This short dayhike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a nice alternate route to quiet Mirror Lake, or just a lovely forest hike on a quiet section of a rocky and rooty trail. Be prepared to watch your step in some places during your hike! You could consider it as a first-time backpacking destination, too, since the trail is never particularly steep here.
After parking along FR-9070, find the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail at 3800 feet of elevation and head south. Salmonberry and blueberry bushes line your route. After it leaves the saddle, the Pacific Crest Trail gently gains elevation, then dips to cross the north fork of Cold Creek two tenths of a mile from the trailhead. Enter an alpine forest populated by noble fir, western hemlock, and mountain hemlock. The trail meanders through the forest southward past beargrass, arnica, bluebells, western columbine, foamflower, fireweed, cow parsnip, and milkweed that blossom in the summer. Bumblebees, chipmunks, hummingbirds, and pikas can be seen or heard along this section of the trail. Flies and mosquitoes can be bothersome in the summer months.
After passing under Silver and Tinkham Peaks, the PCT continues south, curving around a basin and through forest, before reaching quiet Mirror Lake 3.5 miles from the trailhead. Mirror Lake is beautiful, with good campsites, though it can fill quickly due to its proximity to the trail. If it's crowded, head a further 0.5 miles taking a left at a junction to Cottonwood Lake.