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blue Terrace, Shadow, and Cliff Lakes Trail


3.6 mile 5.8 kilometer point to point
86% Runnable


Ascent: 1,256' 383 m
Descent: -9' -3 m
High: 7,913' 2,412 m
Low: 6,667' 2,032 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by Joan Pendleton


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Pretty trail climbing through fir forests and meadows while passing jewel-like lakes with views of snowy peaks.

Joan Pendleton

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail can be found along the road a few hundred yards northwest of the Summit Lake Trailhead parking area. The trail starts off in the fir forest. Although the firs are thick here, there is not much underbrush—just mostly grasses and some wildflowers.

After about a half mile, the trail steepens over the next half mile. As the trail climbs, the trees thin and views of snowy Lassen Peak to the west and Hat Mountain to the northeast appear. Here, the groundcover changes to a green carpet of low-growing manzanita.

At about the one mile mark, the climb eases, however the trail is still a gradual uphill. A few streams are crossed over the next mile. Each stream has grassy banks and a lush grassy meadow around it (in June). As altitude is gained, these meadows become larger. Through the breaks in the trees, a snowy ridge to the south can be seen. This is Reading Peak.

Cliff Lake Spur is reached at the 2.2 mile mark. A short side trip on Cliff Lake Spur leads to beautiful Cliff Lake nestled at the foot of Reading Peak. Passing Cliff Lake Spur, the trail continues climbing gradually, as it runs through low-growing grass with many firs. Shadow Lake is reached at the 2.8 mile mark, and the trail runs along its shoreline for the next 0.3 miles. At the far end of Shadow Lake the trail climbs up and over a small ridge to find Terrace Lake, a smaller beautiful blue-green lake in a pretty setting surrounded by a small cliff, rocks and beautiful firs.

The Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail ends after 3.7 miles at Paradise Meadows Trail. If one doesn't mind some road running, a beautiful run from the Summit Lake Trailhead parking area is this Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes Trail, Paradise Meadows Trail heading northeast (a right turn onto it), and then about 2.5 miles on the road back to the trailhead parking area.

Flora & Fauna

Deer, fir forests, manzanita ground cover dotted with firs as the trail climbs, and lush grassy meadows surrounding streams can all be found here. Butterflies and wildflowers can also be seen, especially lupine in June.

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