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Five Lakes Trail

MODERATE 395 reviews
#2 of 193 trails in

Five Lakes Trail is a 5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Olympic Valley, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, horses, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
5.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,118 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

snowshoeing

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

Nestled in the foothills of the Granite Chief Wilderness peaks just north of Lake Tahoe, the Five Lakes promise dramatic yet tranquil surroundings, a place to relax, fish, or swim. Best visited after the snow has retreated in the summer, the Five Lakes Trail is one of the easiest and most accessible hikes in the Granite Chief Wilderness so you're unlikely to have this trail to yourself. Don't be disheartened if the trail is busy however, as the lakes themselves allow for plenty of chances for quiet and solitude. Great views, beautiful wildflowers, and plenty of room for exploration. It's like a playground but better. Stretching is encouraged since almost all of the elevation gain is accrued during the first mile or so of the hike. Once at the lakes, you can take it easy, swim, eat, and lay out, or you can continue on and hike around the ski resort, or head west or south and hit up the PCT and other trails. Ample parking can be found alongside the road both before and after the trailhead.

snowshoeing
8 days ago

Folks, this is NOT a viable snowshoe option. I googled it and it seemed like others had snowshoed the trail, but that is 100% not the case. The trail you hike on in the summer is entirely gone and traversing across the very steep, very snowy trail is impossible in snowshoes because you just slide. We ended up hiking more or less straight up, which was exciting, but insanely difficult. We only got a mile or two before we decided the route was too steep and treacherous and we turned back (aka glissaded down the slope on our asses). The snow was slushy and it wasn’t really avalanche conditions, but the terrain was certainly slide prone and it was a foolish choice to be out there without avi gear. Plus, once we got back to the trailhead, I noticed a sign that said the area is entirely closed for the winter. TLDR; do not attempt this area in the winter.

hiking
3 months ago

A totally undiscovered trail

3 months ago

Did this on 12/31/18. I was the only person on the trail all day. It was definitely an adventure. I highly suggest that only very experienced adventurers take this on during this time of year, as it was very sketchy in some spots.

hiking
5 months ago

Great area. I went counter-clockwise and the South side of the loop was incredibly difficult to keep track of. Had to look for the trail constantly but the lakes are beautiful!

hiking
5 months ago

We loved this hike! Even in off season it can get busy after 10am, so start around 9.

If you’re athletic, it will take 2-3 hours.

The trails are not marked well around the lakes, so be prepared to wander around there a bit.

hiking
5 months ago

Climb is up to the lakes only then a cool little loop to see all 5 lakes and all downhill from there. Just pace yourself up, and this will be a very nice outing-loop the lakes- and down. As others stated, follow your map on the app around the lakes. Not super defined, but not hard to adjust and figure out either. Have fun!

hiking
5 months ago

Trail is not well marked once you get to the lakes so keep your All Trails app handy! We ended up off trail several times but were able to get back on easily by checking the app!

5 months ago

Great trail. Route finding around the loop at the top was a bit tricky. If you are not comfortable with bushwhacking, stick to the main trail and skip the loop.

hiking
5 months ago

generally: easy trail near tahoe city with good scenery (open/mountains first part and along lakes for middle portion), not crowded on a fall weekday
road conditions: paved to trailhead, parking along side the road, no fee/pass needed, ~15 min from tahoe city
trail conditions: rocky/loose gravel for first mile then more packed dirt; find your way around lakes on footpaths
scenery: open trail w views of surrounding mountains and ski resort, upper trail around lakes with nice views off all lakes and surrounding mountains; some lingering fall foliage
difficulty: easy-moderate (first mile with ~1000' elevation, then flat thereafter)

6 months ago

Delightful

hiking
6 months ago

9/29/18 Arrive early to beat the crowds! Quite stunning views and clear alpine lakes. Lovely to hear nothing but the occasional fish jump, duck quack, and wind through the trees! On our way back we encountered multiple large groups heading up. So get here before 9 or go on a weekday!

