The Trinity Alps in Northern California is one of the best backpacking destinations I've been to so far. It is remote, uncrowded, and permits can be obtained on the day you arrive. This is in contrast to many of California's more famous backpacking destinations in the Sierras (Tahoe area, Yosemite area, Mammoth area, etc.) which can often be difficult to obtain, requiring reservations many months in advance.
On this 2.5 day trip we wanted to explore Granite Lake and the surrounding area. From Route 3 you take the dirt access road to the Swift Creek trail head. The route is highlighted in yellow below:
We made camp at Granite Lake, a beautiful lake situated at the base of Gibson Peak and the surrounding granite mountainsides. We spent the remainder of the late afternoon just setting up camp, cooking, and swimming in the lake.
On the Day 2 we left camp with our day packs and headed up to Seven Up Pass. There were some beautful wildflowers and nice views of the Gibson peak area.
Once you reach the pass, you can either continue north towards Seven Up Peak or descend straight down into the valley below towards Deer Creek. We decided to head straight down, but not before doing a small scramble south towards Gibson Peak
As you head down towards Deer Creek, you get your first glimpse of some very interesting and unique rock formations in the area: there is a distinct boundary between the granite Siligo Peak on the left and the unnamed (I think) red rock peak on the right. This peak on the right I recommend climbing for some great views.
Once at Deer Creek, start ascending again following the trail for Siligo Peak. On the way you'll pass Luella Lake, with Gibson Peak now in the background.
After gaining the ridge, the trail heads south towards Siligo Peak. Instead I recommend heading north and scrambling up this small peak. See the red X on the map above. From the top you have some excellent views to the northwest of the Sawtooth Range. Even better, from this vantage point you can look east to see Mt Shasta way off in the distance, Luella Lake, and the sharp contrast between granite Gibson Peak and the red rock Seven Up Peak all in one view.
After a bit of exploring the area we headed back down to Deer Creek, up and over Seven Up Pass, and back to camp at Granite Lake. We got back just in time to still have some sunlight for jumping into Granite Lake for a refreshing swim. On Day 3 we woke up early and headed back to Swift Creek and were out of the park by the end of the morning. Ultimately this an excellent, weekend length backpacking trip for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy some excellent hiking.