Dinkey Lakes Trail

MODERATE 66 reviews
#4 of 93 trails in

Dinkey Lakes Trail is a 6.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Shaver Lake, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and fishing and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
856 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

camping

fishing

hiking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

snow

Users have reported that the road to the trailhead can be difficult for 2WD vehicles. 4WD with some ground clearance is recommended. There is a bridge out on the road leading to the trailhead. According to users, there is a driving route that bypasses this bridge, and takes the hiker to the trailhead. This route involves taking the Tamarack Ridge turn off of 168. Please contact Sierra National Forest to get information on this detour. Alternatively, hikers can park at the bridge, and walk to the trailhead, adding significant miles to the hike.

3 months ago

Do not attempt the drive to trail head unless you at least have a high clearance vehicle. And if it rains, you had better have four wheel drive. I drove in my Ford Edge and barely made it. Spun my wheels and scraped car under carriage a few times. But the destination was well worth the worrisome journey. Absolutely beautiful. There really are no mosquitoes at this time of year and no bear activity which really adds to the enjoyment. Very high altitudes though. Take it slow especially if you are a sea level dweller like me!

I will be back, but in a truck!!

BTW I have a tried and true formula for mosquito repellent. Mix vapor rub (menthol) with coconut oil. Three weeks in Fiji with hummingbird size mosquitoes and I didn’t get bitten once!

backpacking
4 months ago

Gorgeous hike, beautiful lakes. Mosquitos are out of control. It was hard to enjoy anything while being swarmed constantly. First night at stayed at first dinkey lake, with an amazing view of the lake and meadows. We hiked up to higher elevation and stayed at rainbow lake the second night, which was significantly better, mosquito - wise. We were all covered in DEET, and used citronella incense, as well as natural repellant, to no avail. I'd love to come back some day when the mosquito population isn't as crazy. Great trail for beginners and kids, otherwise.

5 months ago

Amazing views. We did the loop passing by 4 lakes. 15km. Easy hike. Cristal bleue sky, no mugs thanks to the wind. The way to get there was actually also an adventure as we are not used to drive a 4x4 (a must for the last part of the dirt road). We took the Tamarack road following the advice bellow.

backpacking
5 months ago

We took Tamarack road in as the road from Dinkey Creek is closed. We were warned about abundant mosquitos but it wasn’t bad at all. There were some at Dinkey 1, but we stayed at Island lake and had no problems with mosquitos at all. We took 4 kids on their first backpacking trip and it was fantastic!

5 months ago

Actually didn’t get to hike it but wanted to post this in case others are headed down soon. Got to the road leading to the trail (Dinkey Road) and it was closed due to construction. Drove 2 hours and was bummed about that. Perhaps call restaurants/businesses in the area to inquire if the road has opened back up.

backpacking
6 months ago

Amazing traill and beautiful but the mosquitoes were relentless. Even spraying up every fifteen minutes they would bite you. It was constant which explains why we had the lake we were at to ourselves which was breathtaking. The road there should be driven by an SUV. I appreciated being in a four wheel drive even though I didn’t use it. Had to drive around the long way from Dinky Creek Campground since road and bridge still out on the short route. We did get a bit lost but it was mostly user error and it was marked ok. The trails are also poorly marked so plan on doing some extra hiking to find your way but it is also why you get solatude and wake up to a lake all to yourself. Fly fishing seemed like it would have been successful since the trout were jumping all over the lake eating the plethora of mosquitos.

hiking
7 months ago

I really wanted to like this trail. 5 lakes in only 7 miles? What is there not to like? For starters, the road towards the trailhead. Rough road and at certain portions off road conditions. It is about 1.5 hours from Dinkey Creek Campground. Not recommended if you do not have a high clearance all wheel drive SUV. Secondly-- the actual trail. Poorly marked, not maintained at all and easy to lose the trail. You will experience a lot of bushwacking. Thanks to my downloaded map from Alltrails, we managed to find our destination, Island Lake. No switchback-- just straight up. The worse part? Mosquitoes. and lots of them. We had to cut our trip 1 day short because of it. But I have to say though it is really beautiful and if you want solitude, you will definitely have it here.

backpacking
7 months ago

We did this back last August. Got there at night and and a heck of a time finding the alternate trail head. Put in first thing in the morning and it was such a easy trip overall! stayed at first lake night 1. Took a dip in the clear beautiful water, laid in the sun, complete pleacefulness. Ended up hailing that night so we made dinner in our tent with our two dogs. Day two we hiked to lake 2 and and thought lake 3 isn't that far, hike there and then choose where to camp. Loved lake 3 and stayed there. Found a great rock that reflected our fire just right at night! From lake 3 we went thru a rocky area to lake 4, it was a little confusing but found our way. overall it was a nice slow going backpacking trip over 3 days. I plan to take friends who haven't backpacked on it as an intro trip!

