Burnside Lake Trail is a 12.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Markleeville, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking and is best used from May until October.
This is 5.5 miles one way with about 2.5 miles climbing 2,500 feet (11 miles rounds trip according the signage at the hot springs). The Manzanitas near the top are pretty overgrown, some over my head, so the trail needs some work but we didn't see one person on it (besides up at the lake) and it has stunning views. Most of it is very steep so bring plenty of water - we ended up filling up a bottle in the creek up top and thankfully didn't have any GI issues after it.
So I'm a bay area mountain bike guy that happens to be spending more time in the Hope Valley area.
I'm not the body armor, full-face-helmet rider I sometimes see up here. I was looking for an entry route to evaluate my ability to ride at higher altitudes this was a first choice. It's a good grind, but not that hard, up to the lake from your starting point at the RT88/89 intersection called Pickett Junction. You'll break a sweat but not kill yourself. Many places along the way to gaze out over Hope Valley and mountains to the west. Burnside Lake is small but beautiful and provides cool snow-fed water to take a swim in before starting your adventure back down hill to your starting point. You can also option to deviate up fire-roads and attempt a climb to higher mountains to the east.
Steady climb for 6 miles on dirt road. The road allows motor vehicles, so we ate dust a couple of times. Lake was pretty, nice picnic, camping or fishing spot. Fairly intense aerobic workout.
We went on the single track trail through the meadow beyond the lake. Super bumpy ride in the meadow!
Assuming that this is the trail that begins in the Grover Hot Springs State Park and spirals its way up to Burnside Lake, the trail is well built and not too busy. It is very steep and most people only make it to the falls just outside the campgrounds before meandering back. I was rather disappointed with the hike in terms of final destination. We were new to the area and unaware that the lake is accessible by vehicles.After scrambling our way to the top, we were expecting something of a beautiful lake or a nice viewpoint. Burnside is dusty and crowded with people who accessed the lake from Hope Valle.y. Big let-down. The views are in the ascent so if you Go, make sure that you stop along the way and absorb the scenery instead of rushing to the top. I remember a section of the trail near the top that had a poor creek crossing in early summer, in which I was crossing a wet log and fell in, so be careful in watching for where the correct trail crossing is.