Redding: Albert Lakes via PCT

This 9.6-mile overnight in the Russian Wilderness is pine-studded, alpine lake-riddled, and in-your-dreams beautiful.

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©Leon Nelson


©Leon Nelson


©Leon Nelson


©Leon Nelson


©Leon Nelson


©Leon Nelson

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 7.7



Location: 41.3263931274414, -122.976066589355

Go E up gully toward headwaters of Music Creek


Location: 41.3259048461914, -122.966575622559

L @ 4-way onto Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). In the E, Mt. Shasta’s snowy crown stands above lower peaks


Location: 41.3310012817383, -122.966789245605

Reach saddle and contour high above Lipstick Lake


Location: 41.3367004394531, -122.963905334473

Ford streamlet of North Fork


Location: 41.3413238525391, -122.955078125

Drop over ridge and hike NW


Location: 41.3438873291016, -122.959632873535

White cliffs and giant pines hem in Paynes Lake, a great spot to photograph a summer sunrise. Ford outlet creek and climb 450 ft. WNW to alpine bench with two more lakes


Location: 41.3443984985352, -122.968505859375

Lower Albert Lake: There’s a one-tent campsite on SE peninsula. Or continue SW on off-trail route linking cairns to next lake


Location: 41.3422622680664, -122.972053527832

Shaped like a giant blue horseshoe, Upper Albert Lake offers good fishing, sweet swimming holes, and a nice camp spot on the forested peninsula


Location: 41.3434982299805, -122.975959777832

Side trip: Climb 300 ft. to the high saddle for more photo-worthy spreads of the sheer granite headwall of Big Blue Lake, Scott Valley, and camp. When ready, retrace route to trailhead

Big Blue and Scenic Views

Location: 41.3432197570801, -122.975891113281

From the saddle, scope long-range vistas over to Snoozer Ridge. ©Leon Nelson

Paynes Lake Alpenglow

Location: 41.3436393737793, -122.959671020508

The rocky headwall of Paynes Lake reflects a pink-grapefruit sunrise onto still, early-morning waters. ©Leon Nelson

Upper Albert Lake

Location: 41.3417778015137, -122.973213195801

The distinct horseshoe-shaped Upper Albert Lake from the ridgeline above. Snag the primo campsite on the forested peninsula for a five-star stay. ©Leon Nelson

Snowy Shasta from the Russian Wilderness

Location: 41.342586517334, -122.97339630127

©Leon Nelson

Lower Albert Lake

Location: 41.3448257446289, -122.968887329102

NE views to the blonde hills of the Scott Valley above the forested confines of Lower Albert Lake. The rocky peninsula on E shore has room for one tent. ©Leon Leson

Paynes Lake Before Sunrise

Location: 41.3437232971191, -122.959266662598

View across Paynes Lake to the grayscale granite wall below the sharp spires of unnamed peak 7,813. Only a two-hour hike from the Music Creek Trailhead. ©Leon Nelson

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