Dinkey Lakes Trail

MODERATE 50 reviews
#4 of 80 trails in

Dinkey Lakes Trail is a 6.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Shaver Lake, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
925 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bridge out

bugs

snow

hiking
13 days 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
4 months ago

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).

6 months ago

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
7 months ago

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!

7 months ago

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
8 months ago

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
8 months ago

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/

9 months ago

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.

9 months ago

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.

9 months ago

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
9 months ago

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

hiking
9 months ago

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

backpacking
10 months ago

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
10 months ago

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!

10 months ago

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.

10 months ago

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
11 months ago

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.

11 months ago

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
11 months ago

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.

camping
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This was the third time that we have packed up here. The scenery is beautiful but the road is awful to get up to the trail head (expect to be on the road for at least an hour and fifteen minutes from he main road). We drove a buddies Jeep Rubicon up there but did see a few cars parked at the trail head (although I don't know how they did it).

My buddy and I took our eight year old sons up for 3 days and they absolutely loved it! Instead of going clockwise we decided to take the Mystery lake way (counter clockwise, which tools about an hour and fourth five minutes to reach the lake). Make sure that you pay close attention to the trail going up that way because without a GPS it gets a little tricky. We set up a base camp at Mystery lake and day hiked (and fished) up to Swede lake. The fishing was pretty good in the lake morning/early afternoon using either mosquito/elk hair caddies and the kids caught a lot of fish using some small Panther martin lures. We usually throw all of the fish back that we catch and that's what we did this time. The trail gets steep up to the the two lakes but the kids did great! My son and I have already started planning our next trip. We would love to come back up but are reconsidering the area based on the road up to the trail head which is stated above is terrible.

fishing
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pretty easy trail...heavily used

Monday, July 18, 2016

up hill some but beautiful

backpacking
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The road to get to the trailhead was very bumpy and rocky, even in a 4 wheeled drive truck. The hike in was not too rough if you take the loop clockwise. There are gradual inclines throughout. We hiked to lake swede, the third lake on the trail and set up camp. The view was beautiful. We did a little fishing and had some success. The hike back was pretty much downhill with a stretch of steep decline, which is why I suggest going clockwise on the loop. There are pretty waterfalls along the trail and lots of creaks for water.

hiking
Monday, July 11, 2016

Once you made it to the lakes it was all worth while. It was breathtakingly beautiful, almost surreal! The hike was fun the whole way. We spent the hike back discussing and planning our next trip. To say the ride up to the trail head was "rough" is a huge understatement! It was almost treacherous, however let me preface by saying we were in a small VW Jetta. It is a road that practically requires an SUV or a truck. Somehow we made it up & down with no damage to the car, but we were lucky. Next time we will make the trip in a larger truck.

camping
Monday, August 25, 2014

We completed a overnight trip to Island Lake in late August. The conditions of the road and the trail were quite similar... for the most part pretty good, but where it was rough, it was really rough. We took the trail to First Dinkey Lake and then on up to Island Lake. The last little bit from the Second lake to Island lake is not maintained and pretty rugged. We made the hike in a about 2 1/2 hours. On the way back we took the southern loop past South, Swede and Mystery Lakes. We were very glad that we were going downhill as there are a couple of real good climbs if we were going the other way.

We managed to snag a very nice campsite on the northwest corner of the lake. After setting up camp we explored a little around the lake and up on the northern ridge, where there is a great view of First Dinkey and South Lakes. We didn't encounter a single mosquito, which was fortunate since my son informed me at the trailhead that he forgot the repellent. The only downside to this trip was that, due to the extremely high fire threat, no campfires were allowed. This was a real pity, because our campsite had one of the nicest fire pits that I have encountered in the back country.

camping
Sunday, August 03, 2014

Anxious to get back to this place. The 13 miles before the trailhead is slow but we had no problems at all with a 2003 Rav4. We saw sedans at the trail head but I'm sure they scraped a few times. We took the trail to Mystery Lake at the fork being that we came to this place to catch the variety of trout. Mystery lake is only about 2 miles from the trailhead and there's about a quarter mile of switchbacks right before you get to the lake. We had no luck at Mystery Lake after a couple hours so we continued on to Swede Lake where we set up camp on the SE corner of the lake near the cliffs. After setting up camp we trailblazed to Rainbow Lake and had no luck there either but was a pretty lake. That evening we fished Swede and caught a few on Panther Martins and Rooster Tails. The next day we hiked to Island Lake which is right below Three Sisters and was absolutely gorgeous. We caught 2 pure bred golden trout on the same lures which is arguably the rarest fish in the world. On the way back to Swede Lake we stopped at South Lake where we caught some brookies that were beautiful! Also caught a hybrid rainbow/golden which come down the waterfall from Island Lake. The rumor is true!!!!!! Overall great trip other than it raining the whole hike back to the car! JUST DO IT :)

hiking
Friday, June 13, 2014

The road is rough but very worth the trip. The hike is easy and packed with scenery including natural waterfalls, meadows, and high peaks. The mosquito are vicious at the lakes, make sure you have repellant and use it often. In only an hour of fishing at First Dinkey Lake we caught and released numerous brook and rainbow trout, best fishing activity I've ever witnessed.

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