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Sword Lake Trail is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 6.4 mi Elevation gain 1,194 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Forest Lake Views Wild flowers Wildlife
Description
Waypoints (0)

There are two main trailheads to access this lake. The closest one is the County Line trailhead, at which you can park after having survived driving 6 miles of dusty dirt road, of Highway 108. The rangers at the Summit station in Pinecrest have said that the trailhead could be driven to in regular passenger vehicles but there are many holes and rocks. The trail starts climbing right away and is steep at places, but once you reach (quickly) the summit (which is on the side of the Dardanelles West), the rest of the short hike is mostly downhill. It goes through woodlands first, then in beautiful, flowery meadows before going back to woodlands close to the lake. You can set up camp high on the granite (to avoid mosquitoes) but still very close to the lake. Spend time swimming and jumping from the cliffs, exploring Sword Lake's brother, Lost Lake, taking great views of Spicer Meadow Reservoir, and taking pictures of the sunset.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (60)
Photos (126)
Recordings (42)
Completed (92)
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Jake McAnally
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 7, 2020
Hiking
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Adam Taylor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 7, 2020
Hiking

Cool trail, everything is burned

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Jake McAnally
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 6, 2020
Hiking
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Jennifer Moss
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 16, 2020
Backpacking

We took our two kids (7 & 9) backpacking for the first time to Sword Lake. It is a beautiful trail with a lot of diversity. You hike through burned areas into forest through meadows of wildflowers and then down to the lake. It was a little tough on the kids toward the end of the hike since we had to hike a ways around the lake to find an open campsite. At night, we had a great view of the stars and could hear bears in the distance. There were quite a few other backpackers at the lake overnight. The kids enjoyed jumping in the lake and we saw some other people jumping off the rocks into the water. The trail is dog friendly so we were able to bring him along too.

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Joshua Gomez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 10, 2020
HikingGreat!

Fun trail for sure. After the incline in the beginning of the trail, it’s mostly downhill to the lake. My partner and I stayed at the lake overnight and saw more stars than I’ve seen my life, way more than in Joshua tree. This was by far the highlight of the trip for me with the lack of light pollution. There was a decent amount of cars at the trail head and down the forest road. Roughly 20 vehicles on Saturday and Sunday, but definitely not a half mile. Pack some water and enjoy a dip in the lake.

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Heather Hopson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Backpacking

Found and packed out a ridiculous amount of garbage off this trail this weekend. It was pretty busy.. cars parked on the side of the road up to half a mile from the trailhead. Trail itself is super dusty in many spots due to it being a recent burn area but not too strenuous.

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Liz Kirby
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

This was a great trail. It was our first backpacking trip and I would definitely recommend it. I found the hike out to be more difficult since it was mostly uphill, but definitely worth it. There was plenty of camping spots, and about 75+ people camping around Sword Lake and Lost Lake on Saturday night. We luckily didn't encounter any mosquitoes or rain.

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Gary Holmes
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Hiking

Hard for a 73 yo

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Gary Holmes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Hills killed me

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Phillip Lloyd
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
Hiking

Fantastic little backpacking / camping getaway in the beautiful Pinecrest region. Even with no fires allowed this year, the clear and perfect temperature water of Sword Lake, ample overnight tent camping conditions, and billions of twinkling stars in the clear night sky made it more than magnificent. A must to explore, destination...

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Julie Stanford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 30, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

