California Hiking Klamath Mountains Marble Mountains Trip report

Marble Mountains Wilderness Day 3 – Paradise Lake to Sky High Lakes

After being serenaded all night by the frogs around Paradise Lake we woke to the sounds of happy birds singing at the morning’s first light. I got out the tent and wandered around for a bit spotting a doe near the meadow full of shooting star flowers. It was still too dark to get a picture so I just watched her nibble at the plants as she walked north along the PCT.

As the sun light began to reach Kings Castle we heard a loud bird calling from behind our campsite. It turned out to be a mountain quail, a bird I had only seen in pictures. It was still too dark to get a clear picture of him.


We had originally planned on continuing north along the PCT then going down to either Bear or Tuck Lake but after hiking over 15 miles on the previous day and being pretty wiped out by the heat and cumulative elevation gain we decided we were going to see enough lakes during our trip. After breakfast we packed up and headed south on the PCT retracing our steps back to the Marble Valley Shelter. It was shaping up to be a hot day and we were already feeling the effects of the heat when we reached Box Rock Camp. We took a break there before continuing. At the shelter we took yet another break then set off on the Canyon Creek Trail before following a pointer for the Sky High Lakes.

We continued toward the Sky High Lakes for almost 2 miles passing small Gate Lake and entering the meadows of Sky High Valley.






We spotted the Sky High Shelter along the way which we would visit later after finding a camp site.


It was humid in the meadows which added to the heat from being exposed to the Sun and we were anxious to get our packs off. The first lake we arrived at was Lower Sky High Lake.


We followed the trail along the lake passing one possible camp site and another that was occupied.

Next up was Upper Sky High Lake. There weren’t any sites along this lake but there were some nice trout, some newts, and a duck in the lake.


The final lake in the valley was Frying Pan Lake (named after its shape).

The smallest of the lakes this one was swarming with dragon flies.

We found a spot for our tent on a small hill east of the lake.


We had camp set up before 11:30am and spent the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the area around the lakes. There weren’t many mosquitoes to speak of except for in the thicker stands of trees so we were able to really enjoy the scenery and wildlife.

Yellow-rumped warbler



Grand collomia

Mariposa lilies

Western tanager

Sky High Shelter

Black Marble Mountain from the Sky High Shelter

Fish in the outlet creek of Lower Sky High Lake

Newts in the outlet creek

Bog orchids


Dragon flies near Frying Pan Lake



Shooting stars along Frying Pan Lake

The afternoon turned out to be the cloudiest it would be during our whole trip.

We turned in that night well rested and looking forward to a day of hiking without our full packs on Thursday. It was quiet that night and we were awoken by the sound of something running nearby our campsite and a little later I heard something splash into Frying Pan Lake and move around in the water for a bit. Finally a frog began to croak and a few others joined in helping me fall back asleep. Happy Trails!


2 replies on “Marble Mountains Wilderness Day 3 – Paradise Lake to Sky High Lakes”

Thank you! What a beautiful trip and pictures! My first backpacking trip was to those lakes when I was 14, we left Christmas day for 4 days! It was a lot different looking then with all the snow. I’m actually trying to organize a trip to them right now when I saw your post!!!!

Thanks for the pics and commentary. This really brought me back on a vivid memory trip. I volunteered on a trail maintenance crew in 1998 and we spent most of our summer in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. Marble Valley and Sky High Lakes are special places. I have such wonderful memories “spiking out” there for the week to work surrounding trails. We would always take a swim in one of the lakes when the day was over. There’s nothing like cooling off in a wilderness alpine lake and drinking from a spring gushing out of the mountainside. Truly an amazing place.

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