Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trail loop around Long Lake reservoir

Long Lake in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area of the northern Sierra Nevada in California is surrounded by smaller lakes, pine and fir forest and various trails connecting the lakes and other scenic sites. Once the summer home of Maidu Indians, now seekers of granite scenery and solitude are visiting this area. You'll find more solitude, the further you hike away from the trailheads along Gold Lake Highway.
As a starting point for a hike around Long Lake, you may want to select the junction of the Round Lake and Bear Lake Trail at Silver Lake. From there, a trail climbs up to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. After less than 1/2 mile, turn right on Mud Lake Trail. This trail passes Helgramite Lake (elevation 7040 feet) and Mud Lake (elevation 6560 feet). The second half of this trail offers various views on the Long Lake reservoir and Mt. Elwell (elevation 7812 feet). Where Mud Lake Trail meets Long Lake Trail you can turn left and climb to the top of Mt. Elwell or continue the loop hike to the right. This is the most challenging part. This section of Long Lake Trail passes over steep, treeless rock slide areas. Watch out for loose rocks. It's getting easier as you approach the dam. Scattered trees on the slope to your left are standing tall and their structure tells you from where the wind is blowing most of the time (see picture with north-northwest view from the northern shore of Long Lake). After crossing the dam, the Long Lake trail takes you south and back to where you started.

The given elevations are from the Lakes Basin Recreation Area map (Greagle Land & Water CO.) and from signs posted by Plumas National Forest at the lake shores.

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