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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.

Distance: 9.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,505 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

forest

lake

river

bugs

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.

hiking
8 months ago

October 14th. The wild flowers have been put away for the season. and most of the streams have run their course. But the beauty of the wilderness is not diminished by their absence. Excellent trail with good variety and a spectacular lake. Don’t miss the view just a short walk out the trail to Rock Lake.

hiking
8 months ago

beautiful trail. perfect weather, but dry and dusty. the lake is gorgeous, worth the trek. great spot to backpack to and camp. brought the doggos, they loved it! clocked 10.6 on alltrails recording, not 9.

hiking
8 months ago

Cool trail. A little bit too rocky. Lake was pretty cool though 3/5

hiking
bugs
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

The mosquitos didn't seem so bad today. My only regret was not backpacking in to stay the night.. this lake was just like heaven. Plenty of campsites for backpackers!

backpacking
bugs
9 months ago

8/23-24, Good hike, trail is well-used and easy to follow. Horse traffic makes parts of the trail like walking on the beach (very loose sand), which isn’t great in hiking boots. Saw at least four groups of 2-8 overnight Friday night, passed 8 people hiking in on Saturday as we were hiking out. Weather was great, water was not too cold. Mosquitoes present but not bad. A few meat bees hanging around our campsite, maybe drawn by leftover food smells?

hiking
9 months ago

First hike for me in the Sierra high country. This hike is mostly shaded and under the forest canopy. Starts off with a short descent which means it ends with a climb on your way back. We camped at the lake on a Friday night and there were a lot of people there already. We walked out Saturday morning and passed about twenty more hiking in. Must be a popular destination. Cliff Lake was beautiful and serene especially right before dark and just before sunrise. The moon was intensely bright which cast a glowing reflection off the cliff walls all night. Bugs were present but not pesky. Enjoy.

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked the trail 8-11 August and had minimal mosquito encounters. Still would recommend repellant and a mosquito net, just in case. Weather was beautiful, warm days and chilly nights. Very enjoyable hike.

hiking
9 months ago

Very well maintained and beautiful trail to a pristine Cliff Lake. I was concerned about the reviews stating mosquitoes, as I am a mosquito magnet! We did not have very many at all, possibly due to the cooler temps with high in the mid 60s. The trailhead is at Courtright reservoir and is a gentle incline the whole way to Cliff Lake. Our GPS showed about 11 miles round trip to Cliff Lake, so plan accordingly. Well worth it!

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

My gps put this trail at 5.37 miles one way. Still worth it. Beautiful. Not too steep. Trail maintained pretty good. Bring bug spray

backpacking
bugs
9 months ago

We hiked 8/2-4/19. The only reason I gave this trail 4 and not 5 is because of the mosquitoes. They were bad, but they always are so prepare and make the best of it. Our group split on the trail. The first arrived at camp in 3 hr 20 minutes, second at 4 hours 5 min and third at 5 hours 10 min. The trail gets tough but it's beautiful and everyone agreed it's worth it. We camped further from lake and kept fire going all day which helped with mosquitoes. Bring lots of repellent and a head net. Bring hatchet for downed trees as firewood is sparse. weather was beautiful (near 80) and we swam. Fly fishing was good, powerbait and salmon eggs were not. took about an hour to hike entire perimeter of lake.

hiking
bugs
9 months ago

Great hiking conditions when we went (2019-07-21 out, 2019-07-25 back). Some mosquitos near slow-moving water, but bug conditions at most of Cliff Lake had improved a bit by the time we got there - despite a bigger-than-average snow melt (and complaints registered by returning hikers) that had occurred prior. Swimming and fishing were good - cold, but not punishing, and a lot of bites, catch-and-release was the theme this trip. The trail network coming out of the lake was a bit harder to pick out, due to the previous runoff conditions, but it wasn’t a big issue. Campsites at Cliff Lake were nicely-tended, and defensible space was well-maintained (translation: firewood is scarce within 500 yards of campsites).

backpacking
bugs
muddy
rocky
10 months ago

7/20/19 Bring plenty of bug spray and head nets. The mosquitos are out for blood! There are plenty of water sources. Temps were in the mid to high 70’s in the day and mid 40’s at night. I took us about 3.5-4 hours to get the the lake due to the heat and steady incline. There are a good amount of spots to camp and all have a view of the lake. Firewood is sparse, you have to hike a little to find some. The fish are very active in the lake and you can see them eating bugs on the water very frequently. Two people from our group got in the lake. The water is very cold! The hike back out is quick and easy due to it being mostly downhill. The last stretch is a steady incline back to the parking lot. Overall a beautiful and challenging yet doable hike.

hiking
bugs
10 months ago

Great day hike. Walked on 7/11/19. Able to walk across creek ( with shoes off) no problem. Lots of water throughout the hike., trail easy to follow. Great views as you are approaching lake. Be prepared for lots of mosquitoes , especially near the lake. Well worth walk.

hiking
10 months ago

Beautiful trail and amazing lake. Did this with my 7, soon to be 8 year old and he carried his own 12lb pack the entire trail. Up hill majority of hike into the lake except first mile from trail head (down hill) but it is 6 miles until you reach lake. My son didn’t complain at all despite this being pretty challenging. Weather was awesome (75/45) still quite a bit of snow surrounding lake. Did a nice little day hike to bullfrog lake as well. Fishing was excellent at cliff, but all catch and release as they are no bigger than 5 inches (brook and rainbow trout). Hike out is great since majority down hill, but that last mile climb the the cars is super challenging following a 5 mile hike out.

