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Five Lakes Trail

MODERATE 308 reviews
#4 of 144 trails in

Five Lakes Trail is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Alpine Medows, 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 and horses are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
4.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,092 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

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.

hiking
10 days ago

Arrived at the trail head at 9:30 AM. There was plenty of parallel parking near the trail head. There are no restrooms at the trail head, so it was good thing we stopped at the rest area on Donner Summit. Nor is there water.

From the start it was steeper than expected. It was also warm for July morning. For an alpine trail there isn't much shade. As others have said, the first .5 mile is the steepest then it lessens. The total climb is about 2 miles. We saw lots of dogs on the trail.

If I did this hike again, I would do it when it was cooler - maybe start earlier or go earlier/later in the season. And bring sun gear (wide brim hats, SPF clothing) and drinks with electrolytes.

hiking
12 days ago

This trail was suggested to us by a resident living in N. Tahoe. We were looking for a fairly short hike to get us onto the PCT to day hike, and man I'm so glad we took her suggestion! We got there fairy early, around 8am I guess, there was plenty of parking near the trail head but by the time we were coming off 6.5hrs later it was packed. Lots of people is groups so I'd suggest coming early. There is some exposure after the switchbacks at the start of the trail so I'd suggest a hat and definitely sun block. Once you get up into the forest where the lakes are you'll also want to have bug spray. The views were gorgeous and we only had a little trouble navigating our way to the PCT. We downloaded our map to my phone and it worked perfectly in helping us navigate our way as just beyond the lakes the trails split off a bunch and there aren't really any signs. Great place to explore and hang for a while!

hiking
14 days ago

Really fun, moderate trail. We hiked up at 2pm in July so it was hot and mostly sunny with a few shade spots. We hiked down at 4:30pm and the trail was mainly shaded by that time in the afternoon. The incline alternated between somewhat steep to flat.

It’s easy to find the first lake (flat, muddy, and grassy) but keep going on the trail (you’ll pass a wooden sign) where you can turn off and find the big, clear, deeper lake.

The views of the granite cliffs are beautiful, the vegetation diverse as we ascended, and the birds active.

hiking
16 days ago

We took some pre-teens up this trail, while carrying backpacks for an overnight trip. Going up was challenging as it was a hot day and not much shade. Once we got up to the first lake, we couldn't find the other lakes until we asked the other hikers. Path to the other lakes aren't visible, but we found them anyway by walking around. Overnight stay was great and there were a lot of wild flowers which was beautiful.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail, uphill and unshaded until the lakes so beware of that. Lakes are very pretty, though you have to get through some brush to get to more than the first one. Trails around the lakes were often wiped out by the winter weather or fallen trees, and you couldn’t see or find these trails easily. Big snow patches were still on the ground in early June when I did that trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike! Pretty steep going up to the lakes, but a great workout. The lakes are beautiful! There were helicopters flying over head every few minutes too!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike, lots of sun and up hill most of the first bit.

hiking
1 month ago

New to the area but this is one amazing hike! Only made it to the first lake because we started around 4:15pm and didn't know how long it would be until we lose sunlight. Made it back to the car around 6:45pm. Snow at the 1st lake but wow what awesome views. I can't say enough great things about this awesome hike. Jealous of the people that live close by! Bring Jackets, waterproof boots and lots of water!

1 month ago

Great to take your dog here. Great hike and easy for kids.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice walk up to the first snowfields, but had trouble finding the trail. Trust the footprints in the snow to keep you on track. Got as far as the first lake, but the snow started to get rotten and we turned back to avoid post holing. Only saw a couple other hikers.

hiking
5 months ago

Amazing Trail here one of my favorites so far!!

snowshoeing
5 months ago

I chose this trail and location for my first foray into snowshoe backpack winter camping.
Before I describe the trip and trail I will leave a word of caution: don’t park at the trailhead anywhere during the winter months. You will get “snow towed.“ I did!
Despite that headache, I had an awesome time blazing Pristine trails through 8 inches of fresh powder, which had just dropped the preceding week prior to my Saturday morning trip.
Despite being obscured by the snow, the trail was easy to follow and AllTrails map is spot on.
Gorgeous winter-scape and views. See pics.

