Back to index The Nipple & Lost Lakes Hike
Trip Date:  07/11/2014

: 11.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1300'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
The Nipple and Lost Lakes Route
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The Nipple & Lost Lakes Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 37.480  W 119 54.537     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 88 to Blue Lakes Road.  Drive about 8 miles on this paved part of Blue Lakes road and park at the coordinates where the road has a turnout area.  The coordinates listed are for the actual PCT trailhead, and we found a good parking spot across the road about 200 feet to the south.
Hazards of Note:   Significant elevation gain on the road up from the parking area.  
The final ascent along the PCT on the west side of the Nipple and then up to the top is very dry, unshaded and filled with volcanic scree.

Crowd Factor:   Minimal on the PCT.  We enountered a PCT thru-hiker and one trail runner on the way to the Nipple, and there was nobody else at Lost Lakes.  When you drop down into Blue Lakes to finish the loop along the road, the area was very busy with many summer campers out.
General Notes:
From the parking area on the road, we crossed over the two-lane highway and started up the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) immediately.  This is a well-cared for trail, and it is easy to follow and the initial mile or so takes you through a shaded forest area with many wildflowers about.  As you start to head north at about the 2 mile mark, the trees thin out until you leave them behind and have a few long switchbacks up the volcanic scree on the west side of the peak.  We ended up actually passing the peak of The Nipple on the trail, and then taking a lightly marked use trail up to the top of the Nipple, staying just on the west side of the crest most of the way.
Back on the PCT, we dropped down into the south part of the first Lost Lake that is visible, and found a nice place for lunch at the very south end of the lake.  Follow the lake around its eastern edge and check out the amazing views of Hope Valley from a rise just east of the lakes.  To get onto the forest road that will drop down into the Blue Lakes area, hike between the two lost lakes, find a use trail around the west edge of the second lake, and the road is at the north end of this lake.  Follow it down and hike along the main dirt road for the two Blue Lakes until you reach the entrance, and then follow Blue Lakes road for about one mile back to your car.

Views south toward Raymond and Reynolds peaks from early along the PCT. Views from the early PCT
Gail hiking along an early section of the PCT. Gail on the PCT 
A look up at the Nipple peak from along the dryer part of the Pacific Crest trail. Early look at the Nipple
Pretty amazing wildflowers (Sky Pilot Flowers) are abundant even in the dryest parts of the mountain. Wildflowers
Gail continuing the climb up the trail, with Raymond Peak the tallest mountain seen off in the distance. Gail continuing the climb up the trail
Mark heading up this very scenic section of the PCT as well. Mark heading up as well
Looking down through a crack in the rocks near the summit at part of Hope Valley far below. Window down to the valley
Our first view of South Blue Lake far below us as we neared the summit of The Nipple. First glimpse of South Blue Lake far below.
Lost Lakes a little to the north of The Nipple, with the back of Round Top Mountain visible in the distance. Lost Lakes
Greg at the summit block looking for a pen to sign the cache. The actual summit
The humorously named summit register at the very top of the peak. Summit Register
Mark just below the summit with Greg signing the log at the top. Mark below with Greg above
All three of us at the peak. Summitteers
Blazing stars, more of the amazingly diverse wildflowers we came across very near the summit. More amazing wildflowers
Back on a narrow stretch of the PCT with pretty significant drop-offs just to the side of us. Back on the PCT
A great spot for lunch at the very south end of East Lost Lake. Lunch at Lost Lake
Looking up past Lost Lake at Round Top, the place I first spotted these lakes from years past. Lost Lake and Round Top
Looking north up the ever-spectacular Hope Valley with Freel Peak far off in the distance. Hope Valley 
Looking back at West Lost Lake before picking up the forest service road back down to Blue Lakes. West Lost Lake
Myself enjoying some of the great views we had in all directions. Enjoying the view
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike