Summit Lake Trail

EASY 89 reviews
#13 of 163 trails in

Summit Lake Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Soda Springs, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
410 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

Directions from Truckee: Travel west on Hwy. #80 and take the Castle Peak/Boreal Ridge Road exit, which is immediately west of the highway's Donner Summit Roadside Rest Area. On the south side of the highway there is a sign reading: Tahoe National Forest Trailhead Donner Summit Pacific Crest Trail. Follow the directions on the sign turning east for 0.4 miles to the trailhead.

25 days ago

One of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever been on! We had a little trouble finding the trailhead as well. You have to go down the PCT for a bit and then the trail will take a sharp left and there is a sign.

hiking
1 month ago

This hike was awesome. Easy enough for a beginner but with some climbing and challenges. The view 3/4 way up is totally worth it, and right now in June there are wild flowers in bloom and green meadows all over! So beautiful. a fair warning, this trail head was hard for me to find as it's not clearly marked; head towards the PCT; then when you are close to the freeway, just before you reach a sudden meadow of beautiful light green brush on the left, instead of continuing onto the trail as it feels like you're meant to, turn left and hop over the little creek that's there, and you'll see the trail that will take you north under the freeway. It took me three passes to even notice it--albeit I'm a noob, I ended up pretty far south on the PCT before realizing I was walking away from summit lake! Doesn't matter as it's all so beautiful, made a lovely and unexpected 8 mile hike instead! Would love to add the glacier meadow loop next time. Also, if hiking after 4 pm, if you are prone to mosquitos take precautions!! *scritch scritch*

1 month ago

Lovely trail with our nature lover dog. Wildflowers were in abundance. We had a nice swim as did the dog, with few people around. You can hear a slight bit of highway traffic noise. But considering the proximity, it’s a wonderful spot to hike to. Obviously, lots of options to diverge from this loop.

hiking
2 months ago

This was an amazing hike! Perfect for intermediate and beginners. Lake was beautiful, lots of awesome rocks and colorful flowers. Highly recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

such a nice hike. great hike for the dog and the lake was amazing.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, lots of signs. We took our 3 year old and he had a blast too.

hiking
2 months ago

Easy out n back

2 months ago

Still a bit of water, the tunnel is filled with 2-3” so start from the west direction rest stop maybe. So didn’t go past that part. The main trailhead has some litter issues all the way up to where it goes behind the rest stop, maybe from families using this as a snow day spot as evident by all the plastic and coffee cups etc. It is everywhere and people should be ashamed really. Take a few pieces on your way out if you have a chance.

3 months ago

Sadly completely covered in snow. Looks like a great trail... will check back in a month or so.

hiking
9 months ago

Enjoyable walk through a variety of habitats. October is a great time of the year to hike this trail ... looking forward to hiking the trail during the spring.

hiking
9 months ago

Gorgeous, easy hike

hiking
9 months ago

Pretty fall color!

9 months ago

Nice educational signs at the start that highlight things you see throughout the hike. It actually goes under Hwy 80 which is intriguing. Nice, easy, wooded, crosses a stream several times. Will do again!

hiking
11 months ago

Another fantastic hike. Dogs off leash ok. Probably should bring a little water for the pups. Not too far of a hike but still the beauty is amazing.

hiking
11 months ago

Lovely hike that is perfect for someone who wants a little exercise, some challenge, great views, and doesn't have all day. It's easy to accidentally divert from the trail, and the trail around the lake is not very clear (you may have to make your own way). The lake is very swimming friendly. Wildflowers still visible, and lots of dogs.

11 months ago

beautiful lake and easy laidback hike.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Second time on this trail, but this time we parked at the westbound I-80 rest area and started there instead of at the designated start over a mile farther. So if you want to shorten it, start at the rest area. Otherwise a nice, pretty trail with lots to see. Summit lake is beautiful and good for a swim. My only complaint is the yahoos who 4x4 in from a road on the east side of the lake. They come in loud, stay loud, and bring loud things that hikers wouldn't carry in. If forestry closed that road, it'd be perfection. But since it's the yahoos who make it unpleasant and not the trail or lake itself, still five stars.

hiking
Saturday, August 12, 2017

Great easy hike. Well maintained trails with a few small water crossings but no need to get feet wet. A couple of cool tunnels under the freeway. Lots of beautiful wild flowers and great views. We will definitely hike this one again.

hiking
Monday, August 07, 2017

Beautiful hike! Well maintained, wildflowers, pretty lake, quite a few people and dogs on a Sunday afternoon.

hiking
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Beautiful and easy hike. My dog and I really enjoy it.

hiking
Friday, July 14, 2017

Great short hike to a pristine lake.

hiking
Friday, July 14, 2017

Sierra granite, beautiful lake and forest to explore.

hiking
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Good Hike. Still very muddy and patches of snow. The tunnels under the freeway were fine on the way in the morning but in the afternoon were flooded.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Great half day walk!!! Summit lake is worth the hike!

hiking
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

This is an easy trail close to town that most ages can do. The scenery is good. There are variations in terrain and good views. A sweet little day hike.

hiking
Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ran into coyotes on the way. keep a close eye on your dogs. They were right behind us. beautiful hike otherwise.

hiking
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This was a moderate trail with beautiful wild flowers, gorgeous outlooks, flowing streams and a beautiful lake pay off. We would've like to have gotten in the water but there were limited access points and the ones that were available were taken.

The bugs like to bite and will getcha once you stand still so keep it moving!!

This would be a great trail in the fall/early spring when it's cooler.

hiking
Thursday, July 14, 2016

Beautiful easy hike, with lots to offer, wildflowers (early July), granite, fir and pine, easy creek crossings and a nice alpine lake. For a nice day hike worth a look. We also ran into 2 through hikers on the PCT who were very interesting to visit with. Some mosquitos, deer flies and biting flies but it was bearable. All in all great representation of the best of what it is like to hike in the sierras. One drawback is a bit of car noise from Interstate 80.
Returned for a hike end of October after a rain. Trail was muddy and streams were flowing but still accessible and beautiful.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

I rode up the lake on Donner Rim Trail, the lake is so beautiful and i plan to bring my family to hike here next day. Don't forget insect repellent!

hiking
Sunday, June 26, 2016

Nice walk, probably too rugged for children under 8 unless they have some experience. Be prepared for swarms of mosquitos at dawn or dusk in spring or early summer.
Beyond that very nice combination of deep forest, meadows bare granite and soaring views to the south east across highway 80. Birds and wildlife abound. I saw juncos, blue birds, butterflies, deer, marmot, snake. Wildflowers and fungi also were there. This is part of the Donner Lake Rim Trail and a. branch off the Pacific Crest Trail.
I began at the westbound Highway 80 rest area which is sometimes crouded with tourists. Within less than a mile I was alone although higway sounds were present almost until the lake. Well marked, rocky, sometimes rugged trail with many small ups and downs.
I will hike again when I can spend more time.
My return trip at a trot (dodging mosquitos) took about 45 minutes. I would guess the distance between 2 and 3 miles one way-- possibly as short as a mile and a half.

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