We just returned from a 2-night backpacking trip at Sword Lake with two families including kids ages 4, 7, 9. It was the first backpacking trip for the family with the younger kids and everyone agreed it was fabulous. I had a lot of questions before we started the trip that the reviews below didn't answer so I'll try to answer them here. First, the road to the trailhead is bumpy but totally doable for any car going slow. Our friends had a low minivan without AWD and it was totally fine so don't worry about that. The trail itself is easy to follow and a mix of shade and full sun. It is really gorgeous with lots to look at. The first half mile is uphill but not steep at all. The remaining 2.5 miles to the lake are downhill but a nice mix of flat and gentle grade. There are a few VERY MILD steepish parts but not concerning at all -- as a matter of fact in some places there are actually 4-5 steps made of rocks built into the trail so it never gets actually steep in a difficult way. After every semi-steep part there is a flat and most of the trail is a gentle grade. Everyone was fine with the hike including all the little kiddos both out and back. We also played a game that all the kids enjoyed where we had 4 easter eggs and put jelly beans in them and hid them along the trail (someone would go ahead to hide them and then shout that they had spotted some forest chicken eggs along the trail to the kids behind). It was great fun and made the hike go quickly. There is a stream halfway into the hike but it is very slight. You can filter water if needed but it's certainly not rushing and is a bit muddy. I recommend just packing 1.5 liters of water in your camelback and drinking that. No one in our party drank more than a liter in either direction. We drove up from the Bay Area on a Wednesday night and spent the night at the Strawberry Inn so we could hit the trail early on Thursday. There were very few cars at the trailhead. Once we got to the lake (3.1 miles exactly), we swam for a bit and then walked around to look for a spot and found a perfect one on the north side of the lake with a little sandy beach, good flat spots and shade by the water. The water temperature was ideal and there were no bugs (only one person got one mosquito bite at some point). Thursday night there was only one other group camped at the lake that we could see and we never heard them. Friday many people started showing up and Friday night was a bit louder. Saturday when we hiked out was starting to become really crowded and we were glad to miss the weekend. On Saturday the parking lot was way overflowing. Next time, I'll camp earlier to miss Friday night as well since it was nice to have the lake so quiet on Thursday. Friday during the day we hiked around and visited nearby lakes -- esp. Lost Lake, a 15-minute scramble over fun rocks from Sword Lake was great. The rocks are a bit lower on the sides at Lost Lake so cliff jumping was possible for even the 7 years old (the rock jumping at Sword Lake was a little higher and too scary for little ones). Overall, rock scrambling and swimming were a huge draw for everyone and were a ton of fun. This trip was amazing and I recommend it for people with and without kiddos. I am already planning a women's trip to come back. Thanks, Sword Lake -- you are nature at its best.

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Tim DeWitt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 27, 2020

I did a solo backpacking trip on July 25th. The place was packed. Not a place to get away from everyone on the weekends.

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Marlo Longley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020

Did this trip July 14-16, spent 2 nights at beautiful Sword Lake. The hike was very doable, was nice to see th regrowth happening amidst fire damage. Stream midway through hike. Camped at South side of the lake away from the water. 1-2 other parties were camping but none on our side of the lake. I recommend hiking around the lake, many sites close to the trail endpoint are off limits for restoration. a thunderstorm passed very close by, please be aware that it may rain and weather comes quickly. The drive to County Line TH is 6.5 miles. The ranger info and reviews on this site indicated it would be OK for 2 wheel drive. After experiencing it, my personal take is that it's too nerve wracking to do without 4wd, and could be tough on your car. No mud, just extremely bumpy with large rocks so higher clearance would be good as well. If you can make it safely to the trailhead this is an awesome trip.

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Adam Cook
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 18, 2020
BackpackingOver grown
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Maggie Paton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 11, 2020
Backpacking

We went to Sword Lake as an easy overnight backpacking trip 6/11-6/12. Took only about 2 hours each way, 3.5 miles. Lots of camping spots all around the lake. If you camp on the south (closer) side, you will have more sun in the evening and less in the morning. Wasn’t too buggy. There are a couple small streams about halfway along the trail if you can filter to top off your water. Popular area and pretty full trailhead but also able to park along the side of the road. To get to the trailhead it is about 6 miles on dirt road, but doable with any type of car.

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Monica Moritsch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 11, 2020
Hiking

Lovely hike! Good uphill start toward the ridge is met with amazing views of Donell Reservoir and the volcanic cones. Then it’s downhill or flat all the way to the lake (but it’s a hearty climb on the way back). Lost Lake is only 10 minutes past Sword Lake and equally pretty, and you get a view of Spicer Reservoir among the granite slabs. Lots of opportunities to swim. There’s shade at the lakes but not much beyond that. The area was burned a few years ago and the flowers are filling in under the bare tree remains. Road to the trailhead is not fun, lots of small rocks, but it’s doable with care. Plan for extra time to get there if you get nervous on unpaved roads.