hiking
8 months ago

Done this hike many times, sometimes as a backpack, others as a day hike. Always a great trip. Last day hike was the most interesting. It was early September, so the weather was great. Instead of starting out on the trail, we did the full loop of almost all the lakes, we left the trail within a couple hundred yards after leaving the parking lot. We crossed the creek and headed up the ridge and contoured around and went to Eastern Brook then Rainbow to Swede. We continued on the trail for a short time and then up the ridge to Fingberbowl, Island, and Rock Lakes. Back on the trail again, we took a side trip to Little Lakes then to Second Dinkey and then cut cross country to South Lake. We got back on the trail and passed Swede (again) headed to Mystery and then then back to the trailhead. That's 10 different beautiful, yet different, high Sierra lakes. All in about 6-7 hours. The trickiest part of the hike was the first section up to Eastern Brook and Rainbow Lakes, otherwise the route finding was pretty straightforward (as long as you're pretty good with a map or gps).

backpacking
Friday, January 19, 2018

Theeeeee best little scenic loop ever! I typically do this during mid-late September & the weather is perfect (a little cold). I hear the mosquitoes are bad during summer but I’ve yet to experience them. You get a pretty little lake about every 1-2miles. So rewarding! Stop at the Auberry ranger station before heading in. They’ve got great little maps with the best service road entry highlighted for you & also good info (reports of an aggressive bear last time I backpacked it).

Saturday, November 04, 2017

The bridge to this hike is out, so it’s necessary to take a different route off the 168 through the Tamarack Ridge turn off. It’s best to call the forest service prior to driving there for more specific recommendations. We were told the bridge would be repaired no earlier than summer 2018. This route is definitely best done in a 4WD vehicle, especially the last 2 miles.
This is my favorite hike in all of California. It’s not too strenuous yet there is incredible beauty. If you have the stamina, definitely do the off shoot trail to Island, Second, Rock Lakes. If you only do the loop, it can be completed in under 3 hours. If you add the extra trail, add 1-2 hours depending on how long you want to explore these higher alpine lakes. We tried to drive here once in July and the roads were still closed due to snow. We’ve hiked it in August, September and today. Today was a bit chilly. August and September are probably the best months. Be ready for unexpected summer storms though. Overall, be ready to be awed by the Sierras at their best.

backpacking
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I've read multiple reviews that mention the bridge being out on 9S10 from Rock Creek Road. However, You can go in from the Tamarack Snow Park off of Hwy. 168 (Tollhouse) and follow Rock Creek Rd. from the west side of the Tamarack Ridge. It takes almost an hour to get to the trailhead from the Snow Park and the road is VERY rough (I wouldn't take a passenger car), but that is way better than adding six miles to your trip by hiking in from the damaged bridge.

Now about the Dinkey Lakes Trail. I really enjoyed the hike. Go clockwise for a much easier go of things. Beautiful scenery. No mosquitoes in the end of September 2017 because of snow the week prior.
Other reviewers are correct about the trail. It is really easy to get lost between First Dinkey Lake and South Lake. There are little rabbit trails running all over the place and before you know it, you'll be heading off to Second Dinkey Lake and Rock Lake instead of the Dinkey Loop. My best advice is to hug the north and east shorelines of First Dinkey Lake until you pick up the more prominent trail. Other than that, the entire loop is awesome!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Done this trail in the past and it's great. But the road is closed with a sign that says the bridge is out. Oh well!

backpacking
Monday, September 25, 2017

Hiked in from the closed bridge. There was still a lot of snow mounds and the creeks and waterfalls were cool.
I'd give it 5 stars except there were so many people and 4 wheelers.

backpacking
Sunday, September 10, 2017

Beautiful trail, and the lakes are all close enough together that you don't have to hike far before you're treated to another gorgeous scene. The short distances make this a very leisurely backpacking trip--this might be my first trip where I can say that I didn't leave feeling destroyed! I shared more about our trip in a blog post: http://chrisdoesthings.com/2017/08/04/dinkey-lakes-backpacking-trip/

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Fun, easy, and beautiful trail. Make sure to hike to Island and Fingerbowl lakes. Wild flowers in abundance. While First Dinkey Lake can get crowded the other lakes are less so.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Fun, easy, and beautiful trail. Make sure to hike to Island and Fingerbowl lakes. Wild flowers in abundance. While First Dinkey Lake can get crowded the other lakes are less so.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Well marked trail except if you stop by any of the lakes. There are other trails that circle the lakes. It was a little difficult for us to find our way back on the main trail.

