Explore Summer/ Fall - 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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hiking
2 days ago

Wonderful hike that hugs Echo Lake and then ascends to Lake Aloha, which is big and offers many islands to swim to. At the end of summer, I was still able to see snow on the surrounding mountains, and the reflection of the trees and clouds on the crystal clear water was beautiful. Much of the hike is on rocks, so wear sturdy shoes.

hiking
3 days ago

Took the water taxi, so 12 km of hiking on rocky paths from the Upper Echo Lake to the Lake Aloha.
Beautiful Lake Aloha but water level very slow, so didn’t get into the water.
Lake the Woods is awesome and better for swimming for today.

Difficult when hiking up from Lake the Woods back to the Pacific Crest Trail towards Echo Lake, high altitude causing low oxygen, this part will take a longer and certain persons may feel bad (as I did).

Be aware: 50 cents for the public phone for the return boat call.

awesome view

Truly gorgeous with lots of people but enough cool spots to get some alone time if like me you were looking for that. I spent a night at Tamarack Lake midway between the trailhead at Echo Lake and Aloha because I couldn’t get a permit to camp at Aloha on my first night. It was kind of nice that it forced me to go slower and appreciate another lake in the area. But you could easily spend a few days near Aloha. Next time I’ll do Aloha on night 1 and go on to one of the other lakes further up the PCT from there for night 2. I’m no thru hiker and that’s good because I don’t feel compelled to blow through 30 miles of beauty in one day.

hiking
7 days ago

This trail is beautiful and thankfully, outside of being hazy for photos, the smoke was barely noticeable. Definitely plan for a long day hike... what slows you down is the constant rocky terrain. Most of the trail consists of walking on rocks. Bring proper shoes. A lot of exposed area so bring the sunblock. The wildflowers are everywhere and the lakes are stunning! Lake Aloha was a great lunch spot, but pretty windy and made it too chilly for a swim. Got in at Lake of the Woods it was perfect!

Great trail with beautiful lake at the end. Due to time constraints we had to take water taxi both ways. The “drop phone” was not operational and we didn’t have the coins to call the taxi back after arriving back at the dock. Luckily we had one phone with enough bars to call from end of dock. Take 50cents if u want the ride back. Gets hot in exposed parts; bring plenty sunscreen! Great views of Sierra crest at lake aloha.

backpacking
13 days ago

Great trail not too difficult. Awesome place for a chill backpacking weekend

hiking
13 days ago

I stay at Squaw Valley a lot and this is one of my favorite hikes. it’s definitely tricky to follow in the beginning I’ve done this so many times, as well as going off on all the alternate trails, that I have a good sense of it now but it took a while. Key is to always veer to the right when you get to the first sign that says granite chief trail keep following to the right there’s several other trails that intersect that are not real trails just stick to the right and you’ll find it. all trails map helps a lot. once you get in a little over a mile some people have put yellowish orange paint in certain places to mark where the trail goes over the rocks as well as some cains. but again when in doubt follow towards the right and you’ll pick up the trail.
I encourage you to go beyond Granite chief onto the PCT it’s just incredibly beautiful with amazing views. I always take this left over to High camp so I can take the tram down. note if you do this it can be very tricky/scary to get to high camp there’s two options you can climb up the hill straight after you pass tervis cup trail then take the road down to high camp, adds some extra time. or you can veer to the left to take the very very small not well traveled trail but it will require a little bit of rock climbing and scrambling down. not for the faint of heart and actually potential for injury. but I’ve made it OK each time I’ve done it.
once you are at High camp there is a pool there’s also a restaurant there’s lots of outdoor seating and the tram runs down every 15 minutes it’s free if you hike up and tram down.

Such a wonderful hike;) I did this hike middle part of the day so I recommend wearing sunscreen since most part of the hike has no shade and wear a good hiking shoes for the rocky terrain:) I will definitely recommend this hike! Enjoy the scenery!

hiking
19 days ago

Awesome hike but if a novice hiker or out of shape and also plan on doing it as a day hike, plan a very long day.

