Paradise Lake Trail

MODERATE 58 reviews
#10 of 164 trails in

Paradise Lake Trail is a 14.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Truckee, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

14.9 miles
2,582 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly





nature trips





wild flowers


An overnight backpacking trip along the Pacific Coast Trail in Truckee, California. Paradise Lake is a classic Sierra Nevada lake with gorgeous sunsets and a pristine lake full of trout. This overnight backpacking trip is easily accessible from Highway 80 and follows parts of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Tahoe National Forest.

44 minutes ago

one of the most beautiful alpine lakes. unfortunately has been discovered by too many people.

Question: has anyone day hiked this? Thoughts?

22 days ago

Susan, no wilderness permits are needed for this trail but you need a fire permit if you want to have a fire in an already established ring. You can get those online. We camped along the east shore which requires walking through some brush, but it was way more private, swimming is better off the west shore though. Did this trail about a month ago and plan to go back. Beautiful but the mosquitos were absolutely horrible, like hide in your tent horrible.

22 days ago

Question - Do I need a trail pass to backpack here?

1 month ago

trail was good and clear . paradise lake phenomenal like always

1 month ago

I was worried that this trail would be too advanced for me, since it was my first ever solo backpacking trip. But it was AWESOME. Like Weston said (in the reviews), the wildflowers were in FULL AND AWESOME bloom. There were lots of people at the lake, which may have just been because of the weekend after 4th of July, but one of the groups was super loud. I'd go during the week if you're going on peak season. Oh, and I went through about an ounce of bug spray. The mosquitoes are there to eat you alive. But the trail was fantastic, the meadows were amazing, the hills were manageable and fun, and overall, it was a trip I would happily take again.
You can still hear the freeway from the 80 most of the way up there, and there are planes overhead. It's hard to dock a star for that because, well, life is life. But I'll be looking for more off-the-beaten-track trails in the future.

1 month ago

Awesome trail with great views and a few meadows. Meadows should be in full bloom in the next week or two. There’s still some snow on the trail in the sections that are in Paradise Valley, but just follow the footprints and you’ll be ok. Overall pretty moderate hike with some harder sections that’ll keep you entertained. I recommend setting up camp on the eastern or ESE part of the lake to get a great view of the sunset...or just make camp elsewhere and take the short hike around the lake for the views. If there are storms in the forecast for the next day be aware that winds will be pretty strong at the lake. P.M. thunderstorms were in the forecast the day that I hiked out, yet I was met at 530am with thunder, lightning and some sleet at the lake. So as always, be prepared!

6 months ago

We did this backpacking on snowshoes over 2.5 days - could have been two.
On the way in we followed this trail, and on the way back we went up the ridge route from the south-end of Paradise Lake.
The semi-frozen swamp with the invisible four-wheel drive trail at the end was the 'downside' of this trail for snowshoeing - at least on our trip. We were on top of the trail according to the GPS, but I have no idea where it was. At the end of a long day, that was the biggest downer of the trip - wet freezing boots and leaping creeks with a pack and snowshoes on :/ I recommend getting to the Paradise Lake sign early, and taking your time with route finding to skirt the swamp.
The ridge trail out, our ' I am not doing that again reroute', was beautiful, but also very hard work on snowshoes! It is a lovely area, and once away from the highway noise, a peaceful winter trip with the option to stop by the Peter Grubb Hut for a little Sierra history.

This time of year the PCT underpass is a knee-high frigid drain! Walking under the highway on the road shoulder from the SnowPark was much better on the way back.
Also note, for overnight trips you are required to park at the SnowPark, so remember to get a permit.

9 months ago

phenomenal experience. can't wait to do it again

11 months ago

Did this trip as a mid week, 2 nighter. My girlfriend and I had the lake to ourselves which was sweet. Overall the trip was great, we did the warren lake loop as a day hike which was fun but lots of elevation/not for the faint of heart.

