The Trinity Divide is the tallest range in California’s vast Klamath Mountains. It lies just west of mighty Mount Shasta, forming the eastern breastwork of the Klamaths. It is a range of contrasts, boasting massive granite spires and barren wastes where little vegetation manages to eek out an existence, to gorgeous alpine lakes in deep glacial cirques. The Divide is a range of contrasts in more than just the diversity of its landscapes. Just as the Trinity Divide separates the headwaters of the Trinity and Sacramento Rivers, the range itself is separated into the known and unknown. While it is often viewed from I-5 as the freeway courses along the feet of the range, there are whole sections of the Divide that are so forsaken in the public mind that fewer than a dozen visitors a year, if any at all, might venture into the area. For those who make the effort to explore the Trinity Divide, they will discover a beautiful mountain range that offers year-round recreation; from hiking and backpacking on excellent trails to rock climbing on epic granite walls to excellent skiing. In addition to the expansive recreational activities the Trinity Divide boasts ease of access, opportunities for solitude, spectacular scenery and the chance to observe the continually changing appearance of Mount Shasta.
The Trinity Divide is so named because it constitutes the divide between the headwaters of the Sacramento and Trinity Rivers. These rivers rise high in the mountains, beginning their journey to the sea at numerous lakes and meadows strewn about the range. The range contains 40 named lakes, several unnamed smaller lakes and dozens of creeks and streams. While it lacks the granite splendor of the nearby ranges like the Trinity Alps, the Trinity Divide has an alpine nobility of its own. From the many spires and domes of the Castle Crags to the forsaken glory of the Grey Rocks to the alpine beauty of Mount Eddy, the Trinity Divide measures up favorably with other more well known mountain regions. While the range is overshadowed by Mount Shasta, it may be that this is not a bad thing, since it leaves a fabulous mountain playground far less traveled for those willing to root out its excellent qualities.
It is ironic that Trinity Divide, the most heavily used range in the Klamath Mountains, is also the most anonymous and contains some of northern California’s most spectacular forgotten mountains. Those familiar with the Klamaths are readily able to point to the Trinity Alps, the Marble Mountains, the Siskiyous and it is not uncommon for someone to have heard of the Russians or the Yolla Bollys. Ask someone about the Trinity Divide, and one is most likely to meet an unknowing shrug. The reasons for this are manifold. Chief among them are the overwhelming presence of Mount Shasta. Many grand mountains would fade to minor significance in the face of the lonely mountain. When people do take their eyes off of Mount Shasta and take notice of the Trinity Divide, it is usually to observe the fantastic Castle Crags or towering Mount Eddy, the Divide’s highest point. These formations, while well know seem disparate and unconnected. There is little information explaining the range as a cohesive whole. Moreover, from afar, the rest of the range appears to be a forested set of ridges. Fortunately, this conceals the true nature of the Trinity Divide.
Blue points indicate hikes on established trails.
Red points indicate hikes that are predominantly cross-country.
Trinity Divide Trail Map