Hike through forests and meadows to two lakes nestled in alpine scenery.
From the trailhead, follow an old road to the Trinity Alps Wilderness boundary at Cherry Flat. Climb gradually along the Stuart Fork of the Trinity River.
After four miles, the trail crosses Deep Creek over a bridge and then crosses Oak Flat.
At five miles, pass the turnoff for the Alpine Lake Trail
, choosing instead to continue straight. The trail continues to climb gently, crossing Deer Creek over a bridge at around seven miles. Pass the junction with the Deer Creek Trail
at eight miles and reach Morris Meadow at nine miles.
Morris Meadow has awesome wildflower displays all summer and plenty of campsites.
Beyond the meadow, the trail turns west into more mountainous territory. At 12 miles, you'll reach Portuguese Camp, the last good spot to camp before the lakes.
The trail becomes steep and open as it climbs to the west toward Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is actually man-made, created for mining operations a century ago. There's still a lot of old mining equipment lying around, and this is a good place to take in the relics of the area's mining history.
Follow the cairns around Emerald Lake's north shore and then climb 600 feet to Sapphire Lake. At the deep, clear lake, enjoy the views of Thompson Peak and the Sawtooth Ridge.
Return the way you came.
Look for Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, incense cedar, bigleaf maple, and Pacific dogwood in the lower elevations.
Rattlesnakes and black bears are common along this trail.