Only complaint I have is that there were no signs of trout in paradise lake! I brought my gear but didn't see as much as a minnow. I did see some big ones jump in warren lake though, would have tried my luck there if I had my rod on the day hike.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The hike was fun but there was so many mosquitoes. There is plenty of camp spots at the lake but like I said the mosquitoes are bad except around noon and late at night. Snow wasn't bad on the trail, it's pretty easy to follow the footsteps in the snow when the trail is covered.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

This hike was great. A buddy and I spent a couple extras days up here and the surrounding area hiking castle peak and basin. Proceeded down to paradise to camp for the night before visiting Warren early on in the day then rock climbing up into devils oven. (Much more difficult then anticipated). From
There we hiked up and out of devils oven and found the Warren lake trail witch we used to loop back around the backside of basin and castle peak before finding our way back to our car across from boreal

Monday, October 10, 2016

Loved this hike! It was pretty easy getting to Paradise Lake. Not too many signs on the way but when you need to turn right there is a sign on a tree. There was a good amount of people camping at the lake. Weather was beautiful but very cold at night and early morning. The way back the trail was a little harder due to more uphills but the switch backs were nice. Great views. I would do this hike again in the future.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Fun out n back day hike. Easy trail and the lake was amazing. Prepare for a 2 mile uphill grind on the return from the lake, so fuel up before leaving Paradise.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Beautiful, well worth the nice 6 mile hike in. The lake and surrounding area is gorgeous! Just bring a face net or bug spray for the last 2.5 miles in and out. The bugs eat you alive.

Monday, July 25, 2016

This was a good hike. We extended it a bit by starting at the donner party PCT trailhead at a rest area off of 80. It made the hike around 10 miles each way. Took us about 4 hours. We hiked with 2 dogs. They did well but were a bit sore after the hike out. The trail is easy to follow. We only had trouble at the very end hiking up the granite to the lake. There are very nice camping sites and even some established fire rings. My only complaint is the bugs. In the afternoon on the way there, the flies were pretty bad. We left around 8am the next day and got eaten alive by mosquitos. Overall a good hike with some beautiful vistas on the way there and a perfect view from the tent at the end.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

It is a nice hike, I recommend doing the out and back and only continue to Warren lake if you are prepared to Boulder down rocks.

Monday, July 04, 2016

We did the entire loop from Paradise Lake over to Warren Lake and out of Warren lake. It was very difficult but beautiful. The hike to Paradise Lake was easy, met lots of amazing PCT through hikers. Our goal was to get to Warren Lake, the climb over was very difficult. Perhaps we were on the wrong trail? We climbed over boulders, and cliffs. We had to take our packs off to climb down certain areas, very scary at points.
Warren Lake was beautiful. We set up camp, had a cold swim. The hike out was tough. You climb to 8,000 elevation. There was snow on a lot of parts that made you lose the trail. Make sure you have a satellite map just to keep you on the right course. Some areas not clearly marked. It was such a relief to see day hikers. This gave us hope we were close to our starting point. After 3 days on the trail, scratched, bruised and eaten up by mosquitos we wanted to get home!!! Take Deet!!! Only thing that works. A friend told me about app works when your phone is on airplane mode.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Went for a lovely hike and the ended it with a magnificent swim in the lake. Camped on the east side of the lake. There is a very nice camping spot with a grill located on the north side of the lake. Try to avoid the jeep trail as much as you can at the start. The trails to the west or along the ridge are more lovely. There is a spring about 5 or so miles in. Probably more fresh water sources earlier in summer but in Auguest they were a bit sparser. Awesome hiking trip. Easy grade, nice distance, good camp grounds. :) enjoyed it very much so

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beautiful trail, more a moderate hike than hard if starting from the end of the jeep trail. If you are taking the Jeep trail, go left at the fork to Castle Pass (there is a sign for that and Hole in the Ground) and park there for a shorter hike or go right at the fork to start lower on the PCT. Either way, the hike is great. Paradise Lake is another stunning alpine lake with pristine water, cool islands to swim to and a nice trail around the edge. The only problem is that it is well loved. There are MANY fire rings, some trash and many people. This weekend there were no less than 50 people at the lake camping. The trail to Warren Lake is difficult - we only made it halfway on a lazy day hike - but I heard it was worth it and there is a trail going around that lake. There are not really other day hike options from Paradise. I recommend it - mid-week. Or maybe later in the fall when the cold keeps some people out of the backcountry.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

This was a nice little overnight trip, not too many people camping at the lake. The portion of the PCT is beautiful, and the hiking is moderate except for the initial ascent and the switchbacks leading down to the turnoff to the lake.