It is such a beautiful hike, and the meadows were filled with an array of flowers. The lake is just gorgeous and very welcoming for a swim. While heading over to the dam was blessed to see a beaver on the trail too. The trail had a variety of terrain from sandy, rocky, and granite.

this trail was incredible! we were astonished at how many different terrains and environments we encountered on our hike. if you want to walk through meadows, alpine forests, rainforests, deserts, boulder fields, and mountain ridges all in the span of 4 hours, then this is the trail for you.

we hiked up granite chief trail, then hooked up with the pacific crest and walked down to high camp to take the tram down. it was definitely a long hike, especially with the elevation gain, but not overly technical or difficult. if you're okay with a steady uphill and you've got sturdy shoes, it's a really satisfying hike. i would recommend starting out early--we started around 10 and it was already pretty hot (until we got up to the PCT).

a lot of other reviewers mention that the trail is difficult to follow, and in some places i agree--there are a few stretches of boulders where the trail mostly disappears. when in doubt, keep going up the mountain (you'll find the trail again before you get lost) or check the alltrails map. there's great service all the way up and the app's trail is accurate. i would argue that the easiest place to get lost is at the very beginning--if you don't know what to look for, it's very easy to end up on the shirley canyon trail.

overall, this hike was amazing. it had great views and scenery all the way up. if you have enough food and water, you can hike the ridge all the way around the ski basin--the PCT links to a trail that will take you farther up. it's also nice having high camp there to refill water/get food/take the tram (for free!). if i were to recommend one tahoe hike to a visitor, this would be it!

First time hiker.. this was very challenging but we made it all the way to lake aloha for lunch.. best environment for lunch anywhere... My PB&J was delish... Anyway this was very exhausting and well worth it.. the scenery is breath taking, truly God's country or whatever u believe in.... We started out real early and ran into traffic late in the day.. no places for water along the way.. we actually took 10 bottles f9r the 2 of us and ran out just shy of the finish line.. I would also mention if u take a dog with u, get them boots and be considerate, I saw a lot of dogs just exhausted..2 owner's had to carry them back. They were labs, shocking.. anyway if you want a decent challenge for a rookie then this trail is a must try..

great run this morning along the lake with easy elevation gain. Didnt see anybody else on the trail so had this granite lake heaven trail all to myself.

Definitely deserving of the hard rating. Hiking boots are a MUST, seen far too many people wearing tennis shoes which won't have enough grip for the granite faces near the base of the falls. After carefully navigating up the faces and once you enter the talus fields, Take time to visualize a route after each section of the climb, lot better use of your time than having to backtrack to find the right route through the talus fields. Climb over 800 feet of vertical in about a 1/4 mile. Hike evens out at the top of the falls, but all the effort is rewarded by mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. Clocked 8.4 miles, but wondered around Ropi Lake for about two hours before heading back. I've hiked this trail numerous time, so with my knowledge of the routes going up the falls, this hike only takes about 5 hours while spending 2 hours at Ropi Lake. Great Lake to swim and rest on the granite slabs in the sun at.

on Lake Aloha Trail

24 days ago

, v. .

mostly rocky trail. great views of loon lake. saturday afternoon there are lots if backpackers. I probably passed 10 groups in 5 hours loon lake th to spider lake and back. $8 parking fee. nice trail i may go back with a kayak.

hiking
28 days ago

Nice hike with occasional views of the lake. We hiked out 3 mi, then turned back. There is little shade after 3 miles. TH is in the Loon Lake campground. Daily fee is $8, but we were camping in the park so no charge. Lake was a refreshing 75 degrees..Water clear as Donner or Tahoe.

backpacking
30 days ago

Did this hike with 8 month old puppy if your dog is not out side a lot I would suggest shoes for them. The hike is beautiful the lake is so relaxing . But lots of bugs and A TON of traffic. (We went up on a Sunday and down on a Monday). I was disappointed in some of the rudeness o n the trail by some day hikers. If I go back it would be in off season or when snow is on the ground

Nice trail. Well marked. Quiet and lots of wildlife. Longer than stated, our gps clocked 10 miles and we only stepped off trail once.

