Trip Report    

Backpacking Building Blocks Student-Only Backpack - Pete Lake

This is a great trip for beginner backpackers due to a shorter length and little elevation gain. There is a huge payoff with beautiful lakeside views and many connecting trails for those wanting extra miles.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
    • Lots of mosquitos so be ready with bug spray and nets. 
    • Water crossings are pretty minimal and have rock hops or logs for crossing. 
    • If you continue past Pete Lake to Spectacle Lake you will run into quite a few logs across the trail. 
    • The bridge across the trail up to the PCT is still out though should be fixed this year.  The first place where the trail crosses the creek is where many people ford.  Where you first step into the creek is the deepest area, so you can easily check the depth and swiftness before committing. 


This is a great trip for beginner backpackers!  This a really popular place due to the shortness/little elevation gain of the trail and huge payoff at the campsites, so I recommend getting there early for a good spot.  The road to the TH is in good shape, there are some potholes as you get close to the TH, but nothing a regular sedan couldn't handle.  

Bug spray and nets are definitely recommended here.  The mosquitos are really aggressive as evening sets in, so be prepared.  There is a very large campsite as you first approach the lake, which is great for a big group.  Other campsites further up the lake may accommodate 3-4 tents, but any more would be pretty snug.  Easy water access at this site as well, and we were able to have meals by the lake, which was a little less buggy than where the tents were set up.


There are several trails off the Pete Lake trail for day hikes if you have a group wanting some extra miles.  My group was determined to see Spectacle Lake, so we arrive at camp early, set up, and did the trek up to Spectacle.  From Pete Lake, it is around 11 miles round trip (1800 ft of gain), so not for the faint of heart.  The bridge across Lemah Creek to the PCT is still out, although it is supposed to be repaired this year.  Overall the crossing is pretty straightforward; just be prepared to walk the extra mile up to the bridge crossing if the creek is too high.  


The hike opens up out of the trees after the creek, so bring your hat and sunscreen.  You'll pass an amazing waterfall to give you a nice misting to cool off before your final ascent over the ridge to the lake.  There are quite a few logs across the trail and small creek crossings, so be prepared for the hike to take a little longer than you might think.  The view of the lake is absolutely stunning and worth it!  This would be a great overnight for a small, experienced group.  


We trekked back and enjoyed a well-earned dinner back at Pete Lake before turning in a little early to get away from mosquitos.  The morning was a leisurely breakfast lakeside and hike back to the cars.