The Summit Lake Trail is an easy 2 mile trail at an elevation of 7,200 feet. For the first mile this hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail Access Trail (15E18) in an easterly direction and then follows the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for another mile in a northerly direction, passing through a tunnel under I-80. Shortly after the underpass the intersection with the Summit Lake Trail (15E-09) is clearly marked.
The trail climbs moderately and crosses two small creeks, which are separated by a low, glaciated, granitic ridge. Beyond this the trail arcs though a meadow which is full of many beautiful wildflowers from spring though late summer. The trail continues past the intersection with the Warren Lake Trail, veering to the right and out to the edge of a bald, descending ridge. From here, under a delightful forest cover, it is a brief hike to the south corner of the lake. Summit Lake is populated with eastern brook and rainbow trout. Camping is available at the lake.
Directions from Truckee: Travel west on Hwy. #80 and take the Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge Road exit, which is immediately west of the highway's Donner Summit Roadside Rest Area. On the south side of the highway there is a sign reading: Tahoe National Forest Trailhead Donner Summit Pacific Crest Trail. Follow the directions on the sign turning east for 0.4 miles to the trailhead.
June through October
(NOTE: may be accessible year round.)