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Sand Ridge and the Five Lakes Basin

MODERATE 69 reviews
#23 of 197 trails in

Sand Ridge and the Five Lakes Basin is a 10.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Emigrant Gap, 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 October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 10.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,696 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly




horseback riding

nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers



2 months ago

Great hike! There was still a bit of patchy snow on the ground and the lakes were frozen in spots but gorgeous views. Challenging climbs but leveled out often enough that the hike still felt doable. Only saw a couple people on the trail (with super cute dogs so no complaints!) Will definitely be back to explore more and go backpacking out here once it warms up a bit!

Nice trail. Pretty well marked. Only saw 2 other people all day.

3 months ago

I hiked this series of trails last Thursday, 9-26-19. Excellent weather: sunny (but not hot - mid 70's) and not a cloud in the sky, with a light breeze blowing in the afternoon. I saw a few people by Feeley Lake at the beginning, and a few more at the end -- otherwise, I had the entire trail to myself for the day. I recommend taking the Glacier Lakes trail towards Glacier Lake - there is some elevation gain but it's fairly gradual. Best part is coming up the rise about 10 minutes before you arrive at Glacier Lake -- you are greeted by the Black Buttes right in front of you, and it is awesome! Afterwards, continue the circuit up onto Sand Ridge Trail -- again, some elevation gain, but not terrible. Amazing views from the top of the ridge in all directions. I dipped my feet in at Glacier Lake while eating lunch and it was pretty dang cold, which is no surprise because it's fed by snowmelt from a patch about 500 feet away from the edge of the lake. On the way back I detoured to Round Lake for a moment and contemplated jumping in for a swim but by then the breeze had picked up a bit and I decided against it. Saw multiple fish jumping in both of these lakes. The road between Bowman Lake Rd and Carr campground is passable in a high clearance vehicle, no 4WD necessary. The last mile +/- of the road is the worst, just gotta take it slow. I got bit a mosquito in the first half hour walking past one of the swampy ponds between Feeley and Island Lakes. Other than that, didn't see any bugs the whole day.

6 months ago

7-6-2019: There are still too much snow on the trail. You definitely gps to navigate all that snow and downed trees. I would wait another few weeks to do this hike. Being said this, wild flowers were amazing on high point on Sand Ridge trail.

Mon Aug 13 2018

The ascent up Sand Ridge Trail can be difficult, but beautiful views from the top. Beautiful and not heavily trafficked.

Mon Aug 13 2018

Great 4 day hike. Late start camp at Island Lake, 5 Lakes via Sand Ridge, Glacier Lake, Round Lake, out. 5 adults, 2 kids. Meteors.

Mon Jul 23 2018

Gorgeous views all around, especially from the Sand Ridge trail! There seems to be quite a number of off trail camping options at some unnamed lakes towards the end of the trail. Highly recommend swimming at Island Lake. Bring a high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead and make sure that your tires are solid because the road to get there is rough. One member of our group returned from our trip to find a slow leak in his back tire despite driving a truck.

Wed Jun 06 2018

This is a beautiful and sacred area. Beautiful views!

Sun May 13 2018

My favorite place!

Sun Oct 29 2017

Excellent hike with beautiful scenery and so many lakes you will never be wanting! Last 4 miles to the trailhead are on dirt road at 10 mph but the time is totally worth it!

Fri Sep 01 2017

Hiked this trail from the Grouse Ridge Campground trail head. Trail to Glacier Lake was easy to follow, trail to Five Lakes Basin was not. That's ok. We found the lake, and had it to ourselves. There are at least three developed campsites at Five Lakes. At this time of year the water is warm, and we enjoyed swimming. The dog enjoyed the trail.

Sun Jul 16 2017

Great loop with really cool views. Lots of fun lakes to swim in and have fun around. Only downside is it's very trafficked. If you don't mind camping near others then you wouldn't be bothered. Only reason it didn't get a 5 was the amount of people. Good trail overall.

Thu Jul 13 2017

We had a great time on this trail! It was still snowy when we were there, so good GPS through AllTrails was key. It's also dog-friendly - a huge plus for us. The one drawback of this trail is that it seems to be very well-trafficked, so it may not be as secluded as some other less beautiful trails. However, I understand why so many people want to visit - its got gorgeous lakes and streams and beautiful wildflowers.

Mon Jul 10 2017

Nice walk not super strenuous. Late start on a Monday. We arrived at the lot around 1100. People were leaving as we were walking in. People were arriving when we left around 1400. Hiked, swam, and ran. We had a good time so did the dog!

Mon Jul 10 2017

I am taking my kids here on Wednesday, looking for an update on Trail and Lake conditions, backpacking into Glacier Lake or 5 Lakes Basin. Will we use the Sand Ridge Trail. Thanks for the updates! Craig

Tue Jul 04 2017

Been coming here for 2-3 decades and I never tire of its beauty.

Fri Jun 30 2017

Great backpacking and hiking area. Beautiful views. We camped at Milk Lake and hiked to Penner. Old Sand Ridge Trail is still buried in snow. We will return later this summer. Met backpackers that fished Penner and Island with no luck. Water is ice cold.

Mon Jun 26 2017

Gorgeous hike. There were a lot of people at the trailhead, but we lost everyone once we started the loop. There is still quite a bit of snow as of 6/24, though its compressed so you can walk on it. We got lost a few times. Having a GPS or a good maps is necessary and compass. We didn't do the full loop - we did the northern part on the Sand Ridge Trail, which was completely accessible. The southern part of the loop (on the Glacier Lake Trail) looked very snowy. Lots of beautiful lakes to camp around!

Wed Jun 07 2017

My favorite place to backpack. Typically I stop at Island Lake, pick a spot and camp there. Swimming during the day. Absolutely beautiful here. Fishing is good here too!

3 months ago

5 months ago

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