Grouse, Hemlock, and Smith Lake Trail

MODERATE 28 reviews
#12 of 77 trails in

Grouse, Hemlock, and Smith Lake Trail is a 5.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pollock Pines, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.5 miles
1745 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips





wild flowers


4 days ago

25 days ago

26 days ago

1 month ago

This was a fantastic hike- made it to Smith which was snow covered and gorgeous. It's on the moderate-to soft hard, totally doable and worth it if your in good shape. Considering there are much more difficult hikes near- longer and more gain I would not rate it "hard". But a good challenge. Go to the top it's beautiful!!! Will not be able to follow to trail to smith but use some type of gps tracker or trust going straight up from grouse and tracking through snow.

1 month ago

1 month ago

I went to the Grouse lake today. 7/11.1 big patch of snow I had to cross otherwise trail is easy to find and the lake is ice free. I Will try getting to Hemlock and Smith in a few weeks since the trail looked covered with snow still. The water runoff from Smith looked gorgeous.

1 month ago

10 months ago

Beautiful trail, a steep incline-definitely tougher than moderate.
Grouse lake is a perfect spot to stop and eat before heading on to the next 2 lakes.
Definitely would do it again

11 months ago

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Amazing hike so peaceful on a Monday! Grouse Lake was gorgeous and water even warm enough to swim a bit. Great spot to eat lunch and relax! Must hike!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bit of a difficult trail but very enjoyable. Got to the parking lot at 9am on Saturday and it was mostly full. Quiet hike up but ran into lots of hikers on my way back down. Fitbit tracked this at a little over 5 miles round trip to just Grouse Lake. Will definitely do again and possibly stay overnight. Hiking poles would have been helpful on this hike.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This is a more difficult trail than moderate if you go all the way to Smith Lake. It is also longer that the stated my Fitbit and GPS both put it around 7 miles give or take a 10th or so. Nice trail though with great views of Wright's , Union and Icehouse lakes. Hike early to beat crowds this time of year as the trail is narrow for larger groups.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This, in my opinion, is not a moderate hike, but a lovely one. I left the trail head just after noon and made it to Grouse right at 2. Grouse Lake was definitely worth the struggle. I went there on a weekday and was the only one at the lake. I was hoping to swim, but the water was still too cold. Like everyone already says, when you're almost to the top the trail kind of ends with a creek at the left and you have to cross the creek hopping rocks to pick the trail back up. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Saturday, June 04, 2016

I have met quite a few people doing this hike that want to give up just before they get to the first lake. Grouse Lake Trail ascends very aggressively and is not for the faint of heart! It is quite vigorous and requires good footing as well.
The trail turns to the left, (feels like it might not end its vigorous elevation gain), and looks like a creek that you cross over on stones. To the right you see steeper rocks that could be climbed to get to Grouse, but the official trail goes to the left and is easier. Don'f give up at that creek. Just rest with the skeeters, then resume and get the reward of at least Grouse Lake! Take water because you will sweat for this prize! Wear reliable shoes! Trekking poles help me so much!
I did 6+ miles by roaming up the north ridge of Smith Lake and over the spillway. Since I last went, I heard someone has vandalized the bridge and that they do not intend to fix it. Smith is gorgeous!!! It has forest and a few hidden campsites on the north-ish side and the high bowl walls on the other sides except for the west that has long, beautiful views and sunsets. The trail is pretty good, but strenuous in some sections. You can get a little lost, but keep looking around yourself and you can find the trail ahead. My GPS helped the first time up, and there is a clear trail that runs fairly parallel to the runoff from the Smith Lake dam. It traverses mildly and heads downward more directly, without bushwhacking, and gets you on a more level easy trail pretty quickly.
Hemlock is amazingly gorgeous, but without the distant views seen earlier along the way and at Smith. Super clear water!
I love this hike! PS. Don't bother building cairns. The wilderness policy is to break them down. If you rely on them, not your own observations on the way, they may be gone by the time you return!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Amazing trail! It is listed as difficult on the entry sign. It is not an easy trail.