Discovering Northern California
Trinity County

Trinity County is Spectacular Any Time!

Ask anyone in Northern California about this county and you'll hear:
Trinity Alps, clear mountain lakes, primeval forests, wild rivers and streams, get-away-from-it-all camping, hiking, Northern California fishing and hunting, backpacking... these are the things for which the area is known.

It's rough, it's rugged, and it's in-your-face-gorgeous!

From Spring flowers and rushing waters, to Summers in the wilderness...

Autumn in the Alps, and on into the stunning views of Winter...

Trinity is sure to please the outdoors lover in us all!

Turbulent Terrain, A Scarcity of People,
Bracing Beauty... Priceless

Trinity County is where you go to get away from it all.

The population density is around four people per square mile.

It contains no traffic lights, freeways, parking meters, or incorporated cities.

Not even Weaverville.

There were no chain stores or restaurants until 1999. There still aren't many.

The accommodations here are more often called inns, motels, lodges, cabins, bed-and-breakfasts, or cottages than hotels.

Is there anywhere else in California that can make claims like these? I think not!

But Trinity has a lot to offer if what you're interested in is time-forgotten and remote places in nature's wonderland! Explore the county: the mountains, the wilderness, and the rivers - a nature lover's Paradise!

Discovering the Trinity Alps

The Trinity Alps are part of the Klamath Mountains, which includes some of the most isolated, untamed, and unvisited wilderness areas in California.

The scoured-out mountain lakes with their crystal-clear waters and the serrated ridges of the mountain tops are evidence of ancient glacier activity; travel up to Thompson Peak and discover there's one glacier that still remains.

I remember my dad telling stories about spending weeks with his brother as teenagers, doing a little Northern California camping in these mountains during the summers. Think about it - no GPS devices, no cell phones, no Internet - no one knew where or how they were for weeks at a time! It's hard to imagine today!

But they would hunt and fish to put food on the campfire, trek the forest trails, and skinny-dip in the lakes and streams, never crossing paths with another soul the whole time!

Discovering the Wilderness

Consisting of over a half-million acres, the Trinity Alps Wilderness encompasses over 400 miles of trails, the headwaters of the Salmon and Trinity Rivers, small lakes and ponds nestled into glacial cirques, year-round snow-covered peaks, thick forests, granite slabs and pinnacles, gold mining relics, and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Favorite activities include hiking and backpacking (map and compass skills are indispensable), cycling and mountain biking the many loops and fat-tire trails, gold panning (there's still gold to be found in them thar hills!), rock climbing, fishing in the lakes and streams for trout, steelhead, and Chinook, and the hunting of bear, deer, and band-tailed pigeons.

Another favorite pastime is wildlife watching. I found this photo by Carolyn Whitson of a close-enough-for-most-of-us encounter with a Mountain Lion, I thought you'd enjoy.

Best time to visit this wilderness area is between late June and late July, or - if you want to avoid the crowds (which really aren't very crowd-like) - head up in the Fall.

Insider Secret: Just between you and me - shh, don't tell anyone - from what I'm told by people in the know, the fishing is best during Spring and Winter!

Discovering the River

The River; Photo Courtesy of Fish & WildlifeThe River; Photo Courtesy of Fish & Wildlife

A completely wild and untamed river prior to the 1960s, the river then enjoyed a footloose and unfettered tumble from headwaters to confluence, but alas, no more.

Dammed twice in the 1960s to provide irrigation and municipal water for the Central Valley Project in California's agricultural center, most of the river's water was diverted South, resulting in near disaster to the salmon and steelhead populations.

With minimum annual flows finally established for the river in the early 1980s, the waters downstream of the Lewiston Dam were restored sufficiently to support runs of salmon and steelhead (maintained partly by hatcheries), and to provide opportunities for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

It was finally designated as the Trinity Wild and Scenic River by the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1981.

Discovering Trinity Lake

The waters of Trinity Lake, which is actually a reservoir, have left a bad taste in the mouths of many residents.  It was created by the 1962 damming of the river through the efforts of then U.S. Senator Clair Engle.

And though the lake is much more attractive than most California reservoirs - tree-lined and beautiful with grassy shores and water that's warm enough for swimming during summer months...

And even though it provides near-idyllic conditions for houseboating, water-skiing, fishing, and the like...

Many locals are still bitter and have never really forgiven Senator Engle and the U.S. government for taming their river with a dam!

An effort was made to re-name the lake in honor of Senator Engle after his death, but it was so unpopular locally that most would not use the new name. Even today, if you were to ask for directions to Clair Engle Lake, you might just be sent to the local sewage treatment facility instead (as a prank, of course).

We'll have more to share with you about the area in the coming
weeks; things like:

  • Attractions
    Attractions to visit and attractions to participate in!
  • Beaches
    Even with no coastline we'll find beaches!
  • Communities
    There are no incorporated towns, but there are villages!
  • Parks and Preserves
    Designated wilderness, national forests, and wildlife areas!

Please continue your exploration of what Northern California has to offer by using the Nav Bars in the left and right columns or by using the links at the bottom of the page.

Search this Site

Like what you're finding here at Discovering Northern California? Then please share with the Social Network of your choice.

And thanks for coming!

Related Articles
Trinity County

Trinity County Attractions