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Emerald and Sapphire Lakes

Intermediate

Trail

27.1 mile 43.7 kilometer loop
90% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 3,991' 1,216 m
Descent: -3,992' -1,217 m
High: 6,071' 1,850 m
Low: 2,709' 826 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Map Key

Trail shared by Miguel Vieira

Make your way through spectacular mountain scenery to the headwaters of Stuart Fork

Miguel Vieira

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers

Free wilderness permits and campfire permits are required to enter the Trinity Alps Wilderness.

Overview

Run through forests and meadows to two lakes nestled in alpine scenery.

Description

From the trailhead, follow an old road to the Trinity Alps Wilderness boundary at Cherry Flat. Climb gradually along the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River.

After four miles, the trail crosses Deep Creek over a bridge and then crosses Oak Flat.

At five miles, pass the turnoff for the Alpine Lake Trail, choosing instead to continue straight. The trail continues to climb gently, crossing Deer Creek over a bridge at around seven miles. Pass the junction with the Deer Creek Trail at eight miles and reach Morris Meadow at nine miles.

Morris Meadow has awesome wildflower displays all summer and plenty of campsites.

Beyond the meadow, the trail turns west into more mountainous territory. At 12 miles, you'll reach Portuguese Camp, the last good spot to camp before the lakes.

The trail becomes steep and open as it climbs to the west toward Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is actually man-made, created for mining operations a century ago. There's still a lot of old mining equipment lying around, and this is a good place to take in the relics of the area's mining history.

Follow the cairns around Emerald Lake's north shore and then climb 600 feet to Sapphire Lake. At the deep, clear lake, enjoy the views of Thompson Peak and the Sawtooth Ridge.

Return the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Look for Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, incense cedar, bigleaf maple, and Pacific dogwood in the lower elevations.

Rattlesnakes and black bears are common along this trail.

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Jun 23, 2019
Jake Ramsby

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 6 votes

#734

Overall
  4.8 from 6 votes
5 Star
83%
4 Star
17%
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Run Rankings

#124

in California

#734

Overall
68 Views Last Month
5,666 Since Jan 12, 2017
Intermediate

0%
17%
50%
17%
17%
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Photos

An alpine lake with waterfalls on the granite cliffs high in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area in Northern California. from Prindleman under CC BY-SA
May 24, 2017 near Weaverv…, CA
Morris Meadow in the winter.
Oct 22, 2019 near Weaverv…, CA

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