Central California: Ebbetts Pass to Nobel Lake

Justin Kooyman is the PCTA’s regional representative in the Northern Sierra. He lives in the small town of Portola, California.
Favorite Trail Food: If backpacking, backcountry pizza!

Walking the PCT from Ebbetts Pass south to Nobel Lake is one of my favorite day hikes. It’s also a superb short backpacking trip.

Trail description:

ebbetts pass hwy 4 ge

Heading south of Ebbetts Pass, the trail affords hikers and equestrians excellent views of the volcanic geology that dominates and surrounds this section of the PCT (unlike the granite dominated landscape in the Southern Sierra or north near Lake Tahoe). As the trail climbs above the Nobel Creek drainage, it is located on and switchbacks up a ridge that affords excellent views to the north. To add to the excitement, some lengths of trail are on steep side-hill sections, users some exposure and a sense of height. If one is backpacking, camping can be found near Nobel Lake. In the early season, water can be found at multiple seasonal drainages just south of Ebbetts Pass. Year round, water can be found where the PCT crosses Nobel Creek and at Nobel Lake. For the traveler who wishes to attain even more views, head approximately 1 mile south up to the unnamed pass just below Tryon Peak. From there, spectacular 360 degree views are breathtaking.


Distance: An eight-mile loop to and from Nobel Lake

Trailhead driving directions: From Stockton, Calif. head east on California Highway 4 to Ebbetts Pass. The PCT trailhead is just on the east side of the pass on the south side of the highway.

Agency jurisdiction: Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Carson Ranger District

Permits: Not required

Special regulations: None

Region: Northern Sierra


More Wild Hikes
By Jack Haskel
I’m a Californian, but if I had to name a single stretch of Oregon’s ...
By Anitra Kass
Take a day and walk this well-graded four-mile climb on the PCT to the Mount Bad...
By Dana Hendric...
I love this hike for several reasons. It’s accessible most of the year because i...
By Bob Woods
There is a reason it’s called Crown Point. It is certainly one of many jewels al...
By Ian Nelson
Take a trip up to the Klamath Range for this jewel of a hike into a family friendl...