Route: Summit Trail (South Warner Wilderness, CA)

Submitted by Aria Zoner on Thu, 10/15/2020 - 05:23pm
California, US
22.7 mi
Vertical Gain
3,636 ft

Here's your chance at an isolated journey along a portion of the true Pacific Crest that the Pacific Crest Trail misses. Located in extreme north-eastern California, the Summit Trail explores from end to end the South Warner Wilderness, traveling 22.7 miles from Pepperdine Trailhead to Patterson Trailhead.

The Route:

Summit Trail travels along a narrow escarpment which is the result of fault blocking that has since been heavily eroded by wind, water, and previous glaciation creating a uniquely beautiful landscape. While water flowing from the western side of the crest drains into the Sacramento River "the largest river within the state of California by flow, length, and drainage area" water flowing from the eastern side is doomed to Nevada's Great Basin.

Wind, along with seasonal snow and mud could be issues, however navigating the route shouldn't be. Summit Trail is well-defined and all junctions are marked with signs. Free camping is available at either end and there's also no shortage of nice sites along the trail, should the need arise. Year round water is encountered at Patterson Lake, at 4 streams below Eagle Peak, and at a final spring 0.2m before reaching Patterson Trailhead.

This route can be completed in either direction.

Strava Segment: Summit Trail


On October 16th, 2021 I took a swing at the 1-way FKT from Pepperdine to Patterson Campground via Summit Trail. I came up way short on the time goal, but gained some big trail experience & took in some amazing views. This site & these names on this list definitely motivated me to take on this effort. Thank you!! I’ll be back;)