The Warren Lake Trail is a very difficult 7 mile hike at an elevation of 7,200 feet. The hike to Warren Trail Lake can be challenging. For the first mile this hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail Access Trail (15E18). Approximately one mile beyond the Pacific Crest/Summit Lake Trail intersection is the start of the Warren Lake Trail (14E24.) This trail begins with an ascent through a pleasant alpine forest consisting of lodge pole pine, red fir and mountain hemlock. Beyond the forested area the trail crosses a saddle (8,570 feet in elevation) with spectacular views.
From this ridge the trail begins a 3.5 mile descent into the valley alongside the northeastern slopes of Castle Peak and Basin Peak. In this area the trail traverses a unique glaciated basin which offers a sense of back country remoteness rarely found in the Tahoe Sierra. Watch for the huge, dark-layered volcanic rocks and the underlying granite rocks. There are also many creeks to cross, with spectacular displays of sub alpine wildflowers.
After reaching another saddle the trail begins a quick descent of some 1,000 feet and winds steeply down toward Warren Lake.
On the western side of the lake there are a number of inviting campsites with opportunities for fishing, rock climbing, or just taking a well-deserved rest. Since the trail is rather strenuous and fairly long, it is recommended the hiker consider this a two-day hike. Warren Lake is an ideal destination for a hiker who is looking for an out-of-the-way camping experience and who recognizes the challenge this trail offers. It should be noted that snow may cover parts of this trail until the end of July.
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.
July through October
(NOTE: may be accessible year round.)