Bear Lake and Grouse Lake via Emigrant Wilderness Loop

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Stanislaus National Forest

Bear Lake and Grouse Lake via Emigrant Wilderness Loop is a 13.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length13.8 miElevation gain2,047 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashBackpackingCampingHikingNature tripsForestLake
Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (30)
Photos (496)
Activities (20)
Completed (164)
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Mirjam Sax
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Hiking

Dayhike: started at Crabtree TH, the first 2-3 miles are on a very dusty not very exciting path but it gets so much better once closer to Grouse Lake which is a really beautiful lake. on to Lily Lake for lunch, crossing over the meadow was a bit tricky as we lost the trail but managed to find it back westwards. Lily Lake is another superb spot, the trail gets nicer and much less dusty. Decided to detour to Bear Lake which was a busy spot with many ppl swimming and hanging out. quite a few campers it seems. stopped for a pic at Camp Lake, equally pretty and less busy than Bear Lake. We saw most people on the last stretch from Bear Lake back to TH. no one in first 8 miles. the last stretch back to TH was dull. overall time incl 30min lunch break and photo stops 7 ish hours.

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sheuneen ta
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Hiking
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Lisa Hogan
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Backpacking

Great trip, loved the cows at Grouse Lake.

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Jennifer Chow
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BackpackingBugs

3 day 2 night Trip Crabtree to groundhog meadow: - roughly 6 miles, steep climb near the end (rock trail) - the buggiest campsite (got over 40 mosquito bites, but I’m prone to them) Groundhog meadow to bear lake: - roughly 4 miles, half shade and half exposed - good amount of switchbacks; pretty lake at the top that made it worth it - beautiful lake with lots of jumping rocks and you can swim to the island Bear lake to Crabtree: - less than 4 miles - easiest leg, mostly shade Mostly dirt trails with lots of horse dropping!!!

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Johnny Hoover
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 2, 2020
HikingBlowdownBugsRocky

I hope you like mosquitoes and because because they ate everywhere. The trail itself is pretty easy to follow. Even slathered in deet didn't repel them.

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Dana Burd
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BackpackingBugs

bring mosquito netting.

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Ilia Glazkov
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HikingBridge outBugs
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Anne Kelley
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Hiking

We hiked with our two dogs from Crabtree past Grouse Lake to Piute Creek, where we turned around and came back. So the "lower" half of the loop. There were several trees fallen over the trail that we had to go over, under, or around, but it was no problem getting through. Lily Creek was about knee-deep and easily wadable, and Piute Creek looked similar but we didn't cross it. The mosquitoes have just started to hatch, and were present in only a few places. There was almost no one on the trail beyond the junction with the Camp Lake trail on this Sunday. The out-and-back is about 12 miles with not a great deal of climbing. The "stairway to heaven" between Grouse Lake and Piute Creek is quite impressive.

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Julian Müller
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Hiking

Beautiful, but definitely not for the faint of heart. We cut short our plans for a bigger loop because of blisters and everyone said Gem lake was a bug fest. Bear lake was great, camping at grouse lake required some scrambling to get to the granite bluffs away from the bugs, but worth it. Pretty hot during the day, and some creeks starting to dry up so fill your water when you can.

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Jessica Gilbert
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Hiking

Backpacked this loop counterclockwise and camped at Lilypad Lake July 13-14, 2019. Lots of nice flat camping spots up on the granite ledge south of the lake & trail at Lilypad. Plenty of trees for hammock camping too ;) The lilypads are just starting to emerge and look really cool below the surface. Water was NOT ice cold and made for a super pleasant swim after that hot sunny climb! Multiple creeks to cross, but none precarious - the deepest was about knee high, so a pair of water shoes were pretty clutch. Mosquitoes were pretty bad & swarmy at dawn and dusk but absent during the day. I would 300% recommend climbing to the top of the ridge on the south side of Lilypad Lake. Views are so much more expansive than I would have expected! Great spot for sunrise & sunset. Hit up Bear Lake on the way out and it was magnificently beautiful but painfully ice cold. For photos: @sunnywithachanceofberries on insta. Oh! And a ranger did check for our permits so make sure you pick those up on the way in!

