Stuarts Fork of the Trinity (Lower)
|Stretch:||Trailhead to Trinity Alps Resort or further|
|Difficulty:||Class II+ (maybe III- if it has more water?)|
|Distance:||2.6 to 4.0 miles|
|Flows:||~200 to ?000 cfs|
|Put-in:||Stuarts Fork trailhead|
|Take-out:||Trinity Alps Resort or Stuarts Fork Boat Launch|
|Shuttle:||2-5 miles driving|
|Season:||Spring from snowmelt|
Ever since I was a kid my family has been going out to Trinity Lake (also called Claire Engle Reservoir) for vacations. On the days that I wasn't a complete pain in the butt my mom and dad would take me up the Stuarts Fork to the Trinity Alps Resort and get me some ice cream. It was with this in mind that I thought it would be fun to float the easy stretch of water down from the trailhead to the Resort. Its only too bad it was March and freezing cold as 1) the resort was closed and 2) ice cream did not sound appealing.
I would say we had bare minimum flow for this run. There is no gauge. The river was shallow, but looked worse than it ended up being. We opted to take-out at the resort instead of floating down the rest of the way to the lake and boat ramp due to the low water. After the resort the river spreads out and lack of water would have been brutal. If you have good water this would be a good way to extend the day. As it was, after doing Stuarts Fork we drove around the lake and ran the Upper Trinity as well that day and I was still back in Weaverville by 4.
One more thing, Apparently there is a class III-IV run upriver of the trailhead. You can hike the 3 miles up to Deep Crack and boat down from there. I would have liked to do this but didn't have a taker to go with me. Also, some have gone even higher than that but I don't know of how good it was.
One final thing, so I am rating this II+, but I have only done it at low water. It was a continuous river and thus swims would be long and hard for boat retrieval. It is a very pretty canyon with views of the alps and worth doing if in the area, but certainly I wouldn't drive from Sacramento for this run. There are better options on the Trinity for a class II-III day.
- Bridge Camp (IV). If this is not your cup of tea, just put in below it, it is actually easier to put in below than to carry up to run it.
- The rapids get noticeably more challenging, are more II+. It also becomes bed rock. On a left turn is the hardest rapid on the run.
Big One (III-). Several holes in the middle ending with a bedrock hole. At low flows it was good to run down the left. I wouldn't doubt the bottom hole would get meaty on the left at higher flows.
Take-out: From Weaverville travel ~15 miles on highway 3 to Lake Trinity. Just after you see the lake you will cross over the Stuarts Fork. Turn up Trinity Alps Road and drive 2 miles or so to the resort entrance. Park on the side of the road. If you want to paddle to the lake, the Stuarts Fork Boat ramp is just on the other side of the bridge you crossed before turning on Trinity Alps Road.
Put-in: continue driving through the resort. It is about 2 miles on a dirt road to the trailhead and park. This is also where you would hike up the trail if you want to go higher.
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