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This is more of a (very) long drive than a hike to a lookout tower...

1 month ago

This is a pretty easy hike that contours around a few drainages, but without major elevation gain or loss. It passes through a mix of old trees as well as burned forest areas. Russian Lake is really gorgeous, although the short uphill trail to it from Waterdog Lake takes a little looking to find.

Made it to Paynes Lake again yesterday, my 3rd visit this month. This time hiked from the Music Creek trailhead, then took the PCT north to Paynes. Also got an aerial view of Lipstick Lake on the way, though part of it looked dried out. It's a pretty small lake, more like a really big puddle.

No way to get to the trailhead, but beautiful drive from Yreka.

Made it to Paynes Lake again on October 20th, two days after my first visit on October 6th. This time I took the longer but much less strenuous route from Etna Summit rather from the Paynes Lake trail head. The Etna Summit route is not only less strenuous, but also much more scenic. Aerial views of Smith Lake and Taylor Lake along the way. Great views of Mount Shasta and Etna backdrop as well.

I reached Paynes Lake today from the Paynes Lake trail head. (Can't seem to find that option here on this website, otherwise, I would have written the review there instead.) This is a a much shorter trail to get to Paynes Lake rather than taking the PCT from Etna Summit, however, it is quite steep and strenuous. I was the only one on the trail and at the lake. Also of note, lots of bear poop on the trail and around the lake, but didn't see any bears.

Last weekend I did part of the trail that leads to Paynes Lake from Etna Summit, but stopped and turned around once I got to the overview of Smith Lake. Also visited Ruffey Lake on this hike. I will post pix of Ruffey, Smith, and Paynes here.

Such a beautiful trail! The first half is all uphill so be prepared to climb, but the views are spectacular! About half way you should reach the top of a ridge, and depending on what time of year it is, there might be an area covered in snow. Because you’re so high up, the view from that spot is AMAZING. I would also suggest taking a day hike up to Albert and Upper Albert lakes. There is a small trail leading to Albert if you follow the small trail that leads through camp to the right. However there is not a trail up to Upper Albert so you’ll have to make the trek up the side of a cliff essentially. It’s totally worth it though. but don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself.

on Bingham Lake Trail

4 months ago

The steep hike down from the trail head and the boulder filled hike out to the PCT were rough. The lake is stunning though with crystal blue water. I recommend it just take your time on the trails in/out.

Nice drive up to trailhead (got lots of elevation gain). Hike was really easy- not sure why it was rated as Hard.

Beautiful lakes. We went here last minute to escape the Carr fire smoke. Great to be up above the smoke that drifted into the valleys.

No fish at Russian Lake

Absolutely beautiful area! We hiked in from Lovers Camp TH and spent one night at Sky High Lakes. The second and third nights we spent at Summit Lake with a day hike to Campbell Lake. And the fourth night we hiked into Red Rock Valley and camped near a meadow and creek confluence. Despite part of the trip being on a weekend, we didn't see all that many people and it was very peaceful. Our trip was at the end of June and the mosquitoes weren't nearly as bad as other mountain lakes I've camped at. I loved the variety of the terrain, the views, and the wildflowers were stunning.

6 months ago

4 points for the hike itself, but 2 for ease of following. The hike is gorgeous, but the places it diverges from the PCT are not marked and involve some steep bushwalking. The trail description should point this out.

Nice hike, turned out to be a little long after getting lost trying to transition off the first trail. Now we’re familiar with it though it’s easy to spot: when when you come to the the giant fallen Ponderosa, go the direction it is pointing.

We hiked in from the road on the PCT. We hiked approximately 2 miles from the trailhead. The first 1.5 miles was steep up, then the last .5 mile was steep down. Once you hit the crest, you get a great view of Upper Ruffey Lake and Mt. Etna peak. Very beautiful. We camped fairly close to the lake and on the second day we hiked about a mile into meek meadow lake. Not too much to see there but the plains/Marsh was very beautiful. We took 4 kids with us ranging in age from 6-10. All the kids did well and would say this is kid friendly with a few steep areas to keep in mind with small kids. Bring your fishing pole!

7 months ago

Take note, the part not on the PCT is part ski slope descent, part creek ascent, and part bushwhacking. I'm disappointed this is presented as a trail.

7 months ago

Did this hike today, the short hike to Taylor Lake followed by hiking down to Hogan Lake. I was wanting to get to Big Blue Lake as well, but I couldn't quite figure out the trial to get to the area where I needed to start climbing up.

7 months ago

I did this hike yesterday. Was on the trail for just over 6 hours, not a soul in sight on the trail nor on the forest road leading to the trail head. Must have covered close to 15 miles. There were some lovely wild flowers on the trail (orange, red, yellow, and purple in color; I don’t know names) and spotted some fresh bear poop on the trail as well, but thankfully had no bear encounters. Made it to Waterdog Lake but could not find Russian Lake; signage is not the greatest on this trail. I did get an aerial view of a lake but don’t believe to be Russian Lake. I’ll post a pic of that in the photos.

One of my favorite overnight hikes! We took our two children 8 and 11 last year on Father’s Day weekend! There is a brutal climb about 4 miles in. Was very quiet as the road was closed. We had to use logging roads to get to the trailhead! Hit snow at about 5 miles up and didn’t have GPS so set up camp. Didn’t make it to the lakes but it was a Beautiful hike! I want to go back! Plenty of shade and creek crossings and beautiful scenery!

