Back to index Raymond Lake

Trip Date:  08/02/2019

: 11.6 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2230'

Group Size: 4

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Raymond Lake Route
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Raymond Lake Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 36.369
W 119 52.609
    End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   4WD Required.  Take Highway 88 to the Blue Lakes Road turn south, just to the west of Pickett's Junction.  Go south on Blue Lakes road 11.5 miles to the turnoff for the Tamarack Junction trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail, otherwise known as Sunset Lake Road.  Follow this often 4WD necessary road 3.5 miles to the parking area indicated at the coordinates, just short of Sunset Reservoir.  When you get to a T intersection about 1/2 before the coordinates, turn left to head to Sunset.  Heading right will take you to Wet Meadows reservoir, and an alternate trailhead for the same hike.
Hazards of Note:   Access to the trailhead, route-finding, mosquitos, tics, loose rock and shale and a tenuous climb up to the peak.
Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  Most of this trail is along the Pacific Crest Trail section J, and you will most likely run into a few PCT through-hikers on most days.  Raymond Lake is also a popular fishing spot, and you will potentially see a number of anglers at the lake, especially near the weekends.
General Notes:
At the parking location indicated by the coordinates above, the Pacific Crest trail is just about 20 feet south of your location.  Pick up the trail and head east.  You will see Sunset Reservoir on your left through the trees as you begin, and about 1/2 mile further you will see glimpses of Wet Meadows reservoir on your right.  Much of the first part of this trail heads through forested cover, with a few easy creek crossings to navigate on the way.  When you reach the signed trail junction with Wet Meadows trail, head to the left, and within 500 feet you will cross into the Mokelumne Wilderness at a signed boundary.  After a short climb the trail will emerge out into an open area with loose granite as the trail base, and the western ridge of Raymond Peak and its ridgeline is clearly visible to the south.
The trail will continue due east for another mile, until you reach a fantastic overlook spot right at a switchback turn.  This location has a clear view of Pleasant Valley below, Markleeville further to the east, and much of the northern area and peaks in the Mokelumne Wilderness to the northwest and west.  From here the trail begins to climb, and you will soon begin climbing up the eastern flank of the Raymond Peak ridgeline.  This section is cut right into the side of the mountain, and is spectacular.  Switchbacks continue, many out in the open with sweeping views all around you as you head toward the lake.  
At the signed junction for Raymond Lake head to the right, and you will still have another 4/5 of a mile of switchbacking to go to the lake.  It almost felt like an amusement park line where you kept going back and forth not realizing how far you still had to go.

Mark prepping for the start of the hike, with the PCT just visible behind the rock in the background.
Parking area

Making our way up the early section of trail, which is mostly in forest cover for about a mile.
Early trail 

The boundary of the Mokelumne Wilderness, with hiking models and the picture borrowed from a trip along this trek a few years ago.
Wilderness entry 

A look toward the south at the Raymond Peak ridgeline, which extends to the west and is also accessible via cross-country up this canyon.
Raymond Ridge to the south 

Mark taking a break and enjoying the view of Pleasant Valley and Markleeville beyond from the overlook about 2.5 miles into the hike.
Mark at the overlook Overlook view

Around the bend heading up the east side of the ridge the trail follows a cut right into the mountain with some pretty steep dropoffs below.
Around the bend

After the section cut into the side of the mountain the trail switchbacks up an open alpine area, with views of Raymond Peak luring you on toward the lake.
Peak ahead 
Every time the trail switches back climbing toward the north, this spectacular view toward Carson Pass awaits your gaze.  
Behind you 

The signed junction off the PCT toward Raymond Lake finally appears at the 5 mile mark, with another nearly mile to go to reach the actual lake itself.
 Raymond Lake junction

Raymond Lake is spectacular!  As soon as you reach the shore this is the view that you have with the peak of the same name towering behind it.
Raymond Lake

Raymond Lake was popular for fishing on this day, as there were no less than 11 people around the lake with poles in the water.  The one nearest to us caught a 14" Golden Trout while we were there.
Anglers everywhere

The views on the way back, again, were incredibly distracting.  So much open views all along much of this trail.
Heading back

Most of our group making its way up the cutout section of the trail on the east side of Raymond Peak ridge.
On the edge
Members of our group enjoying one last look at the view north, including the pronounced Jeff Davis Peak in the upper right.
One last look

The GPS track of the peak climb from right to left and back. GPS Track of Hike