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Backpacking Forestdale Divide to Blue Lakes Road | High Sierra Backpacker

Backpacking Forestdale Divide across The Nipple to Blue Lakes Road on the Pacific Crest Trail


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 24 September 2010

Backpacking Forestdale Divide to the Blue Lakes Road

Trail Guide Page: Hiking Forestdale Divide to Blue Lakes Road

If you have Comments, Questions, or Experiences about this section or segment of the Pacific Crest Trail Post your comments and questions below through the comments link at the bottom of this page, or Register to post your own stand alone pages in this Forum about your experiences in this section of the Sierra Nevada.

The Key
Hiking South off of Forestdale Divide the trail becomes a little faint. The reason is the trail and the Forestdale Road were both rerouted, and folks are still driving around on and near the location of the old road. This obscures the trail a bit.

The old trail route looped more East of South than the current route, which took the old route over to the Lost Lakes. The new route passes about a half-mile West of the Lost Lakes, and crosses the spur road off the Forestdale Road that connects it with Lost Lakes.

This map shows the new trail route that I have marked in, but still shows the old road out to Lost Lakes that has been blocked off.

Carson Pass to Blue Lakes

The road no longer loops out to Lost Lakes. The North leg out to the Lakes has been obscured and closed. The road now continues straight past the old North leg to the end of the South Leg of the road out to Lost Lakes. That Southern leg is now a dead-end spur road out to the lakes.

Trail and Terrain

The predominant characteristic of this section of the trail is Dryness. From the exposed Forestdale Divide we get under a short bit of forest cover where the old Forestdale Creek Road's route turns towards the Lost Lakes.

This old spur of road also obscures the the trail for the Southbound hiker. Folks driving around up there have obscured our faint trail. For the Northbound hiker on the PCT, a nice reflective marker points the way to the trail.

The Southbound hiker will hit two sections of the old Forestdale Creek Road where they should take extra care. After crossing the Forestdale Creek Road on the South side of the Forestdale Divide the Southbound hiker will encounter the old road to Lost Lakes, which is still used by ambitious four-wheelers who have illegally kept this track open.
The Northbound PCT is clear to see, but the Southbound trail requires a bit of scouting to pick it up past where the old road crosses the trail. It's not difficult, but it slows us down as we scan the terrain to find where the PCT heads South across the faint track of the old route and the criss-crossing of tire tracks.

A short distance further South we will encounter the currently used spur off of the new route of Forestdale Creek Road out to the Lost Lakes.
Here the tire tracks from auto traffic combined with a partically obscured trail marker again give the Southbound hiker pause. Again, for the Northbound hiker this location is well marked. In this case by a home made PCT marker that someone put up, which well marks the Northbound route.

The video on this page address both of these ambigious points in the Southbound trail.

After finding the Southbound trail on the South side of the "new" spur road route to Lost Lakes, we again emerge from forest cover to climb across the Western flank of The Nipple. As we traverse up the Western Flank of the Nipple we will cross a sweet spot, a low spot in the ascending crestline that allows views in almost all directions.

Views

Great views Northwest reveal the backside, the Southwestern flank of the Round Top/Sisters Massif's crest line. This flank is the Northern flank of Summit City Canyon where the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route tracks along the Western flank of the Sierras. The impressive mass of granite that makes up the South Flank of Summit City Creek's great granite canyon and the Devils Corral are also visible from here.

Looking North of East we can see Hawkins and Pickett Peaks in the distance through the low spot in the flank of The Nipple. To the far Northeast we can make out the Carson Valley beyond the Eastern flank of the Sierra's Carson Range.

To the West we have an excellent perspective on Upper and Lower Blue Lakes at our feet nestled in at the base of The Nipple. The brilliant blue waters of these lakes are perfectly complimented by the dark green of their surrounding forests. 

Continuing South up the flank of The Nipple brings us past this sweet viewing spot, briefly restricting our views to the East until until we pass onto the South flank of The Nipple.

From the South Flank of The Nipple the terrain all the way to Ebbetts Pass, as well as long views of the Sierra Crest to the South become visible. The most notable feature is the lack of mountains for about six miles from where we come off the Southern flank of The Nipple to where we climb up the Northern flank of Raymond Peak. The next six miles will bring us across rolling terrain through dense forests spotted with numerous little lakes. 

The first thing I generally measure is the distance to the tree line and cover from my exposed position coming across The Nipple.

From the Southern Flank of The Nipple we are now less than 3 miles from Blue Lakes Road. Shortly to the South of Blue Lakes Road we will encounter a series of Lakes which offer water, good campsites, and nice places to spend the night.

Check out the topo hiking map.

And I am ready to kick back. I generally hit Tamarack Lake after a roughly 16 mile hike from Showers Lake or Round Lake, depending on if I am coming out of the Tahoe Basin through Echo Summit or the South Upper Truckee Traihead. Check the topo map for the Meiss Country Roadless Area North of Carson Pass.

I was especially beat on my last trip through this section, when I was carrying a heavy 11 day food supply to carry me from Meeks Bay to Tuolumne Meadows without resupplying. I was more than ready to make camp at Tamarack Lake!

 

 More Information

Trail Guide Page
Forestdale Divide to Blue Lakes Road

Topo Hiking Map
Carson Pass over Forestdale Divide to Lost Lakes

Topo Hiking Map
Blue Lakes to Upper Sunset Lake

Miles and Elevations
Carson Pass to Ebbetts Pass

 

Trail and Topics Forums
 

To view or post general Backpacking Information: TahoetoWhitney 

Backpacking Forums: Backpacking Topics and Trail Forums

 

 

Post your comments or questions about this section of trail through the comments link below, or Register to post your own stand-alone page about your trips in this section of the Trails Forum.

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