Summit Lake Trail

Tahoe National Forest, California

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Summit Lake Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Nevada County, California. It is within Tahoe National Forest. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 7,437 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 434 feet. Along the trail there is a meadow.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Summit Lake Trail is a hiking and biking trail in Nevada County, California. It is within Tahoe National Forest. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 7,437 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 434 feet. Along the trail there is a meadow. This trail connects with the following: Donner Lake Rim Trail, Warren Lake Trail and Pacific Crest Trail (TRT).
Activity Type: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Tahoe National Forest
Distance: 1.3
Elevation Gain: 434 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 7,437 feet
Top Elevation: 7,452 feet
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Parks: Tahoe National Forest
Elevation Min/Max: 7230/7452 ft
Elevation Start/End: 7437/7438 ft

Summit Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"A buddy of mine, a dog lover and travel writer, asked if I was going to include Summit Lake in this guidebook. I hadn’t thought about it, since I really don’t often get to this part of the state on my jaunts with the dogs. “Oh, you have to include Summit Lake,” he said. “I don’t know of any dog from San Francisco or Sacramento that hasn’t used this trail.” So I did a little research, and found that the trail is canine-approved by www.dogfriendly.com, a website that provides city and travel guides for people and their pets. Next thing was to take a trip out I-80 to Donner Summit and the Summit Lake Trail. OK, it’s not much of a trail for some people, but it is a scenic trip that can be done—out-and-back—in just a couple of hours. And even in late fall, when the weather was crisp and there was the threat of snow in the air, carloads of people were streaming off I-80 to stretch their legs and let their dogs stretch too."

"A buddy of mine, a dog lover and travel writer, asked if I was going to include Summit Lake in this guidebook. I hadn’t thought about it, since I really don’t often get to this part of the state on my jaunts with the dogs."

"Summit Lake sits at 7,400 feet and is surrounded by forest. The trail to the lake follows a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way, the trail curves through a meadow, climbs a glaciated granite ridge, crosses streams, and passes through tunnels under Interstate 80."

"Two scenic lakes and a spectacular vista point are the principal attractions of this hike, which is within the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness. The hike to Summit Lake is an easy 2-mile stroll, whereas the trip to Warren Lake is another story—over the course of 7.5 miles you gain and lose nearly 4500 feet of elevation. In between, Frog Lake Overlook provides a grand vista of the Donner Pass region. With three such worthwhile goals, you can tailor your trip to fit your individual needs and schedule."

Summit Lake Trail Reviews

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8/16/2015
Really great hike for kids. Very mild, walking through tunnels under the freeway, going through meadows, passing a pond, and two miles later the lake. Kids had fun skipping rocks and chasing dragonflies. A great day.
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1/16/2012
Although I don't think we followed the trail, we summited in 2.5 miles by taking the donner rim trail to the far east side. We then took the ridge and made a direct ascent up the peak. It worked because there was very little snow on the peak, but it was 600 feet of peak gain in 1/2 mile. The views were wonderful. I would like to try this again when snow didn't cover up all the different trails on the floor.
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6/4/2007
We did a backpacking trip with my two boys, age 4 and 8. The hike was short which is perfect for young children. We found a nice camp site at the lake. No one was there on Labor Day Weekend. There is a 4 wheel drive trail so there was a few cars in and out on Sunday morning. I would typically consider this a big negative but the cars only have access to a small part of lake shore. We didn't see any fish and had no luck fishing.
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8/12/2006
We did this hike on a beautiful summer day. The views are awsome as you get higher. Some members wanted to stop but we kept pushing them and they were happy they went all the way up. It is rated five but half of our group does not do any regular excercies and they made it just fine, although they had to take many breaks. Nice way to spend a few hours.
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8/10/2006
Wow! Strenuous climb up steep rocky switchbacks past amazing volcanic rock formations to 360-degree view from Castle Peak (easy rock scramble to the top). But don't stop there! Walk northwest one-plus-mile along the ridgetop to Basin Peak with more astounding views. Sharp drop into a bowl on your right boasts hoodoo-like rock formations and glimpses of Warren Lake far below. Continue up Basin Peak for views far too the north--although too hazy to see Mount Lassen the day we hiked, we were far from disappointed. Take one of many use trails heading NW until you encounter a faint jeep track, which becomes a single-width trail as it loops back around to the south through meadows of brilliant wildflowers and comes in to the Pacific Crest Trail a little north of the Peter Grubb Hut. Total 9-mile partial loop (if you park on the north side of I-80 and start up the rough dirt road--probably 12 miles if you park in the PCT lot south of I-80) is strenuous because of the steep ups and downs.
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Jun 2018