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Lauralee Geis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 29, 2020
HikingBugsMuddyRocky

Great trail.... we came out at 7.40 miles.. we must’ve zigged when we should’ve zagged lol! Bring water and food! It was tough, lots of hills.

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David Molmen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 27, 2020
HikingBugs

The perfect overnight from the Bay Area. I was worried the fire the other year would’ve caused significant damage. There was a lot of new growth and wildflowers were abundant. The lake itself was spared by the fire. The water was the perfect temperature to cool you off on a hot day. There were enough mosquitoes and small flies at night to make me wish I’d brought bug spray, but it wasn’t so bad in the granite areas on the lake.

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Richard Sargent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 24, 2020
BackpackingBugs

County line trailhead was open all the way to the end and was easily accessible with our SUV. Hike in is about 2.5 miles with 300 vertical feet up at beginning and then down 500 feet to the lake. The Donnell Fire has affected the forest all along the trail and around the lake. Sword Lake was beautiful and the swimming was surprisingly warm. Mosquitoes were there but not as bad as I had feared. This is a great hike for first-timers and those with young kids. My 6 and 9 year-olds handled it without a problem.

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Dr. Noob
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 20, 2020
HikingBugsMuddy

I went hiking with my dad, older brother, and younger brother as our first hike together. Trail is good and visible and pretty straight forward but what i didnt like it how up and down you are constantly going but otherwise it was good. The water when we arrived was fairly cold but we still got the chance to jump off a couple of boulders. I would give 5 stars but in some areas it was muddy and in other areas it was burnt. we saw around 15 people on the trail and about 5 dogs so it wasnt busy. Overall good first hike, would reccomend. I might visit back in a year when flowers have grown back

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David Koenig
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 12, 2020
Hiking

June 12, 2020. The forest service road is open all the way to County Line trail head. Bumpy ride in but nothing a car can't do with a little care. Nearly all of the trail is affected by the Donnell Fire in Aug. 2018. It appears that this trail has seen little traffic since. Grass and small plants are covering much of the trail, lots of branch/limb litter on the trail, but generally still easy to follow. There are some areas past the first stagnant pond that the trail is quite obscure. Two directional posts near Sword Lake remain and are helpful to keep you going to the lake and not misdirected off onto the pack trail. This is probably an early season trail now. The first climb will be hot and dusty later in the season. Wild flowers were everywhere, probably peaking in the next week or so. Lots of streams and runoff. Overall a nice hike even though it burned.

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Cassie Matangelo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 10, 2020
HikingBugs

Was a hard hike then I thought but it was beautiful lake and the jumping rock was so fun! I went in early June and it was cold but not unbearable water, lots of mosquitoes so bring bug repellent if they bother you!

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Kimberly Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 27, 2019
HikingClosed

Road to trailhead remains closed about a half mile in due to fire last year.

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Jose Alvarez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 29, 2019
Hiking

Can I hike this trail?

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Vicky Fuller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 26, 2019
HikingClosed

I went to hike this trail today. The road to the trail head remains closed. I assume it is due to the fire that went through a couple years ago. It looks like they have been doing some logging of the burned trees. I hope they get the trail opened soon.

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Sonia K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 1, 2018

Went here a lot in my teens, it was always a very easy hike! I was a leader in training @ Camp Jack Hazard, we got to explore many of these lakes near Dardanelle. I'm excited being back after many years away & can bring my own kid now!

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Laurel Boyd
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 24, 2018
Hiking

I tried hiking this trail yesterday, however, the dirt road leading to this trail was closed. I ended up hiking the dirt road, which consisted of a steady incline, nothing unbearable. You cross several camping areas and streams. The mountain which is either the Dardanelles or adjacent to was burned and there are a lot of dead trees which I assume is why the dirt road was closed. I’m hoping the road opens sometime soon because I’d really like to hike it.

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