Hike Along Beautiful Trinity Lake
The Trinity Lakeshore Trail won't be found in any guide books, but it's there. Trinity Lake views are outstanding, and the trail is quite easy.
Trinity Lake was formed in 1961 with the construction of Trinity Dam which was designed to help transfer water from the Trinity River basin to the Sacramento River basin. Now Southern California wants to build some huge tunnels in the Sacramento River delta to suck away more water, but I digress. Trinity Lake can hold up to 2.4 million acre-feet of water and have 145 miles of shoreline, and this hike gives a small slice of this huge recreation opportunity.
The best trailhead is at the eastern terminus near the Clark Springs boat ramp. The parking lot can be quite busy if the boat ramp is operational, but will be a ghost town if the ramp is out of commission due to the water level being too low. The trailhead and a too-detailed sign are at the southwestern corner of the parking lot, or directly across from the entrance. The first few hundred yards go through the Clark Springs Campground. Many camping spots lack amenities like a fire ring or table, and I think this is sort of a last resort for people looking for cheap walk in spots. It's also in a relatively dark forest of Douglas fir and madrone that makes sunglasses unnecessary. Most of the hike is in the forest with views of the lake on one side and more forest on the other.
The trail winds with the contour above the lake for about 1.5 mile until it reaches Minersville Campground which is much nicer than Clark Springs. #3 is a particularly glorious site that I've stayed in twice. There are even bathrooms with running water here. The trail had been heading roughly south to this point, but it turns to the west as it contours past another boat ramp. The Minersville boat ramp has always been busy when I've been there because the water has been low and this is one of the few ramps on the lake that reaches this depth.
The old town of Minersville was established during the gold rush here in the 1880s, but has now disappeared beneath Trinity Lake. The Cedar Stock Marina becomes apparent to the northwest, but there's still 2 more miles of winding trail through forests of Douglas fir, madrone, dogwood, alder, ponderosa pine and a few sugar pines. The character of the forest changes throughout its 4 miles. Ponderosa pines form virtual monoculture communities on south facing slopes while alders and dogwood choke the numerous small drainages. Mixed forest with even a little bit of chaparral is everywhere else as the trail contours around the northeastern side of the Stuart Fork arm of the lake. The trail goes through a forest of alder and dougies before climbing gently to the cabin rental operation with a small gift shop (very small) and a bar that serves food.
The trail reaches the resort after passing a few small rental cabins and climbing a few stairs. The sign at the top of the stairs refers to this as the "Marina Trail," but the sign doesn't look very official so I'm going with the too-detailed sign at the Clark Springs boat ramp. Continue to the west away from the bar down the road for about 200 yards until the pavement ends. The trail continues another 3/4 mile to the Fawn group campsite through ponderosa pine. I haven't done this last segment, but I hear it's lovely.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.