fork Trail. Once you reach Keystone Flat the river will take a bend where Backbone Creek meets the Trinity. Here, Sugar Pines and Dogwood line the banks. Continue upstream to pass where China Creek spills into the Trinity. You will also pass a dilapidated cabin that is no longer standing. Once you reach a fork in the trail keep right onto Rattlesnake Creek Trail. A slim notch of Martin Gulch rises to the SE. Cross the river ahead. You then will reach another fork in the trail; stay right to keep trekking on Rattlesnake Creek Trail. At the relics of Browns Mine keep an eye out for old bottle and nails. Your next water source will be .3 miles away at Mill Creek. Enni Camp directly off of Rattlesnake Creek Trail is a good overnight spot if you choose to stop. You can also continue SSW on very steep and indistinct terrain consisting of the Papoose trail. This is done by linking cairns until you reach Papoose Lake.

Papoose Lake is set in a deep, jagged cirque at 6,600 ft. The glassy blue water offers top-notch swimming. The best campsite will be found at the outlet stream.

A day hike to the saddle N of Mt. Hilton can extend your stay in the beautiful Papoose Lake area. Allow a full day to travel over large boulders. Along the way keep an eye out for incredible snapshots of the craggy crown of Wedding Cake Peak as well as multiple waterfalls spilling into the Canyon Creek Lakes. Retrace route back to Papoose Lake. 

Editors note: Google terrain view misidentifies Papoose Lake. The correct name is Grizzly Lake. Google topo view confirms this mistake.Mapped by Leon Nelson