Cluster Lakes Loop Trail

MODERATE 7 reviews

Cluster Lakes Loop Trail is a 10.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Old Station, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October.

DISTANCE
10.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1640 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Whether you measure your lakes by quality or quantity, this hike's a winner either way. Located four hours north east of San Francisco this Northern California park might be a little out of the way, but it's a prime destination for seekers of tranquility and those with even just a passing interest in geology. This guide explores a chain pristine lakes and pools at least a dozen in number, on this loop trail deep in the heart of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Elevation gain: - 1,100ft (from 6,600 - 7,200ft)

backpacking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

We did the CLLT clockwise as a dayhike after an anomalously wet winter. We chose to do it clockwise in order to 1) tackle the greater climb in the cool of the morning, and 2) we wanted to save the unburned (read: shaded) forest portions for the heat of the afternoon. After the hike, we concluded that our choice was good.

Despite daytime temps of ~80F in mid-July, the anomalously wet winter left intermittent patches of snow on the trail under the shade of trees. Despite this, navigation was not difficult, and required no special equipment other than good boots. A GPS (or GPS app) is always recommended for distances this far from frontcountry.

This is an outstanding hike if you like pristine mountain lakes (I certainly do). You will pass no less than a dozen of them in the course of this loop, some more pristine than others, and some incredibly so. In particular, Silver Lake lies in the middle of a burned-out area with what seems like a bottom primarily of volcanic sand, and seemingly no organic turbidity. This is the first lake I have ever seen where the water is so clear and optimal you can stare into it and see the water plants at the shore edges "pearling" (a term planted-aquarium enthusiasts use, usually associated with high-powered lighting + CO2-supplementation where you are turbocharging the photosynthesis) with oxygen bubbles. Lower Twin Lake is the forested version, with very clear water (only a little soiled by pollen) that everyone felt compelled to filter water from.

As dayhikers, we didn't spend much time at any of the individual lakes. But it would make sense that as backpackers with the luxury of time, you might want to bring a swimsuit. Somebody was doing just that Lower Twin Lake while a Park Ranger was there filtering water with us.

backpacking
11 months ago

We did the Cluster Lakes Loop in a clockwise direction whereas most of the reviews I've seen do it the other way. The benefit of doing in clockwise is that you get the area burned in 2012 out of the way instead of ending your trip with it. We started at the parking lot of the Summit Lake Ranger Station and headed out. We went left at the Y and headed to the cluster. We passed Little Bear, Big Bear and Feather Lakes. The majority of this portion of the trip was downhill however, the gravely terrain made the going a bit more difficult. Our destination for the evening was Rainbow Lake so we came to Lower Twin Lake and stayed to the left. Rainbow Lake was beautiful. A bit too many mosquitoes for my liking in the evening but with a little repellent, it wasn't too bad. Next morning we headed back to the trail-head passing Lower Twin. Upper Twin and Echo Lakes. Since it was mostly downhill going in, it was mostly climbing coming back. The climb from Echo Lake up toward Summit Lake was at least moderate in difficulty. An easier trip would be to go to the right at the Y and bypass the burned out areas for now.

backpacking
Friday, September 23, 2016

Our first backpacking trip. We worked the trail counter-clockwise to avoid the business of Twin Lakes (and the apparent bear who'd set up shop). Gathered fresh water at Big Bear Lake and camped at Little Bear. The wind picked up in the middle of the night (which was a bit terrifying when surrounded by half-dead trees). The trail was pleasant and lakes enjoyable for swimming in the late summer heat. Definitely a trail we"ll re-visit.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

hiking
Thursday, May 28, 2015

If you like lakes, this is the trail for you. There's nothing stunning expect for the summit lake, which offers the best reflection of Mt. Lassen, but everything is very pleasant. Unfortunately, the cluster lakes area suffered a forest fire recently and everything looks depressingly grey.

Instead of doing this loop, consider hiking just to the twin lakes, or use the twin lakes as a jumping point for your longer backpacking trips.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Great hike going counter clockwise for the first 4 to 5 miles, but remaining 4 miles is all burnt woods from just over a year, and was depression to walk through. Wait some time for the growth to re-appear