Explore Backpacking - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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The popularity of this trail has completely destroyed the area, there's poop everywhere along the trail & around the campsites. This place has transformed into a rocky mountain national park or emerald bay of tahoe lake situation. Aholes that don't respect anything go & pollute so the forest service now requires reservations to camp in the middle of the wilderness. Thanks people!! Crappy fake casual outdoors people ruined it for absolutely everyone, great job!!!!

hiking
18 hours ago

great little hike. the snow was so packed it was pretty treacherous! I slid down the ice more than a few times. still completely worth it! too bad there's no fishing in the lake :P. the trail was pretty packed with other hikers but that made it easier to take our time.

What an adventure! This trail was 9.6 miles to and from the hot springs so 19.2 miles round trip according to my iPhone health app. It was very muddy and there was lots of snow especially the higher up you go so make sure to bring reliable warming and waterproof gear. The trail was really easy to follow and the bridges were fun to cross (3 bridges total) but the altitude is something to watch out for going up. It’s true what everyone say the hike down is a cake walk. It took us 6-7 hours to get up and 4 hours to get down.

hiking
3 days ago

Easy trail to a really pretty waterfall. Hiked it on a Thursday (10/18) and only saw a handful of other people. Took about 3 1/2 hours but we stopped and took pictures several times and hiked down and ate lunch on the rocks right beside the waterfall. If you want to take a fairly easy walk, this is a good one. Not much elevation gain and trail was very easy to follow.

Nice short stroll worth doing after you wear yourself out on the more challenging hikes in the area. Beautiful lake. The kids enjoyed running from marker to marker along the trail.

Nice warmup for the other trails at this trailhead. Easy walk around the lake, quite busy.

Simple, Easy, trail for anyone to do!
Peaceful views on the lake.

Loved the winter wonderland walk today, everything was snow covered. I'd recommend Microspikes for the boots, but you can easily do it without.

A most wonderful hike, and a loop so no retracing. Magnificent view of the lake at the trailhead. Parking can be an issue on summer weekends. There are moose around, and they can be dangerous, but generally no problem other than the pleasure seeing them. The trail on the sunny side is wider and easier, but the darker and narrower other side is enchanting. Not difficult, but a few logs to cross over streams. Take water particularly in summer and keep dogs leashed because of moose.

[See my photos marked "October 12, 2018"]
Idled on road for 20 minutes waiting to get into parking lot. VERY crowded today. Five stars is for restroom facilities, trailhead area, and railing on trail. Unfortunately the trail itself was so slick with ice that we didn't make it to the lake. One member of our party slipped and fell almost immediately on the trail, so we turned around and went back to our car. Trekking poles and/or Yaktrax (microspikes, not chain) would help immeasurably on this trail under the current conditions. It might not be so bad at noontime when the top layer is softened up a bit. Our attempt was at 5 p.m. and the trail was iced over.

Trail is not closed, I did a solo over night hike here 10/6/18 -10/7/18. Hiked 8.5 mimes in from brookside/ Payne Creek trailhead. A couple miles in there is a junction, go left (Payne Gulch). Pretty trail. Not too difficult. Found a spot to hike alongside the Creek. Only saw two other guys on the trail. I just moved here from St. Louis MO, with no real hiking/back packing experience and did fine.

Amazing views, worth every step.

hiking
15 days ago

Hike offered deep woods trail and nice views of the Monarch Lake. Went very early in the morning but barely saw any birds or other wild animals. Great trail for exercise.

hiking
16 days ago

My wife & I arrived from MD yesterday and had not fully acclimated to the +8000’ altitude change, but did not want to waste the good weather. This 4.2 mi loop was perfect. Great views and enough elevation change to make it fun without over taxing our sea level lungs.

This trail is a must do. We camped at the unnamed lake below parika lake and then near the junction to Bowen lake. Would rate as strenuous, and there is a lot of exposure on the ridge lines past parika lake. We had wind gusts of probably 60 mph or so. We took our rain flies off our packs, because they were acting like parachutes and sometimes the wind was so strong you had to stop before you could move again. Definitely worth it though. Vertical drop offs on the ridge are more gradual than straight down, so not bad IMHO, and I’m not a heights fan! The views at the peak of 12300 feet or so are absolutely breathtaking.