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Andrew Tomai
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BackpackingBugsRocky

This was my first backpacking excursion, and i had a great time doing it! My girlfriend and I did this in 3 days, breaking up the journey as follows: 1. Crabtree trailhead to groundhog meadows 2. Groundhog meadows to bear lake 3. Bear lake back to crabtree trailhead. Things to note: - groundhog meadows and grouse lake were very buggy, bear lake was MUCH less buggy - the trail is hard to find on the crossover from groundhog to piute meadow, but you can stay on course by keeping piute creek to your left - there are 4 stream crossings total, the highest one coming up to ~2-3 feet

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Don Gafford
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HikingBugsMuddy

The trail is pretty well marked until you get down to the lake. It's easy to get lost, but a GPS can keep you on the right track. The trail is pretty dusty to start. There's a little bit of a climb that's in the sun, but most of the trail is level with small hills. There are a few stream crossings and only one of them got me wet. Bear Lake is pretty buggy and very packed right now. I camped in an area under some trees and I couldn't be outside of my hammock for a minute before I got swarmed. I had treated my clothes and was wearing bug spray and they were still crazy. I spent a lot of time on top of the rocks to do my camp chores.

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Amy Lu
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HikingBugsSnow

We did this loop in the clockwise direction from Crabtree trailhead to Bear Lake (~4 miles) where we camped the first night. Bugs weren’t terrible but the crowds were a little tricky. We decided to cross the stream where we found some floating logs and found a much quieter camp site. Second day we hiked the 6-7 miles to Grouse Lake. Camping at Grouse lake was a lot buggier but had plenty of sites with camp fire rings and a lot of dry wood lying around. We headed out from Grouse back to the trailhead with a short 3.5 mile hike on Sunday. All in all, great weekend backpacking experience for beginners and seasoned hikers alike!

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Shane Gallagher
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BackpackingOff trailScrambleSnow

This was our first backpacking trip and have to say we are exhausted however this was worth it. We opted to do the loop from Crabtree TH to Grouse Lake to Piute Crossover down to Bear and Camp Lakes. We didn’t make Bear on this trip. But will be back for sure. The loops is tough but we managed and wasn’t that difficult nothing you can’t grid through. My wife was speechless at times and even had her breath taken away. The views from the top of the passes are beyond describing. No wonder Ansel Adams loved these mountains. Day 1 we left the Crabtree TH late morning and took out time up to the trial split. From there we descended down into the valley to pick up the Pine Crest trail which winding through some nice forest. We got to Grouse Lake had lunch spent some time fishing. Got a few bites but didn’t land anything. After lunch we decided we would try for Studhorse Meadows for the night. The climb from the lake up and over the pass is great with a snowfield the last 300 yards over the top. We got to the Piute Creek and just before we crossed it we decided to stay on the rocks to the right of the trail between the trail and the Piute Creek. Great sandy flat spots, plenty of wood to build a nice fire and enjoy the views. The sound of the creek below was great to sleep next too. Day 2 packed up camp and set of for Bear Lake. Instead of crossing over the Piute Creek at the trial we decided to head up the Piute 50 yards and crossed over a log the spanned the creek. Its above the water fall. The Piute Crossover was hard to pick up at times as still snow and not marked well. As long as you can hear the Piute Creek to your left you will pick up the trial at Piute Meadows. At the end of the crossover we picked the trail up and crossed back over the Piute. There was a line across the creek to hold on too. From the creek it’s a climb up and over the top. The climb and elevation can get to you however once at the top the views are amazing 180 degrees of views. Great stop for lunch or a location to get to and set up a base camp for day hikes. From there we made it to a little lake where we had lunch and then down into the valley to cross Lilly Creek. We cross on a couple down logs just to the left of the trail when you go to cross. Then up the switchback to Camp Lake. We opted out of Bear as we just didn’t have the time. Next time for sure. We made it to Camp Lake, lots of camper and people however great sites to camp. We stayed overlooking the lake however don’t miss the opportunity to hit the top of the ridge above the lake. The views down into the valley below and onto Grouse Lake makes you realize the extent of your trip. Pretty cool. Will be back here for sure. Day 3 we hung out till noonish and then headed down off the mountain. Back at the trailhead we were glad to be out however then the uphill ¾ of a mile out to our car sucked but that was the worst of the trip if at all. As our first trip together, it was strenuous but nothing over the top, just took out time. My wife had a 25 lbs and I had 35 lbs and we both survived. She stated it was a very spiritual and one amazing adventure. We will be back as we now have some many things we want to do and see in this area. Plenty of water, bugs no so bad, snow at the top, not too muddy or wet. Enjoy

