The Caribou Wilderness hiking trails to Triangle Lake, Twin Lakes, and Turnaround Lakes offer backpackers and day hikers both natural beauty and solitude. This article has a full trail description, detailed directions to the trailhead, and a topographic trail map.
2021 Dixie Fire Update for Caribou Wilderness Trails
Much of the Caribou Wilderness has burned in the 2021 Dixie Fire. Most or all of the hiking trails will be closed until at least the summer of 2022.
Triangle, Twin, and Turnaround Lakes Hiking Trails Key Data
Length: 7.8 miles round trip
Hiking time: 5 hours or 2 days for backpacking
High point: 7,100 feet
Total elevation gain: 600 feet
Season: mid-June through October; many mosquitoes in summer
Water: available from lakes; purify first
Map: USGS 7.5′ Bogard Buttes
Triangle Lake/Cone Lake Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 40 33.063 W 121 12.264
Wilderness Permit: none required
Nearest campgrounds: Silver Bowl Campground, Rocky Knoll Campground
Notes: dogs allowed
Information: Almanor Ranger District, Lassen National Forest
Notes: Campfire permit required for all backpackers
Driving Directions to the Triangle Lake/Caribou Wilderness Trailhead
To find the Triangle Lake trailhead, take Forest Road 10 from CA Highway 44’s west side. This point is 18 miles southeast of the junctions of CA Highways 89 and 44 near Old Station, 34 miles northwest of Susanville, 4.7 miles northwest of the junction with Road A21, and 150 yards south of a highway rest stop. Follow Road 10 west through Lassen National Forest for 5.8 miles, then go right onto Road 32N09 for the last 2.8 miles.
Hiking the Trail: Triangle Lake, Twin Lakes, Turnaround Lake
The trail begins by Cone Lake, which usually dries up by midsummer. Sign in at the trail register, then walk past a grove of aspen. The path passes through an open Jeffrey pine forest as it climbs ever so gently past an understory of pinemat manzanita, squaw carpet, coyote mint, rabbitbrush goldenweed, and lupines and other flowers.
Reach a double-trunked Jeffrey pine at 0.2 mile, then notice how the tree diversity increases to include red fir and lodgepole pine. By the time you reach a pond at 1.7 miles, the Jeffreys have mostly disappeared, leaving the lodgepoles to dominate the rest of the hike.
Triangle Lake, Caribou Wilderness
Large and luscious Triangle Lake lies just beyond the pond. Swim the waters from the northern shores and enjoy views of Red Cinder to the southwest and Black Butte to the north from the east shore. A 1.2-mile circumnavigating trail heads west from the north shore, initially passing a good campsite, and then leads to other campsites equally attractive to backpackers on the west shore before rejoining the main trail at Twin Lakes. A trail heading west to Lassen Volcanic National Park begins near the lake’s northwest corner.
Twin Lakes, Caribou Wilderness
Farther south along the main trail, the Twin Lakes appear at 2.5 miles. Though not as spectacular as the lake you left or Turnaround Lake to come, the Twin Lakes have level places to camp and offer solitude if the more popular lakes are too crowded.
Turnaround Lake, Caribou Wilderness
Lodgepole-pine-bordered Turnaround Lake appears at 3.2 miles. Flanked by 200-foot-high ridges on the east and west, it boasts deep waters, a trail around its circumference, and campsites near the north and east sides. Following the path around the lake’s east edge brings you to a trail fork and the other paths of Caribou Wilderness at 3.9 miles. From here you can continue on to Black Lake and many others.
Other Caribou Wilderness Hiking/Backpacking Trails…
Are covered in my book Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions. The book contains:
Hike 123: BEAUTY, POSEY, AND LONG LAKES LOOP
Hike 124: EMERALD, RIM, AND CYPRESS LAKES
Hike 125: GEM, BLACK, AND COWBOY LAKES LOOP
Best Day Hiking Trails in Upper California
- Mount Shasta and nearby
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Trinity Alps and Marble Mountains
- Redding area
- Whiskeytown and Shasta Lakes
Includes trailhead directions and detailed maps and trail descriptions
Your Take: Triangle, Twin, Turnaround Lakes
Share your comments and observations below…
Camp for Free in California National Forests
California’s national forests and BLM lands have thousands of miles of dirt roads with lots of spots for dispersed camping (boondocking). My book provides all the info you need to get started (but is not a guide to specific sites):
- Researching the best locations
- Finding the best camping spots
- Backcountry safety and ethics
- What to take