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.
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