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Lake Eleanor and Shimmy Lake

Trinity Alps Wilderness

July 5th, 2017

7.7 miles
2110 vertical feet
Total Time: 6:20

Starting elevation
4726 feet
Max elevation
6352 feet

Rating: 5/10

Directions: From Weaverville, drive north on Highway 3, past Trinity Center, turning left onto the Swift Creek Trail turnoff (FR 36N25). After about 1.4 miles, turn right toward Lake Eleanor - Poison Canyon Trails. Continue on FR 36N24 to the parking area at a bend in the road.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

The best part of this hike may be that the access road is in great shape, much better than all the other dirt roads we'd been on. When we arrived at the trailhead, we found a little dirt parking lot with space for 3 or 4 cars, and no one else there. We would not see another person on this entire hike.

The trail starts climbing almost immediately, heading west and then veering north, then shortly crossing the road which we could have driven on. That would have saved us a few minutes of walking. Only about 15 minutes after starting the hike, we reached Lake Eleanor. This is a pretty little lake with some lily pads on the edges. We followed the trail around the lake, then past a small meadow.

Lake Eleanor

Lake Eleanor

The trail starts to climb steeply now, on some overgrown trail. It crosses the road a few times; at some points the road is the trail. At one point at one of these crossings we saw a battery set next to a rock, perhaps as a reminder to pay attention since it would be easy to lose the trail here. We remembered that on the way back (if we didn't turn right coming back, we'd stay on the road and miss the trail).

Can you see the frog?

Can you still see the frog?

There's the frog

We were several times in danger of losing the trail, but kept our eyes open, looking for rock stacks to lead the way. After slogging through for a while, we decided we wouldn't be able to reach the lake for lunch, so we stopped among some big rocks and trees to eat.

Trinity Lake


After our break, we resumed the climb. At one point the views opened up a bit and we could see Mt. Shasta and Lassen, though views were not common on this hike. We passed a small pond, then continued the steady climb up. After crossing a nice meadow, and Lick Creek, we finally came to Shimmy Lake, and it was small. The kids were disappointed it was smaller than Lake Eleanor. When you can fairly easily throw a rock across to the other shore, you know it's not a big lake.



Log crossing

Shimmy Lake

On the positive side, it had some nice rocks and shade and was perfect for skipping rocks. But in general it was a disappointment.

It took us a little under an hour to descend back to our lunch spot, then we proceeded to have problems staying on the trail. Again, we kept our eyes peeled for the rock stacks and eventually gained our bearings. The GPS definitely helped, as well.

From our lunch spot, it was about an hour back to our car. Along the way we remembered the battery and kept to the right there. We took a short break at Lake Eleanor, then returned to the trailhead.

Lake Eleanor

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