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Trinity County

Hike to peaks and waterfalls, paddle rivers and lakes, and delve into little-known California history in this outdoorsy paradise

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Four hours north of San Francisco and comfortably west of Interstate 5, Trinity County is an untouched-by-the-rush hideaway. Larger than the state of Delaware, the county has only 13,700 residents and no incorporated cities. In lieu of crowds or traffic jams, you'll find the vastly beautiful Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, the Wild and Scenic Trinity River, and all the outdoor recreation opportunities you could ask for.

Explore Weaverville's Historic District

The county's biggest town is Weaverville, a 40-mile drive from Redding on winding Highway 299. Dotted with honey locust trees that were planted by 19th-century emigrants, Weaverville's Main Street looks much like it did in Gold Rush days. A few well-preserved 1850s structures still wear their exterior spiral staircases, which were built to accommodate two sets of families living on separate floors.

Weaverville's most striking building is the 1874 Joss House, a Chinese Taoist temple that's now a State Historic Park. The gabled temple was built by Chinese miners who hoped to strike it rich in the Trinity River gold rush ("Joss" meant "God" in pidgin Chinese-English). Take a guided tour to see its 3,000-year-old altar, statues of male and female deities, oracle fortune sticks, opium pipes, and other religious artifacts.

Also stop in to the neighboring Jake Jackson Memorial Museum, which holds a complete blacksmith shop and wrought-iron weapons used in the 1854 Tong War, a brief and tragic battle between two Chinese tongs (tribes).

Roam Through the Trinity Alps

North of Weaverville via scenic Highway 3, Coffee Creek is the small-town gateway to the ruggedly photogenic Trinity Alps Wilderness, California's second largest wilderness area. Think of the Trinity Alps as the Sierra Nevada's identical twin, but more compact, with glacially carved peaks, azure alpine lakes, and more than 600 miles of trails. Ripple Creek Cabins or Coffee Creek Ranch—an all-inclusive dude ranch with plenty of onsite activities—make cozy base camps for hiking or fishing vacations.

You can also access the Trinity Alps from the south near Junction City. Book a riverside cabin at Strawhouse Resorts, where you can sip a morning cappuccino made from beans roasted on site, then hike the Canyon Creek Trail to the granite wonderland of Canyon Creek Falls.

Paddle or Pedal

The county offers water-based fun in every flavor. A quarter-mile from Strawhouse Resorts, Trinity River Rafting and Bigfoot Rafting run half- and full-day guided whitewater trips on the Trinity River. North of Weaverville, serene Lewiston Lake is popular with kayakers, canoers, and birders looking to add "bald eagle" to their life lists. Neighboring Trinity Lake has four marinas with powerboat and waterski rentals. If you'd rather bike than boat, ride the easy Lakeshore Trail on Trinity Lake's western shoreline, or try out the 50 miles of single-track in the Weaverville Basin Trail System.

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