Pacific Crest Trail: Best Weekend – Marble Mountains, CA

Find big views and small crowds on this 18-mile loop in the Marble Mountains that tops above northern California at a secluded lakeside campsite.

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Sierra scenery without Sierra traffic is the lure of this 18-mile loop. Starting beneath Douglas fir and big-leaf maple on the Canyon Creek Trail, you’ll climb into the very alpine Sky High Lakes Basin. Views expand as you approach the PCT junction, situated 7 miles from the trailhead on a ridgetop at 6,400 feet. Hike the PCT northbound, then turn northwest on the Marble Rim Trail, ascending an open ridge of light-colored marble for less than a mile. A short off-trail section brings you to Marble Mountain’s 6,880-foot summit and exquisite views south from 1,000-foot cliffs to the Trinity Alps and north to the dark hulk of Black Mountain. Backtrack to the PCT and hike south 1.4 miles to the Shadow Lake Trail and the hike’s most spectacular campsite–perched at cliff’s edge hundreds of feet above Sky High Lakes Basin. Then it’s just .3 mile south on the PCT to a left turn down Red Rock Valley to the trailhead.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 24.6



Location: 41.5935173034668, -123.141586303711

Head SW on Canyon Creek Trail


Location: 41.5868225097656, -123.151000976562

R @ Y continuining up Canyon Creek Trail past multiple creeks spilling of ridge


Location: 41.5671157836914, -123.185829162598

Start 400-ft. climb along Marble Valley


Location: 41.5593757629394, -123.192428588867

L @ 4-way and head due E


Location: 41.5567321777344, -123.178031921387

R @ Y into Sky High Valley


Location: 41.5500297546387, -123.193099975586

R @ Sky High Lakes Trail, head toward Marble Mountain along slim ridgeline


Location: 41.5538482666016, -123.201103210449

Go R @ Y for 700-ft. ascent along open ridge of light-colored marble


Location: 41.5609931945801, -123.211456298828

Marble Mountan Summit (6,880 ft.): exquisite views S to Trinity Alps and N to the dark hulk of Black Mountain; backtrack to PCT and hike S to Shadow Lake Trail


Location: 41.5457191467285, -123.181701660156

L @ Shadow Lake Trail dropping onto shelf


Location: 41.5462799072266, -123.176208496094

Shadow Lake: hike’s most spectacular campsite perched on cliff’s edge hundred of feet above Sky High Lakes Basin


Location: 41.5444717407227, -123.169700622559

Stay R on PCT @ Shadow Lake Trail


Location: 41.5433006286621, -123.163497924805

L @ Y down Red Rock Valley to WPT 2 and retrace route to trailhead

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