Cliff Lake

MODERATE 21 reviews
#8 of 70 trails in

Cliff Lake is a 9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Shaver Lake, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

9.0 miles
1568 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



fly fishing


rock climbing





Very well marked and maintained trail. Starting near Trapper Springs Campground, this trail will take you to Cliff Lake and other destinations. Cliff Lake is a great place for camp, and to day hike from.

2 days ago

The trail to Cliff Lake is well marked with either stacked rocks or intentionally scarred tress which are marked about five or six feet above ground level. None of the tracks that I have seen online indicate a portion of the trail traversing through switchbacks, but you will go through a short section of them as you get closer to the lake. Just prior to the switchbacks you will begin to wonder if you should continue to follow the stream, or follow the defined trail. Follow the trail so you don't have to bushwhack. The last mile and a half of the trail will definitely test your resolve!

Fishing in the lake was productive with the proper tackle. Mosquitoes were an issue, so I treated my clothes with Permethrin prior to the trip. Between that, bug spray, and a bug net, we were fine. Absolutely beautiful lake and campsites. I do wish the mosquitoes weren't so bad on the western end in the grassy meadow.

4 days ago

Great place for overnight backpacking trip!

19 days ago

20 days ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

The trail was beautiful, it was marked fine in my opinion. There were mosquitoes but if you sprayed stuff on you, it was fine. There was a significant number of people camping out by the lake. We backpacked in and spent the night. The next morning we did a day hike up further past Cliff Lake to one of he Dinkey Lakes. I wish we would have camped there instead, it was much quieter. We then went back up and hiked up to Dogtooth Peak, gorgeous views from there. I recommend this place.

1 month ago

On the third decade of July, 2017 myself with three other folks had a backpacking tour to the Cliff Lake from the trail head at Courtright Reservoir. It is very beautiful trail along crystal clear creak to the lake through the wonderful sierra forest. Mosquitoes were pretty active from sunset to dawn. Under the sunlight on hike we did not have any significant problems with mosquitoes. We found that DETA based 30% repellent works for a hour or so then needs to be re-applied. Mosquito Head Net solves the problem but limits some freedom...
Our other concern was about snow coverage after 2017 snowy winter (two weeks ago we stuck in snow on Tuolumne pass). As it is seen on photos it was a few glaciers on shadowy lake shores and occasional snow packs around trail. It was hot enough that we swim in Cliff Lake and Courtright Reservoir.
Trail is marked and seen quite well up to the Cliff Lake. Just before Cliff Lake it forks for two, as shown on all maps. The one which goes to the Rock Lake is good, although sometimes it is hard to find it on stony ground. Another one, which presumably goes along the lake, disappears soon after the fork and all directions look like equally good trail.
Next day we had a nice hike without heavy backpacks along the Dinkey Lakes trail and visited Rock, 1st and 2-nd Dinkey, South, and Swede Lakes. Nature is astonishing there. Unfortunately all summits there are covered by trees obscuring the view. A short climbing from summit between Cliff and Rock lakes to the top of the cliff is easy enough and bring me in an open space with magnificent views on all surrounding lakes and High Sierra mountains.
In summary, all of our team were very excited about this trip.

2 months ago

Trail was poorly marked and difficult to follow. My buddy and I went bushwacking several times. The terrain is also quite rough as there is a lot of sharp river rock and boulders to walk over and through. Finally, the mosquitos were some of the worst I've ever seen, absolutely relentless. There are a lot of nicer trails to better lakes. I'd skip this one.

9 months ago

I really enjoyed this trail back in May of 2016 for Memorial Day weekend. Snow pack still on the ground in some places, but trail and markers were easy to navigate. This was my first family back backing adventure. I see this hike being great for hikers of all skill sets. Want to do again and go deeper into the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

Monday, June 20, 2016

This was our first backpacking trip. The lake and surrounding areas where so beautiful. We will be going back again.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I hiked this trail with three of my girlfriends… we hiked it in middle of July. The weather was cool mid 60s. I think 5 miles is probably pretty accurate. It was harder and further than we all thought but so much more beautiful than we could've ever imagined. There were lush green meadows sprinkled of wildflowers most likely due to the recent rains. The trail had stunning forest and lake views on the way up. Dress in layers, wear good shoes, and take water and food-great day hike!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hiked in and camped for a couple of nights in early June. Trail was easy to follow and well maintained. It's a solid 5 mile hike with some decent elevation change the last mile or so to the lake. The trail also starts above Courtright and drops for the first 1.4 miles. Don't discount this, it was tougher than I thought on the way back out.

We had the full gamut of weather during our brief stay... massive thunderstorms, hail, snow, and rain each afternoon along with a fair share of sunshine in the morning and clear skies at night.

We snagged a wonderful campsite that had a great fire pit up against a huge granite boulder. Great views and best of all, NO mosquitoes. Pretty sure it was the weather that kept them at bay, it certainly wasn't hot at any time. The highest temperature was probably in the mid-60's and it dropped into the low 30's at night. All in all a very enjoyable trip. Quite possibly my new favorite place. Another big plus of this trailhead is that the road in is very nicely paved all the way to the TH parking lot.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Went mid-August. No bugs and mid-70s heat. The trail from trail head to lake seem longer than the 2.75 miles listed here, would estimate closer to 4. Good cover along the way with some good forest views. Views at the lake are spectacular and well worth the trip. Wear good hiking shoes and bring a water filter if temps climb

Sunday, August 10, 2014

did this trail as a day hike... it seems like it's longer than 5.5 miles! but trail is well maintained and the last 4 miles up to cliff lake is all up hill and plenty of loose rocks "so watch your step!" definitely made me stop for a few breathers! but cliff lake is awesome and well worth it! the overall trail was pretty difficult for me...

Friday, August 08, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Easy trail. Very well marked and maintained.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cliff lake is absolutely beautiful! Well worth all the mosquitoes (which are pretty bad in the month of July). Camped at Courtright and hiked to cliff lake just for the day. Too bad the only way to camp there is if you have backpacking gear or a horse. Went swimming in the lake, also did some fishing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Great trip for the weekend. Trail well marked and maintained. Fishing is amazing all season, caution to those who don't care for mosquitoes, be sure to go later in the year.