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Mears Lake Valley Trail

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Tahoe National Forest

Mears Lake Valley Trail is a 5.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Norden, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.3 miles Elevation Gain: 977 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly


nature trips


bird watching



wild flowers



As of December 2019, the trail may be closed for the season. Check with the park before visiting. NOTE: You can pay to park at the campground to hike this trail. You may also park in the other campground and walk around the west side of the lake, which may add .2 to your hike. The trailhead is a bit tricky to find and there is a sign about .2 from the gate.

private property
6 months ago

Before we could even start the trail, we were stopped by signs that said PG&E owned the road on the south west side of the lake. We decided to go around the lake and try to find the trailhead but could not quite find it because of the snow. The hike around the lake was actually very fun and exciting since it was a clear day. It appears that this trail is closed for the winter

9 months ago

Everything Steve mentioned is correct did it today and ran into the same situation ( trail disappears after the road) I'll take a GPS next time and mark it if found . Great trail close to home and the lake is bonus when the hike is done . FYI spoke to the camp manger and she states the camp will be closed after Sunday and potentially closed all next season due to work being done on the dam that was supposed to happen this year but didn't so they were only open from August to now . Wish I had discovered this trail sooner.

9 months ago

There are so many things wrong with this trail listing you should know, but it was a nice afternoon hike. Stuff you need to know: 1. You can pay an extra car fee of $5.00 and park in the campground, and I am pretty sure if you paid nothing no one would care. 2. You could also park in the other campground and walk around the west side of the lake (over the dam) and access this trail. This would add likely an additional .2 to the distance each way. 3. You will have to walk past the sky mountain gate but that does not seem to be a problem. 4. Finding the trail head is a bit tricky, when I was there they had been doing some heavy tree clearing (think logging) but there is a sign. It is about .2 from the gate. The map is pretty accurate. 5. There actual track of the trail and what is shown on the map are almost never the same. You will be east of what is on the map most of the way. 6. About 1.8 miles from the trail head, 2.2 miles from the campground, you will hit a dirt road (this road is not on the map) and see a sort of trail continuing on the other side of the dirt road which is what the map shows. I followed it maybe .1 and it petered out to nothing. It was late in the day and if I had more time maybe I would have found more trail, but that was it for me. It was a nice fairly vigorous hike mostly shaded, it would not end up on list of favorites but it was a good late afternoon hike for me and the dog. And... I never saw another person.

Mon Aug 13 2018

Did this hike mid August. We backpacked as a one nighter 3 adults and 1 five year old. We were hoping to cross more bodies of water or creeks. Still a beautiful hike. It was short and can be done as a day hike. Saw lots of old bear poop, but had no bear activity overnight. It only costed us $5 a night to park our car at the campground as an “extra vehicle.” Did not have to pay for a campsite.

Sun Aug 06 2017

This was a nice hike. A good climb going up. Very beautiful. We took our dog and she loved it! There was evidence of bears although we didn't come across any. We don't make it to the end of the trail this time because of the rain but would like to another day. Take note, don't park in the campground you could get a ticket. The campground manager warned us because we parked near one of the access roads. She was nice about it but said don't do it again. The day use area charges a fee and is quite far. This hike would be best for folks camping at Lodgepole campground.

Thu Oct 08 2015

non-accessible. Only for overnight campers (14-DAY MINIMUM, $25/DAY!!!). At least per the map/directions. It's possible that you can park off the road and hike from there, but I'm not going to risk it. I ended up going to Loch Leven instead (a favorite).

12 days ago