backpacking
10 months ago

6/30/19 If I didn't have the ap I would have gotten lost near the end. a lot of snow and a half frozen lake. I loved the hike. I do want to point out that you have to cross a raging creek about a mile and a half in. Only place to cross at this time is a little down stream there is a fallen log. It has no bark so be careful. I held my terrier and made it across. As soon as you cross head up the creek. You will see the trail. As for the end keep your ap handy to guide you through the snow to the lake. Have fun!!!!

hiking
11 months ago

Did this trail with a friend. Trail was good and well marked. Would definitely do again.

Tue Nov 06 2018

We did this 11-3-18 and although it took about 2.5 hours from Fresno, the weather was gorgeous. The fishing however was horrible with not a single bite. The last mile or so of the trail was tough but still gorgeous. Rock lake looks really close on the map but it ends up being down this huge hill that you eventually have to come back up.....we left too late to do it but hopefully next time. :)

backpacking
Mon Oct 15 2018

Beautiful lake. Did an overnight trip with my daughter. Temperature at the lake felt about 10 degrees cooler than on the trail. Probably due to the wind gusts. Ended up camping about a 1/2 mile from the lake. Fishing was great as well.

fishing
Wed Oct 03 2018

Great fishing at cliff lake and and an equally rewarding hike to nearby Rock lake

hiking
Wed Sep 05 2018

Nice day hike. At this temperature (low in the 40’s at Trapper Springs campground) at end of Aug, NO MORE MOSQUITOES :)...and no water in any of the stream beds. Beautiful destination. Only 2 groups staying at the lake the Friday before Labor Day weekend. I’m going back with my 13 yr-old and dog for an overnighter before it snows.

Mon Jul 30 2018

It is 5.5 miles one way, 11 miles total. Took my 9 year old son and we made it to the lake in 2:40 and out in 2:20. Lots of people.

Mon Jul 23 2018

I thought this Trail was well marked, even amount of up hill and down hill. The lake was worth the distance! The drive to the trailhead was only an hour from Shaver Lake and on a paved road.

backpacking
Wed Jul 18 2018

Backpacked out of Courtright Reservoir with my 18 year old son. Took us 2.5 hours to get in and 2 hours out. Trail is pretty well marked with only a couple of instances where we needed to look around for additional identification. Moderate is appropriate - only the last segment has much in terms of elevation change. It's a really nice hike with wildflowers, creeks and vistas sprinkled along the route. There's also plenty of shade/cover during the hike. Cliff Lake is really nice and has a scenic quality to it with a sheer wall along its NW side. Read a lot about mosquitoes and bugs which worried me prior to our departure. On the way in, with the trail being near a water source for a healthy part of the hike, you did notice the bugs, especially when you stopped. At Cliff Lake, however, I didn't think it was that bad. Maybe it was because it was later in the season. Maybe it was because we had a nice breeze during the day. But, the mosquitoes weren't that bad during the day (noticed the flys more but not a big deal). Come dusk to dawn, when the breeze calmed down, the mosquitoes did come out. Again, I wouldn't characterize it as menacing. Day hiked to Rock Lake. There I thought the mosquitoes were much worse. Climbed a ridge and most of the surrounding lakes seemed to have a fair amount of marsh which would lead me to believe they, too, might have more bug issues than Cliff. Cliff is popular. There are several quality campsites and they were mostly filled while we were there (say 15+ people in addition to us during our 2 night stay). That may/may not bother some people. We caught 4 Brown trout (had to throw 2 back as they were too small). Plenty of jumpers during the morning and evening hours. Overall, I/we really enjoyed our stay and would definitely come back again!

Sat Jul 14 2018

Completed an out-back from the Trapper Springs TH. 3 hours in and 2.5 out with a dog. Bugs were tough and head net + DEET make it more enjoyable. Lots of mountain storms this weekend so rain for much of the afternoon and night. Check weather and prepare accordingly. This is a day hike destination but from here you can bag peaks or fish the other lakes in the area.

backpacking
Thu Jun 21 2018

Awesome trail! Beautiful lake! Was closer to 5.5 miles out, so 11 round trip. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent!

backpacking
Wed Jun 20 2018

Great hike, the trail had a couple of deadfalls to hike around. Last river crossing by the lake on the way in was higher than usual but no reason to get wet. I did not stop much on the way in because the skeeters were so bad. I applied Deet at the trailhead, all day, and into the night. I ran out of Deet the next morning so I jogged out early. Caught a Brookie on a frog popper.

backpacking
Mon Jun 11 2018

Giving it 4 stars out of 5 only because of the mosquitos. When my group and I took small rests, mosquitos swarmed us. Got to the lake, and they were even worse. The trail itself disappears here and there so be careful. Resources there are also scarce. There will be stacked rocks for guidance. Cliff Lake is also a highly used area for backpackers, so resources were scarce. Besides that , absolutely a beautiful place. Great fishing. Great campsites available even though there were multiple groups camping there. If time is enough, try to hike to Dogtooth peak.

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