Long Canyon is a great multi-day backpack. We had 3 1/2 days so we chose to start at Trout Creek Trail Head with a side trip up to Parker Ridge to Long Lake before heading back down to Long Canyon (TR 13-TR 221-TR 7-TR 16).
Day 1: We dropped a car at the Long Canyon TH and drove up to Trout Creek TH. We got started about 11 am and you could tell it was much cooler up here. The trail was in great shape and the climb was continuous yet easy going. You were literally in a forest of huckleberries, though past their prime a few good berries still hung on. We quickly gained 1500′ in two miles to Pyramid Pass.
It was a steep trail down to the junction of Parker Ridge before going up a steep loose trail and breaking out to clear views of the surrounding peaks. We would take the trail to Long Mountain Lake for the night. Another steep trail 1/2 mile down and we were done for the night. This was the largest campsite with lots of flat ground to lay the tent. The Milky Way was very clear and defined in the dark night sky. It reminds me how much light pollution we get living in the city.
Day 2: Long Mountain Lake lays at 6706′ in a shady patch that only gets a few hours a sunlight each morning. It was a bit of a cold night and we woke up to frost on the tent. We tried some fishing in the morning before we left and was surprised to catch a grayling! I have caught grayling a few time in Alaska and the are a fierce fighting fish with a clean taste. They only live in clean, clear, cold water and I was told it was a stocked lake. Use a #0 spinner because their small mouth will not allow for anything much bigger.
We would backtrack 1 1/4 mile back to the junction, but not before we did the short hike up to Long Mountain at 7265′. Great 360 degree views.
From the junction the trail down to Long Canyon seemed to take forever. Constant switch backs that bring you down some 1900′ in 4 1/2 miles took its toll on my knees. We came to our first creek crossing jumping across the slick boulders. There was no longer a campground here so we continued another 1/2 mile to Smith Creek to find a large camp site tucked in the trees.
Day 3: Just 12.5 more miles to go we started on our way down the relativly flat trail. There was a great looking camp site at 10 miles out that was basking in the early morning sun. At 9 miles out was the second river crossing. The rocks were once again slick, but a nice tree made for an easier crossing.
We would camp at the final river crossing at 3800′ giving us a 7 mile hike out for the next day. There are camp sights on both sides of the river. Tried out fishing once again and caught lots of small brook trout. A small #0 or #1 spinner worked out well. It seemed to work best to cast up stream or across stream in any deep pool.
Talked to two groups of bikers that stopped by. Learned from the first group that this would become a Wilderness area starting in 2015, which means no motorized or mechanized allowed. Kind of a bummer as I would have loved to come back and biked this epic trail. The second group seemed not so up to the task of such an epic bike. Sure hope they made it out before dark as they still had a fair ways to go and only 2 hrs before the sun would set.
Day 4: There isn’t much for water stops so be sure to have all the water you need until you get out. The log jam made for an easy crossing and the trail would be a bit of up and down for the first 3 miles. The trail will bring you back up to 3100′ with a good view of the valley floor before starting down the steepest section. The trail cuts north after a mile and more switch backs through the forest canopy and before you know it you are out.