Features: Are you interested in putting your feet on-trail in some of the most rugged and remote country in California? A day hike (or an overnighter) to the New River and Virgin Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness could be a great fit for you and your hiking compadres.
Located off of Highway 299 in Northwest California the trail parallels the New River, whose headwaters flow from the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. This mostly level-to-moderate grade trail is great for everyone from beginners to experienced hikers. The trail weaves through lush green forests and very vertical rough country that cradles this massive tributary of the mighty Trinity River.
The New River Trail was originally established as a route for mining settlements that sprang up in the late 1800s including towns like White Rock City, New River City (now called Old Denny) and Election Camp, the site of a ballot location during the 1860 presidential election. Your very windy drive up the Denny Road from Hawkins Bar past “New” Denny also takes you through an incredible, and yet currently unprotected, roadless area that is accented by a few large old homesteads with magnificent pasture and views.
For day hikers the three miles (one way) to the Virgin Creek crossing makes an excellent single day sojourn with plenty of vistas of the New River and the Trinity Alps beyond. For those of stronger fortitude and experience (and seasonal timing to ensure a safe crossing of Virgin Creek), points beyond offer some of the most rugged, but rewarding, backpacking and horse packing experience you will ever experience.
Early to mid-June is a wonderful time to visit this trail which hosts an incredible bounty of wildflowers including massive groves of dogwood and its large white blossoms. If you’re up for a dip, there are a number of opportunities along the route in addition to braving the cool clear waters of Virgin Creek that greet you upon your arrival.
Directions to trailhead:
From I-5: Take highway 299 West 90 miles through Weaverville to Hawkins Bar. Take a right on Denny Road, cross the Trinity River and continue for 17.5 miles past the town of “New” Denny. Go another 2.5 miles to USFS Road 7N15 and take a left (North East) up the hill. Travel approx. 4 miles and take a right towards the New River Trailhead.
From Highway 101: Take Highway 299 East 47 miles through Willow Creek to Hawkins Bar. Take a left on Denny Road, cross the Trinity River and continue for 17.5 miles past the town of “New” Denny. Go another 2.5 miles to USFS Road 7N15 and take a left (North East) up the hill. Travel approx. 4 and take a right towards the New River Trailhead.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.