Thu, Jun 28, 2018
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I was back in the Trinity Alps, the second day of a planned four day visit. Today's goal was Siligo Peak and some unnamed bonus peaks around it, the collection found in the Red Trinities that I haven't visited in a few years. From a study of the maps, I'd gotten the impression that it was a "deep" peak, requiring one to go over the main crest to reach it on the other side. And yet, it seems to be a pretty popular peak, judging by the number of entries on PB. I had assumed the shortest approach was via Swift Creek to the northeast, but then "discovered" that the easier route is from the southeast via the Long Canyon TH. This is a fairly popular trailhead for the Four Lakes Loop, a stunningly beautiful 5mi loop that circumnavigates Siligo Peak. This explained the popularity and I found myself looking forward to exploring this new area. I was not disappointed. Quite plainly, it is the most spectacular area I've been to in the Trinity Alps, easily surpassing the far more popular Canyon Creek Trail.
The trailhead starts at just below 3,000ft, about 3mi from SR3, west of Clair Engle Lake. There were about half a dozen cars in the smallish lot when I arrived around 7:30a. The trail climbs 4,000ft in about 5mi to Bee Tree Gap, a saddle between Gibson Peak and Peak 8,169ft. I'd been to the former some years ago in one of my first visits to the area, the latter would be the last peak on the day's agenda. The first hour of the trail winds its way upcanyon through thick forest without views but the the constant sound of the creek is never far from the trail. After about 3mi, the views begin to open up and the trail passes through some fine meadow areas. These get better and better as one nears the saddle, with some spectacular wildflowers and warm sunshine bringing color to the canyon.
I reached Bee Tree Gap in about 2hrs, beginning to realize why this place is so special. To the west, Peak 8,061ft and Siligo were visible, the latter just barely, peeking above Deer Creek Pass. The trail forks here, one branch dropping down to the south to Siligo Meadows. I followed the other branch that continues west, traversing the south slopes below Gibson Peak to reach Deer Creek Pass in about half a mile. Here, one is treated to a wonderful view of Siligo Peak and below it, Deer Lake, the first of the four lakes for which the loop is named. The trail drops down a few switchbacks on the northwest side of the pass to a junction. I could see folks camping at the lake below, with one branch heading down in that direction. I continued west, following the clockwise direction of the loop trail as it traverses the north side of Peak 8,061ft to a saddle between that peak and Siligo. It was at this saddle that I discovered there was a use trail that climbs the remaining 400ft up to Siligo. So easy!
Someone had placed a small plaque just below the summit in memorial of their dog "Max", but it appears that it has been poorly received judging by the many scratches that have made it difficult to read. The summit is comprised of broken rock forming a small highpoint, with spectacular views in all directions. The Salt Creek, Deep Creek and Deer Creek drainages surround Siligo, all of them eventually draining to the south into Stuart Creek. The Stuart Creek drainage is immense, with its headwaters off the slopes of Caesar Peak and Sawtooth Mtn in the White Trinities. These peaks are seen to great effect to the west across the deep canyon formed by Stuart Creek. There are many, many other peaks in the Trinities visible as well, and on such a clear day even Mt. Shasta could be seen sharply 50mi to the northeast.
I spent the next 30min traversing northwest across Siligo on my way to the first bonus, Peak 7,864ft. The upper reaches of Siligo in this direction are sharp and rugged, a fun little bit of class 3 scrambling that eventually gets easier as one nears the saddle with Peak 7,864ft. The loop trail goes over this saddle as well, and I found several parties making their way along it as I crossed over to start my climb up to Peak 7,864ft. This is a fairly easy cross-country climb though there is no use trail, the terrain vegetated with low plants and grasses, and just a scattering of trees. This was the lowest of the four summits but offered the best view to the west into the impressive canyon of the Stuart Fork. Luella Lake can be seen to the east below in the small basin between this peak and Siligo Peak.
After a brief summit visit I returned to the saddle and picked up the loop trail heading counter-clockwise, dropping about 300ft where it passes by Diamond Lake. There were two adjacent, identical tents pitched near the lake. Their owners had passed me going the other direction about ten minutes before I reached the lake. The lake is perched at the edge of a steep slope that forms the headwaters of Salt Creek, joining Stuart Creek thousands of feet lower. It has the look of an infinity pool with the western edge poised over the immense canyon. The trail then climbs back up to a saddle on the southwest side of Siligo, the ridge separating the two basins that hold Diamond lake to the west and Summit Lake to the east. Just before reaching the start of the use trail I had taken up to Siligo, I turned right at a junction where a spur trail drops to Summit Lake. I followed this only a short distance before heading off cross-country for Peak 8,061ft, perched between Summit Lake and Deer Creek Pass. A straightforward class 2 scramble leads to the summit rocks where there are two points vying for the highpoint. I visited both, but the southern one appears slightly higher.
At this point I had planned to head back to Deer Creek Pass and return down the trail whence I'd come. The fourth summit, Peak 8,169ft, had looked to be out of the way and I expected I'd be too tired to add it to the agenda. Sitting atop Peak 8,061ft and looking east across Siligo Meadows, Peak 8,169ft looks pretty impressive. I then spotted a trail going up from Siligo Meadows to a saddle on the west side of Peak 8,169ft and thought that would make it easier if I could use the trail to climb half the distance to the summit. Later I found this is called Little Stonewall Pass. With this extra incentive, I decided to pay this last summit a visit and I was very glad I did. Oddly, it has the same elevation and prominence as Siligo Peak, and almost as picturesque, too. I dropped southeast off Peak 8,061ft through talus and mild brush slopes, picked up the trail in the meadows below and followed it up to Little Stonewall Pass. Though the scrambling above that point looked like it could be difficult from a distance, it turned out to be class 2-3, (very little, if any, class 3 really). The summit offered a very nice surprise with two additional lakes I hadn't expected found on the east side, Lake Anna to the northeast and the smaller Billy Be Damn Lake to the southeast. Both are perched above slopes dropping to the east and look to make fine camping spots or neat places to visit for a day trip. Closer inspection showed a number of use trail and a party of three camped at the west end of Lake Anna. Peak 8,169ft's East Ridge drops down to a low saddle between the two lakes, and after more time spent enjoying the views from the top, I dropped down this way to pick up one of the use trails leading around Lake Anna. Another use trail then drops down from the north side of Lake Anna to the Long Canyon trail, about 400ft in 1/3mi heading NNE. It ended up making a neat little loop that was more than an hour faster than I had expected to take when I'd figured I'd have to return to Bee Tree Gap. Once back to the maintained trail, it was about an hour and a half of downhill to return to the trailhead, finishing this most delightful circuit before 5p. There are many, many scenic places in the Trinity Alps, but so far, I've found this one to be easily the best.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Siligo Peak
This page last updated: Tue Jul 3 21:31:16 2018
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