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California Trails

Reno: Penner Lake

This 5.4-mile out-and-back has it all: 5-star camping, superlative swimming, and picture-postcard scenery along a patchwork of lakes in Tahoe National Forest.

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Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.4



Location: 39.4010047912598, -120.640609741211

Begin on Round Lake Trail along N shore of Carr Lake (6,664 ft.); cross riffles of Lake Creek


Location: 39.3992805480957, -120.634635925293

Skirt S shore of Feeley Lake beneath sloping ridge; red scree dome of Fall Creek Mtn. frames view to N


Location: 39.3972129821777, -120.62727355957

Climb along N shore of unnamed pond circled by alders and sedges


Location: 39.3962478637695, -120.623329162598

Turn N onto Crooked Lakes Trail, skirting Island Lake’s shoreline


Location: 39.3999252319336, -120.623413085938

NW shore of granite-encircled Island Lake; mighty fine swimming


Location: 39.4030570983887, -120.619300842285

Hike under red fir to small waterfall on Island Lake’s outlet. Hidden Lake rests in contours of Fall Creek Mtn.


Location: 39.4090576171875, -120.617141723633

Hike along W edge of marshy Crooked Lakes; bear down for ascent along talus path laced by manzanita, huckleberry


Location: 39.412841796875, -120.617057800293

Steep section before Penner Lake; see jagged Black Buttes to E


Location: 39.4151458740234, -120.617050170898

Crest ridge to view rocky shore of deep, emerald Penner Lake below; drop W off ridge toward Culbertson Lake


Location: 39.4177474975586, -120.616523742676

Penner Lake (6,895 ft.); best tent sites are on NE end. Optional: Scramble .4 mi. up ridge W of lake for dramatic views down to Culbertson and Lindsey Lakes ; continue 1.6 mi. N to bag Bowman Peak

Shores of Penner Lake

Location: 39.4189720153809, -120.614456176758

Pines teeter along the tranquil shores of an alpine gem. ©Loren Stout

Shard of Rock

Location: 39.4235992431641, -120.616279602051

From the peak north of Penner Lake, the trail is littered with broken talus. ©Loren Stout

Inundated Meadow

Location: 39.3973731994629, -120.628784179688

During the wet season, this meadow becomes a bog. ©Loren Stout

Island Lake Wide Shot

Location: 39.4001770019531, -120.622940063477

A clear alpine lake perfect for rest stop. ©Loren Stout

Shores of Island Lake

Location: 39.3965187072754, -120.625198364258

A rocky isle within the lake offers the perfect swim spot. ©Loren Stout

Ghosts of the Forest

Location: 39.3989791870117, -120.633918762207

A melancholy fog surrounds this stand of moss-draped conifers along Feely Lake. ©Loren Stout

Misty Timbers

Location: 39.3993339538574, -120.635406494141

A hazy morning over fallen branches along Feely Lake. ©Loren Stout

Nature’s Framing

Location: 39.4112663269043, -120.616989135742

Tall pines outline a serene meadow in Tahoe National Forest. ©Loren Stout

Rocky Path

Location: 39.4046897888184, -120.618896484375

Fallen needles and rocks line the path to Penner Lake. ©Loren Stout

Hillside in Shadow

Location: 39.413875579834, -120.616790771484

Flecks of sunlight peer through monster clouds on the ascent to Penner Lake. ©Loren Stout

Geometry of Nature

Location: 39.3978042602539, -120.63158416748

The growth pattern of this chartreuse moss parallels the ridgline. ©Loren Stout

Across Penner Lake

Location: 39.4184303283691, -120.616676330566

Smooth-as-glass waters reflect the craggy edges of Penner Lake. ©Loren Stout