Back to index Warr Trail to Saxon Creek Loop Hike

Trip Date:  11/04/2016

: 9.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2100'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Warr Trail Route
See video of this hike  See video of hike   Download GPXGPX for this trip

Warr Trail Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 50.312 W 120 01.038     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   Take Highway 50 to Highway 89 south.  Head down approximately 3/4 of a mile to the turnout on the left hand side of the road at the specified coordinates.
Hazards of Note:   Route-finding may be required on some of the Warr trail spots as this is an older, no longer maintained trail.  Be watchful for mountain bikers on the Saxon Creek trail who may not be on the lookout for hikers.

Crowd Factor:   Negligible to moderate.  There will be little to no traffic on the Warr Trail section, as this is a relatively unknown trail.  The Saxon Creek Trail can be very popular with mountain bikers.
General Notes:
From the parking area, there are a couple of trails within sight as you head away from the highway.  The actual start of the Warr Trail is just a little further north near the junction of Highway 89 and Shakori Dr, but there is no parking there for any vehicles.  Finding the correct trail can be a little bit of guesswork, but make sure you get to one which heads uphill almost immediately to the southeast.    The Warr trail follows what looks to have been an old jeep trail for the first 1/4 mile, and then it narrows down to a single track trail quickly after that.  There area a few crossings of other trails on your way up the mountain, but just stay on the trail you have been heading up.  After 2 miles of heading upward at a gradual but steady slope, you will reach an open area with a few meadows, and then over the next 3/4 mile you will have some significant uphill climb on the trail.  Reaching the saddle, follow a use trail to the north toward a rock outcropping and then head to the ones furthest west for a fantastic view of the Crystal Range in Desolation Wilderness across the valley.
Back to the saddle, the trail continues on to the east, and drops down significantly for the next 1/2 mile before you reach the junction with the Saxon Creek trail.  There are a couple of water crossings in the section, but they are small and easy to navigate.  At the junction with the Saxon Creek trail, which is unmarked, head to the left and begin a 3-4 mile journey along what is obviously a well-used bike path.  Be watchful for mountain bikers who may not be on the lookout for hikers moving slower than they are.  There is one good view of Lake Tahoe off to the side of the trail, at a point just about a mile into the Saxon Creek section of the hike.  Past that, the trail is mostly through forest.  The last 1/2 mile before you will turn left on a very slight use trail is filled with stacked logs in burn pile configurations, which seems to go on for a significant amount of time. 
If you reach the housing area with two large green water towers ahead of you, you have probably just missed the turn to the left.  You can either walk along the residential road, or head back a few hundred feet and find the trail which will head west.  Follow this around to the parking area at the start of the hike, some of which will be on the road paralleling Highway 89 in where CalTrans has a large amount of equipment.

There are a number of use trails between the parking area along Highway 89 and the actual Warr Trail, but after a couple of false starts we finally made it to the correct one.  Look early for a jeep trail rather than a single-track trail.
Trail finding

Almost as soon as the trail begins to gain elevation, across the highway are some nice views into the Echo Lakes area, including this one of Becker Peak.
Becker Peak 

Not too far further Mt. Ralston, the highest peak in the center of the picture made an appearance, still dusted with snow from the previous week's storms.
Mt. Ralston 

This is a trail where it is a good idea to turn around and take a look at the views back the way you came from as often as possible.
Forest Trail

To the immediate north of the saddle area of the trail, there are some interesting rock formations which also offer a great view to the west.
Saddle rocks 

A really nice view into Desolation Wilderness from the saddle overlook area, offering a view of Echo Lake I hadn't seen before in my travels.
Desolation Views

A good, unobstructed view of Ralston Peak, where friends of ours were hiking on this same day.  Couldn't see them, however...
A closer look

Even Mt. Tallac got in on the visible peaks from this location, as well as some of the Angora Ridge between it and our location across the way.
Mt. Tallac

Heading down from the saddle on the east side of the ridge, we ran into a surprising amount of snow still on the ground from the week before.  This section had anywhere form 4-6 inches depending on the tree cover.
Backside of the trail

This guy ended up being the only other creature hiking on the trail that we saw today.
Only other trail hiker    

The only place we had a view of Lake Tahoe on the day was about a mile north of the junction on the Saxon Creek Trail.
Lake Tahoe View

For over a half mile there was evidence of a LOT of forest cleanup work in the area.  It had been there for awhile, as well.
Wood work

A somewhat unusual sign in front of the water which was heading down into the housing development a little further below our route.
Water source

Near the end of the hike was another set of interesting rock formations along the side.  A little ways past this is a junction to the left to meet up with a trail which gains 1000' of elevation in a little over a mile to reach another destination overlook in the vicinity.
Rock formation

GPX image of the hike. GPS track of hike