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Baker and Johnson Lakes Trail
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2020-09-19  
mini location map2020-09-19
25 by photographer avatarLindaAnn
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Baker and Johnson Lakes TrailElko, NV
Elko, NV
Hiking avatar Sep 19 2020
LindaAnn
Hiking13.67 Miles 4,342 AEG
Hiking13.67 Miles   8 Hrs   2 Mns   1.83 mph
4,342 ft AEG      35 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Got started around 0610. The parking area was already full, I took one of the last two or three remaining spots. Windy, cloudy, smoky, cooler than yesterday, and even a few raindrops. Decided to do the loop clockwise since, A—I knew the Baker side was less exciting, and B—the Baker side is a steady uphill/downhill and the Johnson side has some up and down and I wanted to get that out of the way first.

From the trailhead, we initially started on the South Fork trail for a short distance, then turned onto Timber Creek trail. The first mile was easy, then suddenly we were going up some steep switchbacks. I lost count of how many. Once we topped out, we were able to catch our breath as the trail leveled off, then headed up to Snake Creek Divide.

At the Divide, the trail turned west, then dropped down to Snake Creek Trail, which continues west towards Johnson Lake. Again, a steep uphill. We passed the old mining remnants, which were neat to see, then finally reached the lake. From there, the trail heads very steeply uphill past more mining remnants, the old tungsten mine, and up towards the saddle. Very steep, but not as bad as some descriptions I had read. Also, the NPS website lied, while the elevation gain from the trailhead to the saddle may be 3290’, your accumulated gain on this loop is actually 3740’.

Took a break at the saddle, where it was very windy, then headed off trail up to Pyramid Peak. It’s exactly another 600’ of gain to the summit of Pyramid. After already doing 3700’, the 600’ felt like nothing. While it was steep talus, it was very easy to find a good path through the rocks, and was probably my favorite section of the entire hike.

Once back down at the saddle, we headed down the other side towards Baker Lake. The trail gets faint in a few places, but there are cairns. At one point, the trail splits and both are cairned. Go left (west) to head towards the lake. Baker Lake was pretty low today, but the mountainous backdrop is quite pretty. From the lake, it’s a steady downhill back to the trailhead. Some parts are boring, but the sections where the trail is next to the creek are enjoyable. About 1.5 miles from the end, the trail splits, and you can stay on Baker to the trailhead, or take South Fork to the trailhead. We opted for Baker, but South Fork probably would have been nicer. After that, Baker trail gets higher on the hillside, and is blah. I think the park service just wanted the tourists to see some cactus, which I could have done without.

Great loop, and adding Pyramid Peak was perfect. I’d definitely do this one again.
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