Timber Creek Loop, Baker Lake Trailhead, Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Timber Creek Loop - 5.1 miles
Baker Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.1 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,003' - 9,646' (9,646' max elevation on loop)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,643' net elevation gain (+1,681' total elevation gain)|
Timber Creek Loop - 5.1 Miles Round-Trip
The Timber Creek Trail and South Fork Baker Creek Trail form a 5.1 mile loop in Great Basin National Park. The Timber Creek Trail climbs 1580' in just two miles before leveling into an expansive montane meadow with exceptional views of Pyramid Peak (11,926') and Wheeler Peak (13,063').
This moderate loop is highlighted by diverse, overlapping ecosystems and active wildlife, particularly elk in the high meadow. The following description travels clockwise:
Begin on the S. Fork Trail and hop bridges to the Timber Creek Trail split and start of the loop (.13 miles). The Timber Creek Trail veers left through a gully and rises across open sage and mixed timber to the Pole Canyon Trail split (.65 miles : 8,345').
Travel steepens on tightly wound switchbacks across open sage slopes with good views back east (1.2 miles : 8,910'). It re-enters a thick, cluttered forest and rises steadily until abruptly leveling and emerging in the meadow (2.05 miles : 9,610').
The meadow is ringed by plots of aspen, juniper, pinyon, spruce, fir and limber pine. Minimize your profile and enter the meadow slowly for your best chance to see elk.
Views of Pyramid Peak and the Wheeler Peak massif are striking as you pass through this large, open space to the Baker Lake - South Fork Baker Creek Trail split on the far end (2.35 miles : 9,582').
Turn right on the South Fork, which drops out of the meadow and hops a short bridge to the north bank (2.9 miles : 9,315'). It begins a fast, nondescript descent along the creek to a grassy meadow at the Baker Lake - Baker Creek Trail split (3.7 miles : 8,840').
Here you can extend the loop by following signs (left) for Baker Lake rather than South Fork back to the trailhead. This option adds only .75 miles to the route, and an arguably more scenic return down open slopes.
The South Fork Trail arcs around the meadow and drops just off the spine of a steep ridge lined by manzanita, mahogany, cliffrose and serviceberry. Take a few steps up to the spine for good views of the adjacent Baker Creek drainage to the north (4.2 miles : 8,275').
The rugged path loses 750' in just a mile before moderating through intervals of aspen, sage, pinyon and juniper back to the trailhead to complete the loop (5.1 miles : 8,003').
- N38 58.600 W114 14.736 — 0.0 miles : Baker Lake Trailhead
- N38 58.468 W114 14.762 — .13 miles : Timber Creek Trail split
- N38 58.199 W114 14.796 — .5 miles : Steady climb through meadow and timber
- N38 58.091 W114 14.900 — .65 miles : Pole Canyon Trail split
- N38 57.809 W114 15.177 — 1.0 miles : Steep switchbacks on open slope
- N38 57.745 W114 15.400 — 1.5 miles : Steep climb in timber
- N38 57.345 W114 15.483 — 2.0 miles : Level into large meadow
- N38 57.117 W114 15.688 — 2.35 miles : S. Fork Trail split
- N38 57.395 W114 16.100 — 2.9 miles : Hop bridge on upper creek
- N38 57.829 W114 15.807 — 3.45 miles : Fast descent in thick timber
- N38 58.041 W114 15.770 — 3.72 miles : Baker Lake Trail split
- N38 58.234 W114 15.599 — 4.0 miles : Steep, rocky descent
- N38 58.332 W114 15.111 — 4.6 miles : Moderate in mixed forest
- Anticipate snow through late May - early June at higher elevations, and especially north faces.
- Late spring and early summer blooms are quite good on the Timber Creek Loop. Balsamroot, paintbrush, mertensia and lupine are widely distributed. Aspen and leafy vegetation along the creeks produce brilliant autumn colors.
Camping and Backpacking Information
There are 5 developed campgrounds in Great Basin National Park. Reservations are accepted only at Grey Cliffs, May - September:
- Lower Lehamn Creek Camground | $12 per night | 7,300' | 11 sites
- Upper Lehman Creek Campground | $12 per night | 7,752' | 22 sites
- Weeler Peak Camground | $12 per night | 9,886' | 37 sites
- Baker Creek Camground | $12 per night | 7,530' | 38 sites
- Grey Cliffs Campground | $12 per night | 7,530' | 16 sites
- Snake Creek Campground | No Posted Fee | 7,800' | 12 sites (undeveloped)
No fee or permit is required to backcountry camp in Great Basin National Park, however free registration at trailheads is strongly encouraged for safety.
- Camping is not permitted within 1/4 mile of any road or bristlecone pine grove.
- Campsites must be 100' away from any trail and water source, and 500' away from archeological sites.
- Fires are not permitted above 10,000', including Baker Lake and Johnson Lake. Fires may not be more than 2' wide, must be attended at all times and must be completely extinguished before departure. Stone fire rings are prohibited.
- Bristlecone pine wood may not be used for fires.
- Group size limited to 15 persons and/or 6 pack animals.
- 14 day max stay.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are not permitted on hiking and riding trails in Great Basin National Park.
- There is no fee to enter Great Basin National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
Baker Lake Trailhead is located 8.5 miles from the Highway 488 - 477 junction in Baker.
From the junction, drive 5.0 miles up 488 toward the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to the Baker Creek Campground turnoff. Drive 3.5 miles to the end of the road and trailhead. Drive slowly and watch for marmot. The road is graded dirt and suitable for 2WD.
Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park
Baker, NV 89311
8 AM - 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday
Lehman Cave Tours Ticket Reservations
Click for reservations through Reservations.gov