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Chloe Reid
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 1, 2019
Backpacking

Fabulous loop! Highly recommend! 6/29-6/30 2019: We didn’t go to Bear lake, just the loop. Road is completely clear of snow all the way to the trailhead, and high majority of the trail. After the long northern no name lake, larger patches of snow exist, but trail is easy to refind. We stayed on west side of Piute creek at the loop connector trail, the creek was flowing fast. Southern side of loop has more obstacles on the trail, and sometimes we questioned whether we were on the trail or a stream. Minimal bugs, many lovely wildflowers and a nice range of wildlife (if you are quiet enough). Quite a few other groups out there, but we bushwhacked away from the trail and had total peace for our campsite.

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Athena LaRue
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 2, 2018
Backpacking

This was my first backpacking trip. We did three days and two nights. The last weekend of September all of the creeks were dry, the lakes were a little low but still beautiful. The days were perfect hiking weather in the 70s-80s. Nice chilly nights probably 40-30s. Day 1 started at the Crabtree trail head. The trail was fairly moderate elevation rise. We had lunch at Camp Lake. So beautiful with lovely fall foliage. We hiked further on and ended the day at Bear Lake. We set up camp on the North side of the lake. We found a great camp site with a stone fire ring, enough room for two tents and a view of watching the sunset behind the lake. Our second day was a beast! Quite a climb in altitude had my heart pounding! But the glorious high mountain vistas were absolutely worth it! We stopped to have lunch at an unnamed lake we called Lily Pond Lake. After lunch my son stood up quick and from the high altitude he got a massive bloody nose. Took us an extra 30min just to stop the bleeding. After half a toilet paper roll used, we continued on our journey. Past dried up Piute Creek we ended our day at Grouse Lake. This day was quite strenuous and took us longer than estimated. But this was my first big hiking trip, we had a couple groups fly past us with their happy dogs leading the way. At Grouse Lake we found a spacious camp site with a large stone fire ring on the North of the Lake and trail. On our third day we finished the loop back to Crabtree trail head. This was the shortest day, but the incline in elevation was intense for a little while. On our way we passed a couple groups on horses. And also saw some shy deer. As a whole the trail was very well maintained, perfect for a first timer.

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Marcus Yanez
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Hiking

love the trail a lot more people out here then I thought, but the scenery was amazing, but be careful it is hunting season an the hunters r out so make noise

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Shari Garcia
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Hiking
First to Review

This trail has it all. Some ups, some downs, some sun, some shade. A few nice swimming holes. Natures raw beauty and sweet serenity. Even a little cowbell! (see pics in my profile) Good elevation gain for a nice workout. Trail length much longer than posted, I completed 15 miles and didn't even do the offshoot because I started late and was running out of daylight. Even on Labor Day the trail wasn't too populated. Trail goes from super sandy in spots, to you having to traverse over rocks, big and small. A varied terrain for sure. Lots of super rad places to camp, would be perfect for packing in and staying overnight. Recommended hike!

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Kimberly Harvey
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Backpacking
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John Lu
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Hiking
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C S
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Hiking
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Polly Khieu
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Hiking
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