6 months ago

it's a great trail considering the length, difficulty and what you see on the way. there's enough views on the way to the lakes where u won't feel bored. i doubt it's good for winter time, the trail might get covered by snow. btw, the trail ends at the last lake, u might need to explore before finishing the trail if u wanna find other lakes

hiking
6 months ago

I hiked 5 miles around the first Lake. Nice day.
Lots of views to the local ski areas, houses when coming back lots of construction noises.
The lake area was quiet and nice.

hiking
6 months ago

The yellow jackets are aggressive on this trail. BEE aware and keep your dogs on a leash, they may trigger a bee swarm. We (group of 6) each got stung at least 3-4 times. And not only did it happen once, it happened twice on different sections, two different days, two wks apart. It's a beautiful hike! (I, myself will probably stay away, being allergic to bees). Haven't had that issue anywhere else in the Sierras. *knock on wood*

hiking
6 months ago

*Beautiful scenery throughout the entire hike
*Half of the trail is shaded making it a good hike for double coated dogs in the fall
*Bring water for dogs; the only good water source we found for our dog was the biggest lake
*Found some bear poop on the trail
*Trail is well marked making it nearly impossible to get lost
*Accurately rated as “moderate”; there are some short steep parts of the trail
*It took us an hour and 10 minutes to reach the biggest and last lake

hiking
7 months ago

nice views

7 months ago

Was a ice & easy trail. Me, my husband, kids, & our dogs had a blast.

hiking
7 months ago

One of my favorite hikes. Unbeatable views.

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail, wonderful views, but it is not a Loop Trail. There is a small loop at the very top of the trail but that doesn’t make it a loop trail. We got a really good workout on this trail.

7 months ago

*very nice hike.
*beautiful scenery, and great fun finding all five lakes.
*at the first lake a mama bear and her cub went for a swim.
*plenty of dog water too.

7 months ago

Beautiful day, no clouds, no wind... s o l a c e . . .

hiking
7 months ago

I like this hike as it is dog friendly. Traffic can range from light to heavy so if you’re a solitary hiker, it’s safe (use your own discretion). I easily found 3 of the 5 lakes but had trouble finding the other two. Sunscreen, a hat, and water are a must. I forgot my water bottle at the house and went ahead and did the full hike and was fine, but I don’t recommend it. I would have explored further had I packed it. My dog had a great time swimming in the big lake. Good for hikers of all levels.

7 months ago

this was an awesome trail and the lakes were awesome.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike - challenging, but not unbearable. Great views!

hiking
8 months ago

very nice. Because of the snow we couldn't see much beyond the first lake.
would love to go there when it's warm.

8 months ago

My wife said it reminded her of hiking in the Swiss Alps! Trails have pretty good footing (no rock scrambling or too much scree). Beautiful alpine views on the way up, not overly steep ( and most of the incline is near the beginning), and the small alpine lakes are in a small forest grove with more peaks overlooking them. We enjoyed a dip in the larger lake, and it was a fast easy hike down.

hiking
8 months ago

Popular trail with lots of hikers on the weekend. Beautiful views and pristine lakes that are well worth the climb.

trail running
8 months ago

It's nice out there the scenery and everything, I was able find two of the lakes. Had to use my phone to find the others since you can see it on the map. I didn't bother at first and I got side tracked which let me down the trail to PCT. It's another nice trail but had to back tracked since I wanted to view all the lakes.

hiking
8 months ago

Very doable and fun for all ages! I recommend going onto the mountain top off to the side of the back lake, gives for a great view of Alpine Meadows on a clear day!

8 months ago

Awesome hike. Moderate (most elevation climb is in first half) and once you get to the lakes, so many options to explore other trails (PCT). We went at 7am on a Sunday morning and didn’t see a soul till we hit the lakes, where we saw 2 tents and a hammock camper. No mosquitos at all and we sat in the water for a good 30 minutes. Biggest lake is definitely the only one you could feasibly swim in - the others are very stagnant, shallow and murky. We continued on to join up with the PCT for a bit and then came back to get more mileage in. On the way back down, it was about 11am when we started the descent, the trail was PACKED with people coming up. Definitely don’t plan to start this hike after 9am I would say if you enjoy your space and solitude. Most of the people coming up were city slickers/tourists.

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