The Stoney Ridge Trail is one of the shorter options to get to the crest of the Red Trinities. You will pay for it, however, as it is a relatively steep 4.5 miles to get to Stonewall Pass. Like many of the other passes in the Red Trinities, you'll be treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains including the dramatic White Trinities that spring up on the western side of Stuart's Fork. And like many other trails in the vast Trinity Alps Wilderness, you can keep on adding destinations to your heart's content. Once such destination is Echo Lake, which is located another 1.5 miles past Stonewall Pass.
This hike begins in a thinned forest that only thickens enough to provide consistent shade for the second mile of the trip. One water source can be found during this stretch in the summer. Stoney Ridge becomes more exposed, and the next 1.5 miles will have you traversing two dozen switchbacks while resting at the occasional stand of trees. Red Mountain Meadow provides a water source and pleasant scenery to help you with the final push up to Stonewall Pass.
Seekers of rare and endemic plants may be in luck as the Stonewall Pass area, along with other select environments in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, is home to a rare serpentine alpine plant community. These areas are generally free of trees and feature patches of ultra-hardy low-growing plants. Because these serpentine areas are spotty and the conditions are so harsh, the plants here are very specialized.
To reach Echo Lake, continue north past Stonewall Pass. The trail will sag about 600 feet in elevation toward Van Matre Meadows and recover that elevation as you approach Little Stonewall Pass. Just as you're approaching that pass, look southeast and you'll see an access point to the glacial cirque that contains Echo Lake. Spend some time here around sunset or sunrise and you'll be rewarded with a real treat.