Explore the most popular lake trails in El Dorado National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

great trail! awesome terrain for novices like us. difficult to follow trail in some places. almost no snow left. prepare for some mud.

Amazing

horseback riding
20 days ago

I have ridden my horse on the trail. No problem and a whole lot faster than driving.

The views were great BUT IT IS SO POORLY MARKED!!! We had to use notched trees and stacked rocks to navigate. This is 7.4 miles but we got so off course it needed up being 16! Also, the Ranger isn't on office till August!

There was a lot of snow for late may. But the climb was worth the view on top. I would recommend but definitely get hiking sticks.

backpacking
27 days ago

Conditions as of 5/23/2018: super duper soupy. And are established trails always this poorly marked around here? Or maybe their just more obvious when they’re not flooded. No worries; hard to get truly lost in that area anyhow.

I got good and wet on my way to Sylvia, spent a day drying out and soaking in the beautiful landscape, then decided to summit Pyramid from the West, starting just north of (not next to) Sylvia. That was fun. But FYI the slop starts very early into Lyons from parking. If you’re thinking “maybe it’s just this area; it’ll get better” then you’re very sadly mistaken. The Lyons trail is essentially a babbling brook all the way through. Even the trails side-stepping the regular “trail” were much soggier today than they were on my way in 2 days ago. I was wearing old beat-up Saucony Peregrine trail shoes with microspikes for the summit. My feet were totally soaked and freezing from start to finish every day. lol - somehow, having that whole beautiful place to myself made up for it.

Summary: look elsewhere until things dry out a bit, or just come prepared for ankle-shin deep slogs all the way to the remaining snow pack.

Trail conditions: 5/13/18

Trail is wet and sloppy from melt off with patches of snow below 7,700 ft (full coverage above). There are also a few downed trees blocking the trail.

0-3 miles: Wet and sloppy, with some small patches of snow.
3-4 miles: Larger patches of snow. Easy to lose trail if not paying attention.
4.5 miles: Trail completely covered by snow.

Overall the trail to Sylvia is doable, but the last 2 miles are slow going. Also, make sure to wear waterproof boots!

backpacking
3 months ago

Can feel like one long slog. Best as an overnight backpack. Have used the route to Sylvia several times over the past 20 years as a tuneup for long high altitude climb approaches. Dog poop can be problematic so watch your step.

BEAUTIFUL hike, but let me tell ya, when its covered in snow there are quite a few tricky spots, and we lost the trail a few times. also the lakes are completely snowed and frozen over right now. enough that when I thought I was solid i hit the edge of the creek coming out and managed to fall knee deep in ice water. Definitely beautiful, but maybe wait til snow melts.

hiked back to granite lake which was nice, didn't know there are leeches in the lake. not harmful, just not expected while swimming

camping
6 months ago

Hard! 8 miles 1 way. plan on camping at upper hell hole when going here. be prepared for a lot of up and down stretches. we called them stairways to hell. when you reach the campground it becomes heaven. spent a week here. lake was way low but plenty of fun with the river. recommend boating to upper hell hole not hiking

hiking
6 months ago

This is one of those trails which are are more about the journey than the destination. The lake itself is pretty meh. There are some granite cliffs next to the lake which are fascinating and very Yosemite-esque. I went on 11/26/17. There was a snowstorm the week before but the trail was clear. It is very hard to follow and there was swampy land and some water on the trail. So make sure you wear trail boots and socks. The ice ponds along the trail at this time were fascinating.

I really enjoy camping at Silver Lake and swimming in the nice, cold, crystal clear waters. This time I decided to try out the Thunder Mountain hike. I hiked it on July 8th and there were still large patches of snow I had to hike through making it pretty treacherous at some parts. There were times I was hike along a massive , steep snow patch and was afraid I would slide way down the mountain if I slipped. I also lost track of the trail a few times but luckily found my way back. So, it was a pretty intense hike, especially since it was just me and my dog out there. I only passed one other person the whole time and that was when I was just about to the end. The sense of solitude out there was unreal. But, it was a really cool, but steep, hike with great views all around and I'd like to do it again when there is no snow to trek through.

snowshoeing
7 months ago

Due this trail being so popular and short, I have tried to do this trail in the winter months.
The first time in early 2017 we were unable to complete the trail due to so much snow on the ground and high water.
This time we hit it just right! Headed up right after a storm that dumped snow only above 6000' and maybe 6 to 8" of fresh powder.
I do not suggest attempting this trail when snow is deep. To many areas where avalanches may occur. There is a ton of water on the trail so bring your tall boots.
The scenery was awesome!
Our tracks are a little off due to the snow cover but managed to stay on track better on the back half.

backpacking
7 months ago

We probably got the last backpack of the season continuing past Grouse Lake to Smith Lake for 1 night (very cold and windy night), as we were hiking over snow from 8000' onwards and it began to get thick past Grouse Lake. Still great for hiking though and is well tread so the trail is easy to follow. All uphill so it's good work getting there, but lovely views and the lakes make it well worth it.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice day hike not too far from Sacramento. Easy grade throughout the hike, until just before reaching Lyons Lake. The trail up to the lake is steep but short and the lake was spectacular. We had the trail to ourselves for the entire ten mile out and back in mid week in early October. This trail appears like it would be pretty soupy early in the season, so one probably more enjoyable for most later in the season.

horseback riding
7 months ago

Question: is this trail horse friendly?

hiking
7 months ago

I would rate this trail as fairly easy - not moderate. Trail is a little difficult to follow in spots. A couple of weeks ago would have been better for fall colors. Very nice hike.

Hiked to Grouse and Hemlock yesterday through a light coat of early season snow. The trail was a fun and solid workout, and the views up top were gorgeous.

hiking
8 months ago

Serene alpine lake surrounded by historic cabins on an Autumn weekday.

Challenging trail that never disappoints

This is a pretty vigorous hike to some wonderful lakes. Great if you are looking for a decent workout--not too easy, but not too hard. Smith lake is the final lake and is my personal favorite. It sits high in elevation just at the tree line with some excellent views of the valley below. Very much worth it!

hiking
8 months ago

We would rate this as poorly marked Trail. Even with all trails we got way off course and basically made it up as we went. Beautiful area for kayaking. Wouldn’t hike it again though.

E xxx cellent hike!

nice track! stay to the left of Lyons creek as you approach the saddle.

hiking
8 months ago

Lyons lake was super pretty!

backpacking
8 months ago

A great trail! Took 4 friends and 3 dogs. We found that there was snow everywhere. Breath taking!! Most of the trail is well marked. The log across the stream was snowed over with ice, a bit of a challenge! Once we got to the granite, many of the ducks had been knocked over. Another challenge, but we found our way to the lake. We all had a fantastic time.

Time is running out if you haven't made this hike; as winter approaches trail will most likely close!

off road driving
8 months ago

Excellent trail. Fantastic scenery and lakes you can actually swim in!
Definitely will run it again!

Load More