“This trail leads to the beautiful meadows and lakes of Sky High Valley and on to the Marble Mountain Rim.”
— Lee Watts
Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Wilderness rules apply, but no wilderness permit is required. You do need a fire permit, which is available at any forest office. See the Canyon Creek Trail description for the current state of the access road to Lover's Camp.
Other than the Pacific Crest trail (PCT), the Sky Valley Trail is one of the most popular runs in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. There will be other campers, but it is not too crowded. The Sky Valley Trail branches off from the Canyon Creek Trail about 3/4ths of a mile below the junction with the PCT, just after that trail crosses Canyon Creek (a good resting place).
The first part of the trail climbs about 200 feet under towering conifers until it meets the creek and a signed trail coming down from Little Marble Valley. It then contours around a ridge to reach the bottom of Sky High Valley. The entire valley consists of luxurious green meadows covered with flowers all the way to Sky High Lakes. It is surrounded by craggy cliffs.
The main trail goes directly to Frying Pan Lake, bypassing the two Sky High lakes. You'll probably want to take the short branch trail that runs next to the lakes. The best camping is at Lower Sky High Lake. There is also a good camping spot in the trees next to Frying Pan Lake, only a couple hundred yards from Sky High Lakes. Once the snow has melted, there is no large flow of water into the lakes, so they are cool for swimming, but not icy cold.
From Frying Pan Lake, the trail climbs about 650 feet to reach the PCT on the Marble Mountain Rim. The are good views of Sky High Valley as you climb this trail and great views at the top of the entire ridge containing Marble Mountain, Black Marble Mountain, Box Camp Mountain and the valleys below.
Marble Mountain is one of the most unique and distinctive mountains in California. The name does not apply to one specific summit, but to the entire north-south running ridge, except for Black Marble Mountain. The marble is the exposed white rock. Black Marble Mountain is actually misnamed. The black comes from the schist that overlays the white marble.
Flora & Fauna
Towering conifers on the lower part. Expansive flowery meadows in the middle. Remarkably colorful flowers on the rim. More butterflies near the rim than I've seen anywhere else.