Middle Peak in alpenglow
Cursed by a bland name, obscure location, and a neighborhood full of more visible and easily climbed peaks, Middle Peak in the Trinity Alps has long been an anonymous mountain amongst a large cluster of peaks. Most people see Middle Peak while climbing Granite Peak
or Red Mountain
. From either of these angles it appears to be unassuming and insignificant. Only from the top of Red Mountain
does Middle Peak begin to reveal its spectacular nature. To really appreciate Middle Peak one most enter into the Echo Lake basin. From inside the glacial cirque containing Echo Lake, Middle Peak appears as a spectacular alpine summit, rising dramatically above the lake.
Echo Lake is one of the nearly forgotten corners of the Trinity Alps. Its proximity to the Four Lakes Loop ought to lead more people to its shores. Nonetheless, Echo Lake and Middle Peak remain virtually unknown. The lake is about three acres in size. Its shore is rocky in places punctuated by pleasant grassy areas. The east side of the lake has fantastic wildflowers during the appropriate season. A small creek flows north off the face of Middle Peak, feeding Echo Lake while the outlet cascades down a cliff to feed Van Matre Meadows. The outlet perfectly frames granite core of the Trinity Alps and the sunsets from this location are amongst the most spectacular in the range. Above all of this, Middle Peak remains a brooding presence. Two twin summits adjacent to Middle Peak also rise above Echo Lake.
The granite core of the Trinity Alps from Echo Lake
The easiest way to climb Middle Peak is to hike to Red Mountain Meadow
on the Stoney Ridge Trail. Upon arriving at the meadow, veer east off the trail and climb the saddle
coming off the north slope of Granite Peak
. Once reaching the saddle one simply has to hike south to the summit of Middle Peak.
The Stoney Ridge trail continues a short distance beyond Red Mountain Meadow to Stonewall Pass. From this point the route descends into Van Matre Meadow. The trail skirts the bottom of cliffs above which lies Echo Lake. While it is possible to scramble up to the lake, it is much more scenic if one continues up the trail, climbing Little Stonewall pass. Excellent views of Red Mountain
occur along the higher sections of the trail. Just before the top of the pass veer south to Echo Lake. From here it is possible to climb up a ravine between the twin "Echo Peaks" and Middle Peak to the ridge and traverse to the peak. Billy-Be-Damned Lake can also be reached from the top of the ridge. It is also possible to reach Echo Lake by hiking up the Long Canyon trail to Bee Tree Pass and then hiking across Siligo Meadow to Little Stonewall Pass and then descending down to Echo Lake.
Middle Peak from Red Mountain
Middle Peak is one of numerous summits in the Trinity Alps range of the Klamath Mountains. The Trinity Alps themselves can be divided into three distinct regions. In the west are the vast Green Trinities. This area is composed of steep canyons, roaring rivers, sharp ridgelines, and utter solitude. The "green" appellation is derived from the vast stands of virgin timber found in this area. The White Trinities, the granite core of the range is where the associate with the Alps is derived. This area occupies the center of the Trinity Alps. East of the granite heart of the range, rising above Trinity Lake, are the Red Trinities. The name comes from the color of the serpentine that composes most of the mountains in this section. Numerous excellent peaks over 8,000 feet as well as an enviable number of lake basins are found in the Red Trinities. While the Red Trinities are generally characterized by red serpentine and peridotite, there are numerous granite intrusions. Among the most notable are Siligo, Gibson and Granite Peaks. Sandstone also occurs in isolated areas in the Red Trinities. The Echo Lake basin and the "Echo" Peaks adjacent to Middle Peak are excellent examples of this.
From Weaverville drive north on Highway 3 to the signed turnoff for the Stoney Ridge trailhead. The turnoff is shortly after the Stuart Fork bridge. Follow the dirt road six miles to the trailhead.
Middle Peak and Echo Lake
Middle Peak is located in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Normal wilderness rules and ethics apply. A campfire permit is required by the forest service.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Weaverville Ranger Station
P.O. Box 1190
360 Main Street
Weaverville, CA 96093
"Echo Peaks" adjacent to Middle Peak and Echo Lake
The USFS operated Stoney Point campground is a short distance down Highway 3 from the turnoff to the trailhead. The campground is adjacent to Trinity Lake. The Tannery Gulch campground is located a little further away but has excellent views of Red Mountain and Granite Peak from across Trinity Lake. Camping is allowed at the trailhead but there is no water or facilities. Red Mountain Meadows provides a great place for a base camp from which to climb Red Mountain, Granite Peak and Middle Peak. Water is available there most of the year from a few pools in the meadow and from seasonal creeks. Van Matre Meadows also makes a great basecamp, but one has the added climb back up to Stonewall Pass before climbing the peaks. Van Matre and Siligo Meadows also offer numerous excellent campsites.
The best place to camp and view Middle Peak is in the Echo Lake basin. Climbing the peak is not as easy from this point but it can be accomplished by climbing the talus slope to the ridge and then traversing to the summit.