hiking
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Loved this hike! Not easy to get to the trailhead, but totally worth it. Beware of the mosquitoes!

hiking
Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Great hike! Loved it! Getting up there is a challenge but worth it!

backpacking
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Been here many times. Do yourself a favor and start at the ranger station in Prather to get a permit and a free detailed map to navigate the rough 10 mi 4WD trails between Hwy 168 & Willow Meadow Trailhead. There is a way around the closed bridge. If you are hiking the loop, finding the beginning point of the trail can be confusing. Stay left walking out of the parking lot toward the trail. Start on the left side of Dinkey Creek and stay left of the creek all the way to 1st Dinkey. This is the easier direction of the loop due to the steep stair climb between Swede & South lakes. There was some snow on the trails but it is melting fast and will be gone any day. The Mosquitoes were as bad as ever so bring a head net and extra bug spray. Lots of swampy areas so make sure your boots are waterproof. Fishing was excellent as always at 1st Dinkey, South, Rock & Cliff. Slow at Island and dead at Fingerbowl although it is well worth the effort to hike up for the views and a bonus was snowplay for the kids at Fingerbowl under the Three Sisters peaks.

backpacking
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We walked in from the closed bridge on Rock Creek Road, adding 6 miles to each end of a 1 night trip.
The trail disapeared between Mystery Lake and Swede Lake. We used GPS coordinates to find the second lake on our junket.
From there the trails were pretty clear. The trail at Mystery Lake has mystified me on each of my trips to the area however, it would be nice if it were ribboned or otherwisw marked - and clear of the marsh!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Took alternate route from tamarack ridge to get to trailhead due to damaged bridge on usual route. Portions of trail by lakes and snow were very muddy or filled with water. Had to find alternate routes numerous times. Lakes and creeks were beautiful. Good fishing at swede lake and island lake. Looking forward to coming back again. 4x4 definitely helpful on dirt road out. At least need awd.

Monday, July 10, 2017

As of July 9th, 2017, the bridge on rd 9S10 is closed (looks like a tree fell and hit it?) about 5.5 miles from the trailhead. I don't believe there is an alternative route to the lakes.

backpacking
Sunday, June 25, 2017

I gave this 5 stars because, even though we didn't actually make it to the trailhead due to a tremendous amount of snow, we had an absolutely epic 18+ mile trip trying! Rock Creek Road was gated, so we figured we would just hike the whole damn thing back to the trail. It felt like it was uphill in the snow both ways. Camped at some truly wild spots, had some amazing campfires, a ton of laughs... and a fair share of suffering too. Nothing like spending most of your time surviving to help you out with some gratitude for the things you do have in your daily life. Can't wait for them to clear the road and get a little snow melt so we can actually get back there and fish those lakes.

As of Memorial Day weekend, if you want to get back to the trailhead and visit the lakes, bring snowshoes and be prepared to get your hike on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This is one of my favorites! I love that it's a loop, love that it's dog friendly, and love the lakes along the way. The only con is that it's a bit of a drive but it's worth it! Take a car you don't mind beating up or take a vehicle with clearance and drive slow.

backpacking
Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Took my nephew (6 yo.) and my niece (9 yo.) on this. They did fine. The road to this trail can be tricky. Pay close attention to your map and numbered route signs. The road also has deep potholes and miles of teeth rattling bumps. Easy trail, beautiful lakes, swam in each of them. Plenty of restaurants back in town after hike was done.

backpacking
Monday, September 26, 2016

An awesome 2 night 3 day trip! My girlfriend and I, took my cousin and his wife on their first backpacking outing here. A great backpacking trip for beginners and also for people who love to fish! Over at swede lake every cast I took I came back with a beautiful rainbow.
I suggest going to longer route to the First Dinkey Lake(left) instead of Mystery Lake(right) unless you enjoy doing straight up hill climbs, then be my guest!
Gave 4 stars due to the terrible road getting up there and the darn meat bees! There's thousands of them. But overall once you get there, It's gonna be a good trip!

backpacking
Thursday, September 22, 2016

If u can find your way to the trail, which the road can be confusing (which I would have NOT found if part of my hiking party didn't leave flags out) & survive the road, it's well worth the "adventure "! Island lake & Rock Lake is beautiful & the sunsets are breathtaking & peaceful. :)

hiking
Monday, August 01, 2016

People say the road up there is terrible, they aren't lying... It was terrible. But the hike itself was beautiful! Made the trip worth it.

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