I parked at the end of the road on the opposite side of the freeway from Boreal and hiked up the jeep trail to where it intersects with the PCT at Castle Pass. The jeep trail is obvious and easy to follow and there is good signage at Castle Pass for the PCT. There is also a sign at the trail that splits off to Paradise Lake. Approaching the lake, the trail becomes hard to follow over the granite slabs, so look for cairns leading the way, or just keep working your way east and you will run into the lake. There are several good campsites along the bank of the lake on the west and southwest sides, and also an island you can wade over to and camp on as well.

Beware the mosquitos! Bring plenty of bug spray -- I have never seen so many mosquitos, especially when the sun went down and early in the morning. There were thousands of dragon flies, which won't bother you and were kind of cool to watch as they moved in waves and congregated over the water. I dropped a line several places in the lake in an attempt to fish, but met with negative results. The lake water was very clear and I saw no fish.

This is a great hike for dogs if they are in reasonable shape. It was a little too much for my bulldogs, but bulldogs are not known for their athletic abilities. We made the trek in about four hours, which includes a few breaks. There was plenty of water in the form of creeks and streams along the way, but it was pretty strenuous for them. The jeep trail is VERY rocky and was rough on their paws, and sections of the trail that were steep or exposed tended to burn them out quickly.

I carried a 40-pound pack that included 2 liters of water. It was only slightly more water than I needed to do the hike (one way) in four hours and stay very hydrated. I will pick a shorter hike for my dogs in the future, but I would do this hike again without them. The lake was beautiful, if a little cold, but a lovely destination after a long hike.

Sunday, June 07, 2015


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jessica, if you have a higher clearance vehicle you can take the andersite ridge fire road a few miles back to where it intersects the pct. It's a good spot to camp and stage. If you don't have a vehicle capable of making the trail, it is a fire road so is easy to follow. The road splits almost immediately after the gate, go right and follow the road, it splits a few times, stay to the left. Once the road runs out hike up to the ridge right in front of you and you are on the pct. have fun!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hi-- I am planning on taking an overnight backpacking trip to Paradise Lake in a couple weeks. I'm not arriving in the area until the evening time and plan on starting the hike early the next morning. Is there anywhere close to the trailhead where I can camp-- a campground not far down the highway? Is the trail defined enough to night hike a little ways in and camp?

Sorry for posting questions and not a review: there isn't too much info. about this trail online. Hopefully I can get some answers that may be helpful to others planning a hike.

Thanks in advance and Happy Trails! :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

This is a nice walk and beautiful destination. More like 20 miles RT if parking at Donner Pass Sno-Park and taking the PCT the entire way. The lake is absolutely perfect. Went in for an overnight backpack on 10/23-24. Had the lake to ourselves. No bear activity - bear vault undisturbed. The lake was a bit tricky to find. Take the jeep track until it peters out on granite, and then follow the little rock cairns due east. You'll hit the west side of the lake. A very nice reward after a moderate hike, and a location worthy if staying and relaxing for a couple of days.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Great trail and Paradise Lake is beautiful. I've been there 2 times this summer and would go again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

September, 2012
Fantastic spot. Trail is tricky to follow at points. The one on our (admittedly old) map was gone so we just bushwacked straight up to the saddle.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I solo backpacked into Paradise Lake back in early October. I took the Castle Peak trail to the top (got some strange looks due to my pack) and the view was great. I then headed north along the top of the ridge for a mile or so to the second little peak, also a great view. I went down northwest to meet up with the PCT but ran into some other unmarked trail instead. That was taking me the wrong way so Eventually I just bushwhacked towards where I knew the lake was. I ended up on top of a very steep ridge with the lake in sight and scrambled down to the meadow on the west side and then to lake.
The lake is beautiful with scattered camp sites. If you walk around to the easy side of the lake there is a pretty awesome view of warren lake nestled below.
The trails are a bit confusing at the start, but if you have a topo and know how to navigate there's not too much danger of getting lost.
I must say that this was by far the windiest trip I have ever experienced (all night!) but that's partially due to the time of year and the exposed elevation.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

We used to live up the road in Magalia, spent lots of time on the lake. Well maintained - fun fishing (never caught anything big) - beautiful scenery and easy for the kids. I've heard of bear sightings but never seen anything bigger than lizards and snakes. Fun bees living in the hillside at one point - great to sit on the bench with the kids and watch them. Love this trail.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Great hike. Awesome lake with plenty of good campfire spots. I would definitely recommend taking the time to hike up ad over to warren lake. Even if you just chill at the top and look down at the lake. It's gorgeous! Enjoy

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