Backpacking to Warren Lake (2 Days)

Lake Tahoe Pacific Crest Trail (Donner Summit)

  • Activities:

    Camping, Backpacking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

Dog Friendly

14 mile roundtrip, overnight backpacking trip. Spend the night next to picturesque Warren Lake. Duration: 2 Days.

The first 1.6 miles along the Pacifc Crest Trail is the same route to Summit Lake Trail. When you see the fork for Warren Lake and Summit Lake, head to the left. Although the Summit Lake trail looks easier, which it is, don't let that detour you. Start climbing up the 1,500ft incline then drop back down 1,500ft. The good news about grinding it out on the climb is that it usually keeps the crowds away. The trail climbs through the forest until you've reached 3 miles, where you get to a saddle that offers up a great view of where you're headed. The next 3.5 miles are down hill into a wide valley with an abundance of wildflowers. There is one final climb up to a ridge, which leads to a 1,000ft descent into to Warren Lake, where there are plenty of campsites. Pick your spot and start setting up camp! The return route the next day is the same way you came.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Snacks
  • Food for 2 days
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • Trekking poles (optional)
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Overall rating: 

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We went this last weekend on July 1st/2nd and couldn't make it past Frog Lake Cliff, which is only about 3 miles in. There was so much snow/ice pack you couldn't see the trail, and in some areas where the snow had melted around trees you could see that it was at least 10 feet deep in places. Bushwhacking through snow/ice made travel, stream crossings, and the like very slow going and honestly kind of dangerous since we didn't have crampons or snow shoes (didn't think we'd need that in July). It took an enormous amount of time to navigate. We saw a number of people on the way who had given up on even reaching Frog Lake Cliff. Tahoe got a huge amount of snow the winter of 2016/2017, so this may be an off year. I have no idea how PCT thru-hikers are going to handle this stuff. I will say though, it was very, very beautiful. We found a really amazing spot just across the stream that had an incredible view overlooking the valley, and nobody was around. A couple things I would note here, remember to get a fire permit if you're going to be using any kind of gas stove. Another thing, follow the signs for the PCT trailhead off the freeway. You'll park, hike a bit, then get to a couple tunnels that take you under the freeway to the fork between Donner Lake Rim Trail, Summit Lake, and Warren Lake. Summit Lake is not even worth it if you want to camp in my opinion. You can see/hear the freeway from it. There are people who drive in and bring inflatable paddle boards. If that's your thing, do it up. I would suspect the kinds of people considering Warren Lake wouldn't consider Summit Lake.

3 months ago
3 months ago

The Outbound CollectiveAdmin

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