This is an Absolutely gorgeous hike. Fun scrambling up and down. It was very quiet and peaceful at Ropi lake.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trek today. Up and back in four hours. Stopped several times to talk with other hikers.

Have done this hike about a dozen times. Found it easiest to stay closer to the falls when scrambling up to Avalanche Lake. Look for the heavy brush area once you're at the top of the main fall and remember that trail that goes through it on your way back! I see a lot of people miss it and stick too close the water, hit a dead end and have to hike back up. Personal opinion is don't bring a dog if you're going this route up to the lakes.

backpacking
1 month ago

This hike is beautiful! If you are an avid hiker you will not find it hard, as it’s quite flat. You do need some fancy footwork as the path is mostly pebbled granite rock. My boyfriend and I did this hike with our 7 month old GSD. If you have a pet with sensitive paws, you might want to consider dog booties. We spent the night at lake aloha
and it was glorious! The rangers walk along the path and check permits so make sure to take the time to get one beforehand.

hiking
1 month ago

July 2018: I wish I had listened to the reviews! The hike starts in beautiful terrain but beware, this Granite Chief Trail is very very poorly marked. There’s a sign at the beginning, and then no markers whatsoever. This isn’t a problem in the wooded areas, where you can lose and find the trail in a few minutes, but it’s really problematic when you are scrambling over granite boulders, which start about 45 minutes in. I gave up and crossed over to the Shirley Lake Canyon trail. I’m a very experienced hiker and had never been in this area before, and this was incredibly frustrating. I don’t recommend this trail unless you are with someone familiar with it.

trail running
1 month ago

Shaded and well marked 10+ mile trail run. Super fun and not too technical. Loved being in the trees.

hiking
1 month ago

Truly beautiful. Started at Echo Lake to Aloha Lake. The view at Aloha Lake is amazing and jumping into the water was refreshing.

Note: if you have a k-9 please be mindful of their paws. The granite rock will do a number of their paws (saw a couple of dogs having to be carried back).

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike into the Donner/Castle Peak high country. Beautiful open meadows and views of Granite Chief to the south.Once up at the saddle between the overlook and Castle Peak you are presented with unspoiled Sierra back country. The view of Frog lake is a nice resting area. On my way back down I noticed a single track moving toward Castle peak and decided to try and link up to the traditional Castle Peak trail via this route. The track was hard to follow once in the forest but did take to the base of the peak. Could not find a solid route to Castle Peak Proper but it added a few more miles and more beautiful views. A+

Awesome completely picturesque hike — tons of scenery and views. I love the start from campground on south side of 80. Frog lake overlook is stunning! (Trail signs don’t say Frog Lake — they say summit and warren). Only ding is noise from 80 as a distant backdrop — but still a solid 5-Star review.

I linked up with Castle Peak. As others have said, the trail across the ridge is not easy to follow starting about halfway (no big deal because there’s the ridge-line and the terrain is easy) — but then it disappears at the big rocky step up to the plateau on which the 3 towers sit. That part is absolutely sketchy and dangerous due to scrabbly rock on steep slopes — and no discernible trail. Worse, several bits look “trail-like” that lead to exposed moves which lead to dead ends — and backtracking those same exposed moves.

I eventually cleared the first bit (30 mins hunting around, contemplating risky moves, considering going back), then climbed down and under the second set of cliffs and then regained the path by scrambling up through a broad chute. Either go with someone who knows this section or be prepared for a challenge.

COULD ONE OF THE TRAIL ASSOCIATIONS PLEASE MARK THIS SECTION BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT?

After that — smooth sailing. Great little climbs up the towers (the east tower is climbable on east face (exposed class 4 for 50 feet). Middle tower easily climbed from the center as you face from the south. Great views, exhilarating drops on the back side.

Hike down is OK - good views but sun-exposed and loose footling at places near the top.

The most beautiful flowers variety I have seen.

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