Great views. Easy hike. Worth the effort to find parking.

Beautiful hike! The hike was actually 18.5 miles round trip from the parking lot to the springs. One of the most breathtaking hikes I’ve been on. People aren’t very considerate of others presence; we had a large group of 5 men and 1 woman all get completely naked and get in the springs while there were others in it. Do everyone a favor and pack a swimsuit and towel, because no one wants to see you naked in the springs while trying to relax. Only thing that put a damper on this otherwise beautiful hike!

Harder than we thought for kids, but we did it!

Fantastic hike, exhausting but totally worth it. We got lucky and saw 4 moose at the lake. Also Aspens along the trail were gorgeous and the views of Grand lake were really pretty. It took us 4 hours to get to the lake and about 2 and change to come down. Highly recommend during fall season (we hiked this at the end of September)

Absolutely stunning and worth every step! Took us 4 hours to get up with our packs and 3 hours to get down. The springs were beautiful and the sunrise was amazing! Definitely possible to do it as a day hike but do yourself a favor and reserve a campsite!

hiking
22 days ago

Like hiking around the lake has some great views.

Short off road ride to the mouth of the trail. Was a nice sneaky road to the trail. We took our stock Jeep Wrangler to the mouth of the trail with no problem.

Went up to Cascade Falls and around Monarch Lake. Beautiful trail, especially if you love horse poop! I clean up after my dogs!! Dodged more horse poop than rocks but otherwise well worth it.

hiking
24 days ago

This was a nice little walk around the lake. Quite the windy road to the trailhead. I was surprised at the amount of parking available at the trailhead. That being said, it is a very popular hike, and they even have to offer shuttle services during the day due to parking limitations. The path is very well maintained. Offered some great views!

The spring and scenery are worth the challenging climb. I was surprised that I finished it, coming from New Orleans at sea level. Make sure to bring extremely warm clothes, because we did freeze our butts off at night (late September)

My 12 year old daughter and I did this in 8 hours. Be aware of switch backs and stairs! beautiful and rewarding.

Went yesterday & today. I camped at Lost Lake last night. About 2 miles in from where you park. Woke up this morning to about 22 degrees. And it had rained just a bit last night. Ran into a bunch of people on the trail as I was heading to set up camp who saw moose.

So I went clockwise. This was the right choice for me as the climb is more gradual (and I just got off a plane from Florida yesterday :)

Was gonna camp one more night (tonight) at Jasper Lake but....it was gonna be 20. And was only 5.3 miles to the car at that point. So I humped all 15 today w my 25lb pack.

And - I’m sitting at the noodle restaurant now haha. Yes, delicious.

We hiked this trail 2 days ago, it took us 6 hours round trip. Beautiful scenery, good elevation, light traffic and Lone lake was beautiful, worth the distance. We saw a female Moose and was able to video tape ( a bit to close for me) she was on our trail. Best hiking trail we visited!

Got pushed off Hessie this week due to parking space, so came back to brainard area. Always solid hiking. Completed the Waldrop, long lake, brainard winter loop circuit with the usual team. Great weather and trails are usually free from crowding regardless of number of cars in the lot. Will return to do other loops at other times

If you are planning to complete the loop in a day , I would recommend start early. If you are not acclimated to the high altitude then it is a lot harder then it seems. Take plenty of breaks and drink a lot of water.

hiking
29 days ago

Just did this Sunday 9/23/18. Good hike with kids 9 and 13 y/o. A few steeper parts but nothing too rugged. Have plenty of snacks and water. West Portal Road has a small stretched that is closed for bridge repair. You have to drive past the initial road closure signs to access the road to the trailhead. There are two parking lots, the smaller one being the first and the one where you access the trail. The larger one is very close and just beyond the first.

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