A free day between dog-sits and a backpack with my hiking buddy Cathy ... I think I’ll go check out Poison Canyon again.

We tried it May 23rd but found a gate on the trailhead road locked. Inquiring officially, the very nice woman didn’t know why, but assured us “If it’s closed, there’s a reason.”

Our faith in officialdom thus renewed, we hiked a different Trinity Alps Wilderness trail. It was grand.

But this June day I wondered again the status of Poison Canyon. I drove there.

The trailhead is 8 miles from Trinity Center off Highway 3. This time, the gate was open. I’m sure for good reason.

The road beyond includes some big but passable rocks, ruts that might make a low-slung passenger car nervous, and unavoidable over-leaning brush. But the paint of my old truck is already much scratched. Onward.

After a while, clearly I’d missed the trailhead. Backtracking, I discovered the sign under overgrowing buck brush. I parked. Onward.

As Alps trails go, this one is relatively kind. It is only three miles to Lilypad Lake, and unlike the more typical STEEP climbs, this one is STEEP, though with welcome level respites.

The shaded trail is overgrown, but with veg soft and friendly. Ferns, and so many flowers. (I’m not a flower guy, but let me describe them: red, yellow, purple, pink, white, lovely.) And so much brilliant green! Many trees down, but you can get around. Views of awesome Ycatapom Peak.

It feels like no one has been here in a long time. Except a bear, left recent piles of black poo.

Past a giant remarkably arm’d cedar, a marked trail diverges to the Parker Creek Divide high above, then dropping to Boulder Lake. But I continue toward Lilypad.

Immediately post-crossing North Fork Swift Creek, an unmarked but distinct trail heads perpendicular-left to the loop around Thumb Rock, passing the ponds of hanging valleys. We did this route years back. The loop is long for a day-hike, about 14 miles total, and we were concerned as it was poorly marked on the back side, but it’s one of our favorites.

Beyond that, my trail disappears in a meadow. All I can spot is the discolor of recently bent grass. The bear?

I follow bear’s trail to the lake.

Yes, lily pads cover it mostly. Above, granite cliffs, and Thumb Rock. A nice breeze, long pants and sleeves, and a spritz of DEET suppress the skeeters I’ve encountered here before. For those who fish: fish!

The downhill return takes only two-thirds the time, songbirds accompany.

Back at the trailhead: hedge shears from my truck, I trim, lots, around the USFS sign, so others don’t miss it.

For good reason.

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