Sword Lake is one of the many natural, alpine lakes nestled in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness in the Stanislaus National Forest. Sword lake is a popular destination for hikers and backpackers because of the short 2.5 mile hike from the County Line Trailhead and excellent swimming opportunities. It’s a moderate level, five mile in and out hike and is easily done in one afternoon although you will want to allow more time for exploring the lake shores, swimming or just lounging in the sun. The elevation at Sword Lake is around 6,800 feet with a maximum and minimum elevation of 7,300 and 6,700 (respectively) along the hike. The best time to visit Sword Lake is in the summer if you plan to go swimming or in the fall when the tourist season has died down and the sparsley scattered aspens are strarting to change color. Camping is allowed here except for certain, signed restoration areas and although you may encounter many other campers, the lake and surrounding area is large enough to accomodate eveyone.
As a bonus for your hiking efforts, if you continue on past Sword Lake for a few hundred yards you’ll come to Lost Lake which is equally as beautiful. And for the more adventurous, a couple of miles further is Spicer Reservoir which is deceiving further than it appears because of it’s size.
To reach the County Line Trailhead drive 25 miles on hwy 108 past Pinecrest and turn left on to Clark Fork Rd (FR 7N83). After the second bridge turn left on to Fence Creek Rd (FR 6N06) and drive 6.5 miles where the dirt road ends where there is planty of parking. This road is dirt most of the way with pot holes and protruding rocks but is traversable by most 2wd vehicles with some caution.
Since this is a designated wilderness, a forest service permit is required for overnight camping but for day use a permit is not required. Permits can be obtained from the Summit Ranger District in Pinecrest (209) 965-3434.