Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): Ebbett's Pass to Noble Lake

Noble Lake is a small alpine lake situated between Tyron Peak (9,970 ft.) and Highland Peak (10,935 ft.) in the Sierra Nevada, just west to the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Ebbett's Pass (8,730 ft.) to Asa Lake and the Highland Lakes passes Noble Lake along its east side. This stretch of the PCT (about four miles between the Ebbett's Pass Trailhead and Noble Lake) shares its route with the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail (MCCT) [1].

The trail leads through open forest and meadows between the Pacific Crest and Noble Canyon. A junction with the Noble Canyon Trail is reached on the western canyon wall (don't worry, you mostly hike on a gentile, well-graded path with scenic switchbacks) after about three miles south from the Ebbett's Pass Trailhead. Hikers enjoy the expansive views of mountain ridges with craggy, ancient volcanic peaks, steep slopes, wild cliffs and brecciated rock formations. The top picture shows the PCT just north of Noble Lake. This switchbacking trail section on the eastern side of Noble Canyon is more exposed than most other parts—no trees except a few western junipers hanging on to the granite. Little Noble Lake is—in my opinion—not as impressive as its name suggests. But its surroundings are.

For a detailed trail-side description I highly recommend Joe's Trail Tales post (including many pics and a video), highlighting the spectacular display of sub-alpine wildflowers and the interesting geological features seen along this PCT section [2]. “Joe's tale” notes the highly eroded volcanic landscape through which the trail leads and winds.

Getting to the Ebbett's Pass Trailhead in Alpine County, California
This trailhead is found next to California State Highway 4 between the small town of Markleeville and the ski and snowboard resort of Bear Valley. Coming from Markleeville along the East Fork Carson River and driving the narrow, curvy road up to Ebbett's Pass, you'll see the sign (shown above) on the left side of the road, a short distance northeast of the actual Ebbett's Pass. Turn left and follow the short gravel road to the paved parking area. A short trail (0.2 mi), beginning at the information and sign-in board, connects this point with the PCT. At the junction, turn left onto the single-track trail for a southbound hike to Noble Lake. A good topographic map is included in [3]. You will need to fill out an available wilderness permit form only, if you park at the trailhead and plan to stay on the trail overnight.

References and more to explore
[1] Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail: Highland Lakes to Ebbetts Pass [www.calaverasoutside.org/USFS_HiLk-EbPa.pdf].
[2] Joe's Trail Tales: Ebbetts Pass to Noble Lake [http://www.bigtreestech.com/trails/2010/08/04/ebbetts-pass-noble-lake-trail/]
[3] Ebbetts Pass to Tyron Peak [http://tahoetowhitney.com/Ebbetts%20Pass%20to%20Sonora%20Pass/Ebbetts_to_Sonora_Maps/ebbetts-pass-tyron-peak-topo.html].

1 comment:

Mary Boblet said...

the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail route posted here is not official. Portions of the trail in the high country are not complete. Please visit the trail's official website or facebook for more information - www.mc2ct.org. Thank you.