Take interesting and eye-popping geology, mix it with a popurri of prolific flowers, and you might just think you’re living in a dream.
This is the iconic Marble Valley photo, an area considered to be the heart of the Marble Mountain Wilderness.
While there are several trailheads used to access the Marbles, Lovers Camp is by far the most popular and accessible, and the one I used this trip. This is first large chunk of marble visible prior to reaching the cabin.
Word of caution about the Lovers Camp trailhead . . . be sure to check out the profile, it’s about a 5-mile ascent to Marble Valley. Most is gentle climbing through shaded forest with plentiful streams on well-maintained trail. BUT, there’s one small steep section that can either be called “The Stairway to Heaven” or “The Marble Stair Hellmaster.” There are about 400 steps!
White and Black Marble Mountains dominate the views.
Upper and Lower Sky High Lakes, Frying Pan Lake, Sky High Valley, and the Marble Mountain Range.
Shadow Lake sits on a shelf high above the Sky High Valley. Tips: There are a limited number of tent sites and they are mostly on hardpan, so be prepared with a free-standing tent or to camp under the stars, and have a Plan B option in case the sites are all occupied. Sky High Lakes or Summit Lake are good options.
Shadow Lake Tip: There are two trails off the PCT leading into the lake. The one nearest the Sky High Lakes trails is better maintained and maybe a little less steep, than the one nearer the Summit Lake trail.
A view of Cliff Lake from the PCT. It can be accessed from the Shackleford Trail which also provides access to Summit and Campbell Lakes.
The PCT passes very near Man Eaten Lake and I’m sure tempts many thru hikers, however, the steep scree descent dissuades most from touching the waters.
Man Eaten Lake. Such an interesting name, I can’t help but wonder how many men have been eaten? and by what? the newts perhaps?
The turquoise-colored water of Man Eaten Lake is among the clearest I’ve ever seen. It definitely invites a swim but at 112 feet deep, it retains it’s icy temperatures well into the summer.
I could have sat here at Man Eaten Lake all day!
The Marble Rim is a worthy place to explore. There are two trails that provide access, both intersect the PCT. Between the two white mountains is what’s known as “The Gap” accessed via the Marble Gap trail. The other is the Marble Rim trail. Both provide exceptional views.
A better view of the gap.
The Marble Rim trail initially takes you to the end of the bald area at the far end of this photo. It continues further around the rim, but on this date I did not have time to hike that section.
A peek over the Marble Rim down into Rainy Valley.
Left side of the rim.
Right side of the rim.
The back view of the White Marble Mountains.
Couldn’t resist sitting on the edge of the rim.
Typically the best time for experiencing the prolific explosion of wildflowers in the Marbles is late July. During that time the trails and meadows are an overgrown jumble of reds, yellows, whites, blues, pinks . . . The bees are buzzing, the humidity becomes a bit stifling and even a flower lover like me, might cry “uncle.” I’ve never seen such a mass of wildflowers especially in such ginormous proportions, taller than me in many cases. But with it being mid June, things were a bit more tame although still far superior to most anywhere else I’ve ever been.
Link to more blog posts in the Marble Mountain Wilderness