8 months ago

Beautiful hike, though we only made it about half-way before the trail disappeared under several feet of snow. A tip, though - if you want to do the hike shown in the map, be sure to drive to the end of the road; after parking in the parking area, walk up the dirt road to the gate marking the trailhead shown on the map. If your navigation system tells you to stop sooner (and there is no obvious parking area), keep driving to the end of the road. If you just want to go to the lake, it's an easy half-mile (or less) stroll from the parking area. This hike could easily be made into a 3-mile loop, hiking up the road to the PCT, around to see the gorgeous views, back down to the lake, then an easy stroll back to the car. That is probably the way I'll do it next time (later in the summer, after the snow has melted).

Beautiful drive campgrounds nice too hiked to beaches

“Review stars” not accurate, just an update that as of today 3/12/18, the road after the bridge, past Indian Scotty campground is closed due to slides and fire suppression activities! Either adding an extra 5mi of hike, or the Lovers Camp trailhead is still open (the road-closed signs advised it) if you take Canyon Creek Rd another 2.5mi and turn left onto an unmarked road and then follow the randomly placed signs. I tried that but ended up turning around after a few miles, road got a little sketchy with loose clay-mud and melting snow/slush! (4wd rav4 was slipping a bit). Just leaving this here in case anyone else drives two hours to get here and go on this hike just to putz around and drive back haha :)

My husband and I backpacked this in August of 2016 in the middle of the week. We were surprised to see so many people up there, but it was still absolutely worth it. The first half is fun but nothing mind-blowing. There's a pretty steep stretch in the middle that gets your heart pumping, but other than that it was mild. The views are beautiful; lush meadows, peaks, streams, and plentiful tree coverage. Every reasonable spot around the Sky High lakes had already been claimed by early evening, but we nabbed the perfect spot on the south end of Frying Pan lake and had that whole area to ourselves. Such a great spot! We day hiked up to Shadow Lake the next day and decided to go back to camp, pack up our stuff, hike back up there and spend the night. Lots of traffic on the PCT ridge, but Shadow Lake we had all to ourselves until sunset. That view from the cliff past Shadow Lake looking down on the valley and Sky High Lakes was jaw-dropping. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hiked early December, ran into a lot of snow in different places. It was a beautiful hike with many views of Shasta! As you depart from the PCT, the trail isn’t marked and we trekked through about 6 inches of snow. I assume it would be easier to see without ground covering. The hike back down was also not noticeable as there was snow. Looks like it was to go down around the ski slope, but wasn’t completely sure. Ended up turning around and going back the way we came. Fairly easy hike for an experienced hiker. Traveled with one, inexperienced hiker who had quite a bit of difficulty.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The view of the ridge is reason enough to take this trip, but there is also the black marble mountain, the sky makes, and the elk lakes. The views were beautiful. I was only up there for two days. Ideally I would have liked to have gone for four and get in the sky and elk lakes in the same trip.

I will definitely be going again. The stairs were difficult but it was so worth it. Oh, and don't be afraid of the cows.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I’ve been going to Taylor lake since 1957. It is a short, gentle hike from the trailhead that is accessible by wheelchair ( for fit people). There are three or four excellent camp sites. Don’t make the mistake of camping on the meadow at the far end of the lake. The bugs will eat you alive.

Fishing used to be terrific. You could catch fish from shore, float boat, or fly fishing at the far end of the lake. That ended when Fish and Game killed the fish and stopped stocking the lake to protect a threatened species of salamanders. This is one of the most accessible lakes is Siskiyou county. It’s a shame that short sighted environmentalists ruined the experience for so many people. They have presented no evidence that their actions improved the status of the salamanders. The salamanders flourished even when Fish and Game stocked the lake. This situation is unacceptable.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The best way to get to the lake is to drive north from the Taylor Lake trail head— not via the PCT. Thirty years ago the road went to within 800 yards of the lake. It’s blocked now because it’s too dangerous. Today, it’s a steep one mile hike to the lake.

My best trout fishing day in my life was at upper Ruffey lake. We camped overnight and fished the next morning. We caught fish using anything we tried: flies, lures, salmon eggs, worms, and Super Bait. This was my children’s first exposure to fishing. It ruined fishing for them because they thought their first experience was common. The next time we fished Ruffey lake, we didn’t catch anything.

The Lower Ruffey Lakes are a short, easy hike. These lakes are a good day hike, particularly if you approach from the Taylor Lake trailhead. I recommend this hike but don’t plan on a magic fishing day.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Beautiful fall hike!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Little travelled, except maybe in hunting season (late Summer/ Fall: check). Good basecamp: lots of nearby features. Trout in the lake(s). In summer it is hot down at Sawyers Bar, but it is pleasant when you get to altitude. Easiest to take two days in (uphill) if your are heavily loaded or with kids. One day out isn't too hard.

I hiked to Devil's Peak-gorgeous but a lot of ticks!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's just a beautiful place to see..

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

This is a fantastic hike. I give it five stars especially for the last leg, between the Sky High Lakes (where we dropped our packs and camped) to Shadow Lake (where you can camp but there is no shade). We day hiked up there and took a swim. Mad wild flowers and scenic views of Marble Canyon, and nobody else was there. The first part was great too, through a shaded forest, crossing around 10 streams. Camping near Frying Pan Lake was incredible too, overlooking meadows and mountains, with incredible sunsets. The best campsite is right on the lake in a patch of trees, just off the trail.
The GPS map for this hike is wrong starting at around 5 miles (you can see it doesn't go to any lakes - do not turn right at the sign for Marble Vy Cabin!) so follow signs or better yet, bring a map (you especially need one if you explore beyond the lakes. Also the bridge was out when we went and finding the trailhead on an alternate route is challenging. Stop by the ranger station for instructions if it's still out.

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