5 months ago

Beautiful hike not to bad of an elevation gain

hiking
6 months ago

Although there were a few spots I wished I had yakttax on, this was a wonderful hike. I was amazed by the frozen lake with a snowman built on it. The views are spectacular.

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful mountainous hike.

6 months ago

Great hike. The first 100 yards were a bit icy given the time of year but after that the trail was clear to the top.

7 months ago

Great hike with stellar views. Have shoes that can handle snow y slush (it was a warm December day). Casual incline. Do it.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice short hike. A lot of switch backs since the start of hike is a very rapid ascent. Lots of slushy snow and melted ice causing wet boots. Need to come back in the summer since too much snow at the top to make it enjoyable without proper foot wear. Also no where to park except side of the road.

Signs that state: private property. Thankful to the owner that allows us to hike on this property.

There are also signs of Avalanche warnings!

You are in between squaw valley and within alpine meadows resorts so you’ll hear a lot of cars from the freeway and also pass by ski lifts on your way up. Don’t expect a private hike during winter ski season.

Good place for summer hiking but not for winter.

hiking
7 months ago

We did the five lakes trail hike with our kids (5 & 9) end of November and it was great. The trail is challenging when snow covered, but fun. It was just the right level for our kids. But you want to make sure to wear proper hiking shoes. The trail offers Great nature and views. The only downside: there are no garbage bins, so many people dispose their dog poop bags along the trail... or just leave their dog's droppings behind.

hiking
8 months ago

It was awesome!

8 months ago

Love this trail!!! Amazing views. Started hike in am so little icy in spots...slushy in others, but turns into fun snow near the top.

hiking
8 months ago

A bit slushy right now in the first mile or two. Would probably be better with a bit more snowfall. Have also done it in summer and it was great.

9 months ago

Love it

hiking
9 months ago

I enjoyed the views of the alpine lakes near the end of the hike, great place to sit and eat a lunch. The ascent isn't as spectacular as there is little to no cover/shade. We hiked on a Sunday and there were a ton of hikers. Plus, the fact that chair lifts are all around you takes away from wilderness factor in my opinion.

Pretty end point, pretty forgetful ascent. Busy/crowded

10 months ago

Daily trail always awesome with the prize at the top

10 months ago

What a hike! Uphill for most of the trail but well worth the climb.

hiking
10 months ago

My family did this hike Labor Day weekend. This was a good hike, the beginning was a challenge. An uphill battle, coupled with the hot sun! There is a stretch that is completely exposed, it felt like a good while before we were in the shade again. Bring a lot of water. My husband and I brought our two little ones. He had an Osprey Child Carrier for our 2 yr old and I wore our baby, 4 months old, in a Tula carrier. They did very well on the hike, we just made sure to go hard for as long as they could handle and took as many breaks as they needed. Which, to our surprise, wasn't many! Our toddler wanted to walk most of the hike, and our baby slept in the Tula for most of the hike. We picnicked and swam at the Lake, but bring slippers or water shoes if you are going in the lake, the rocks hurt bad! Lol
Also, if you have a bit of a load like we did, make sure to use trekking poles. They were a tremendous help in balance, and helped take the load off the legs a little.
BTW, we both have nothing but good things to say about both carriers. The Osprey Poco AG is as light as it can be for as strong as it has to be. And my daughter was so comfortable in it. The Tula is also amazing. My baby feels as though she is being held or hugged the whole time, and she would fall asleep so fast once we would get started. And a plus, they were both very comfortable for myself and my husband to wear. Just make sure you take the time to really adjust them to fit you properly.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice hike. Great views. Basically a up and back, climb up walk back down about 2 or so miles each way. I would not recommend for fishing as it seems like the lakes are shallow enough to freeze solid in the winter, no signs of fish that I saw. Pretty lakes though. When the main trail hits the first lake if you keep left you will see the others, or check the map.

hiking
10 months ago

this was a beautiful hike. biggest downside was all the people! otherwise, really good challenge. mostly uphill from the start, and pretty exposed. bring lots of water!! the lakes were beautiful, and the views and rocks were amazing. definitely worth the challenge!

hiking
10 months ago

Not too hard to get to the Five Lakes, mostly uphill. Took us 46 minutes to get to the end of this trail. Would do it again.

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