The Trinity Alps is a vast wilderness, encompassing 525,627 acres over parts of three national forests. Little is visible from roads. In truth, a very small part of the wilderness is practically explored on day hikes. The Trinities are a backpacker's wilderness, with over 600 miles of trail. One must penetrate deep into the range and spend several nights in the backcountry to experience the sights these mountains have to offer. One could spends months on the trail and not expend all the trip possibilities available. It should also be noted that, in spite of the abundance of trails, this land is truly wild. Only two peaks in the high eastern half of the range have "maintained" trails to the top and there are numerous "scrambles" (routes so rugged or precipitous the Forest Service refuses to officially recognize it as a trail). Indeed, it is the mystery of mountains seldom seen that is not an insignificant part of the Trinity Alps allure.
The Wintun Indians originally settled the Trinity Alps region. In the early nineteenth century American explorers began to encroach. The famous mountain man Jedidiah Smith passed through the region during his traverse of the western coast of North America. A few years later The Reading Expedition explored the region. Major Reading incorrectly thought the Trinity River flowed to Trinidad on the coast, thus giving the river, mountains and county their name. In truth, the river flows into the Klamath River near the present day Yurok Indian Reservation .
Gold was discovered in 1848 and hordes of prospectors soon poured into the region. Weaverville sprang up quickly and was soon the base of operations for gold miners. Settlements were established deep in what is now the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Evidence of this history can be found in many places, including Canyon Creek. McCay Camp was originally a miner’s camp. In the upper canyon, just below the outlet falls of Lower Canyon Creek Lake , several large iron pipes can be seen in the creek. These are the remains of the nineteenth century Stonehouse mining operation. Even greater evidence of this past can be found in other parts of the Trinity Alps, such as Papoose Lake.
Logging began late in the area. Consequently, most of the Trinity Alps consist of virgin timber. This is particularly dramatic in the Green Trinities, but numerous other locations in the Red and White Trinities also boast some enormous old growth trees. Logging in the Trinity Alps was permanently prohibited when the area was designated the Salmon-Trinity Alps Primitive Area. It was designated wilderness by the 1984 California Wilderness Act. . . . more.
Cattle ranching has also been a part of the Trinity Alps, primarily in the northern part of the range, in the Scott Mountains region. Ranchers from the Scott Valley drive their cattle up to lush grasslands during the summertime. Other areas in the Trinities, especially the Stoddard Lake area have seen significant ranching activity in the past, though this has decreased. Don't be surprized at cattle crashing through the undergrowth on hicking in this area. You shoud be aware of hunting season and wear orange vests to avoid being accidentally shot. See 2017_deer_seasons_by_zone.pdfAs seen in map below, Trinity Alps in in zone B2.
For the fly fisherman, this area affords endless fishing opportunities. The streams and creeks have mostly German Browns. Rainbow, Kokanee, Brook, and Golden Trout are up here too. You need to know where to find them. Learn to think like a trout. Most freestone streams are reasonably poor aquatic insect habitats hence a good fish may be almost anywhere. Gray pieces of water downstream from a tubulent flow, the tail or head of riffles, where two streams, creeks join. Any deep water hole is a place to probe.
Fly fish patterns are dries, sizes 10 - 22, and nymphs/wets size 10 -18.
Caddis Flies are the most prevalent insect of intererst to the trout. Oddly enough, the Royal Coachman, size 16, is the top producing fly on rivers, creeks and streams.
Don't overlook that Trinity Lake itself has blue gill and champion size small mouth bass. Best methiod is fly fishing rivers, creeks and streams is using an upstream cast on the lightest gear (0~2 weight lines) you can find.
see Mastering Fly Fishing
See previous page for some of the best flies for the area. (Twenty five years of experience tells it like it is.)