The Nipple, Blue Lakes CA

• 4-star hike
• 6.2 mile out & back
• Medium difficulty | Gain 1,230 ft (Peak 9,342ft)
• Markleeville, CA | Lake Tahoe
• Driving Directions: Trailhead

Pointy mountain summit with a bulbous volcanic peak
Well? What else would you call it?

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Not the first atanomically named mountain peak we're sure, but The Nipple is definitely a standout and a memorable trek in the Humboldt-Toiyaboe National Forest south of Lake Tahoe.

The quickest way to steal second base on this mountain is to journey up the famed Pacific Crest Trail from its intersection with Blue Lakes Road. Initially weaving through light evergreen forest, you'll gain only 400 feet of elevation for each mile, making this gradual hill climb a modest one. Views open up pretty quickly along the trail with rocky Sierra Nevada peaks as far as the eye can see, alpine wildflowers in summer, and lakes on both sides of the ridgeline.

The spur trail off the PCT that leads to the mountain's summit is located after you've passed the peak. Our map should help you locate it, particularly as on this desolated summit a defined trail can be difficult to find at times. There are some small rock scrambles required to reach the summit, including a final fumble if you want to reach the very top. While you're up there, why not add something to the "nipple thoughts" register?

red icon The Nipple Expand Map

red icon The Nipple 4★
6.2 mi, Out & Back, Medium, Gain 1,230 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

This trail is popular with campers from the Lower Blue Lake Campground managed by PG&E as the peak is prominently visible from the lakeside camp sites. We hiked this trail while staying at Lower Blue Lake campground and converted it into a 10 mile loop route, however we wouldn't recommend it as this option requires over three miles of pavement pounding through the campgrounds of Upper and Lower Blue Lakes. The out-and-back route is shorter and offers better views both ways.

You can often find packed snow near the summit well into summer but at that time of year it's unlikely to cause any issues for hikers. Blue Lakes road is not accessible in winter months. Check the closure status from Alpine County's website to find out whether you can drive to the trailhead.

A small blue lake cradled by mountains. Small patches of snow.
Lost Lake to the North, as viewed this hike's summit.

left: an orange hard dirt trail curving around the mountain side. right: a ammo cannister with the words 'nipple thoughts' etched in white
Hardpacked, well-defined trail. | What are your Nipple thoughts?

lake reflecting nearby rocks and tree stump, but also distant mountains, including the nipple peak to the right
Camping at Lower Blue Lake with The Nipple above.

• Trail Links: Public Map at AllTrails

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