Sand Ridge and the Five Lakes Basin

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Tahoe National Forest

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.

Length10.8 miElevation gain1,696 ftRoute typeLoop
BackpackingCampingHikingHorseback ridingNature tripsWalkingBird watchingRunningDog friendlyForestLakeViewswild-flowersWildlifeSnow
Waypoints (9)
1
Trailhead
Forest Rte 17
39.3992541, -120.6371924
2
Island Lake
Trail
39.3957787, -120.6220576
3
Round Lake
Trail
39.3952703, -120.6147532
4
Long Lake campsite
39.3992, -120.61435
5
Milk Kake camp
39.39595, -120.60773
6
Trail fork - Go Left
39.39565, -120.60499
7
Trail Fork - Go Right
39.39835, -120.60356
8
Five lakes basin
Several cute lakes, stone fire ring
39.40652, -120.56573
9
Glacier Lake Camp
Tahoe National Forest
39.3979856, -120.5578743
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (80)
Photos (527)
Recordings (68)
Completed (263)
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Michael Lerner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
HikingGreat!

Did this on Sunday 10/18. Great hike, and hardly anyone on the trail. Yes, it’s 2.7 miles of bumpy dirt road to get to the trailhead, but it’s not atrocious - 4WD and high clearance helpful. Beautiful lakes, the forest itself, and views from Sand Ridge. A great circuit with a lot of variety. I had Glacier Lake all to myself for lunch at 1pm. I also scrambled up to the saddle beyond there - no path, mostly boulder hopping, but it was only 20 minutes and a cool view. The few people I saw were mostly doing this as a backpacking loop, but it can certainly be done as a long day hike.

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Jon Bryant
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 2, 2020
Hiking

Outstanding hike on a beautiful Autumn day and the last day of September. Well marked trail the entire time. Fall colors are coming out. Really dry and crispy up there though. Too many fires right now. Please be extra cautious out there! This trail says 10.8 but my GPS tracked 12.1. Not sure where that extra mile came from. It was all beautiful.

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Carlos Guzman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 26, 2020
Hiking

Great hike. The trail took us about 5 hours of actual walking but with stops to appreciate the lakes and brakes in between it took us about 7 hours. We saw about three backpacking groups, will come back for sure.

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Chris Lynch
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Backpacking

Fantastic backpacking trip. Took the family on this 12 mile round trip over the Labor day weekend and were surprised it was not busier. Arrived around 5pm on Friday and had no problem parking at the Carr Lake Campground trailhead. Only made it 1 mile before setting up camp at lovely Island Lake. Our goal was the five lakes basin another 5 miles. Could not find the trail for the five lakes so we set up at the first lake after descending Sand Ridge. This was also a great choice with only 2 other campers around this lake. The following day we did a day-hike to the 5 lakes which would have been very difficult with packs on! After 2 nights at our campsite we trudged up to Granite Lake at the base of the Black Buttes and took that trail back to Carr Lake and the end of our trip. Very happy we did the loop in this direction.

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ZENA LUU
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 26, 2020
HikingBugsRocky

Getting to this trail was not easy. I suggest an AWD /4WD. The view here is epic. Not an easy trail with a pack. It is doable in a day If you are a local. But if you are coming from afar highly suggest to spend the night and enjoy.

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Nicole Fletcher Roberts
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 7, 2020
Hiking

Hiked on Saturday July 4th. We got an early start. It was a long, bumpy dirt road to get to the parking lot. Thankfully we have a Jeep. We started at Carr Lake. It was pretty crowded already. It was a holiday so we knew it was going to be busier than normal. The hike was amazing! A gradual incline made it very enjoyable. The views were spectacular and the lakes were beautiful. We swam in Island lake, Five lakes Basin and glacier lake. It was nice and refreshing. I highly recommend!

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Nick Zoho
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 6, 2020

Parking lot was packed. The trail is easy to follow. Camped near Glacier Lake below the Black Buttes. Summited the Buttes, the views were well worth it.

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Yuval Shavit
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 20, 2020
HikingBugsFloodedMuddySnow

Definitely recommend! We ended up doing 12 miles and two stops (glacier and carr lakes). We usually stick to 3 things for a hike: water, food and good vibe! but, bring bug spray. There were a lot of bugs, which was fine but would be more fun with bug spray. conditions are optimal now (June), lakes are VERY cold but it was awesome jumping in after a 12 mile hike.

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Alex K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 13, 2020
Backpacking

Gorgeous hike. Trail is clear and easy to follow. Elevation gains are manageable. We stopped at the Five Lakes Basin area and camped for the night. Absolutely gorgeous. Lakes / ponds EVERYWHERE.

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Robin Murphy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2019
HikingRocky

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!

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Scott Anderson
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Hiking

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

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Mike Wasden
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 30, 2019
Hiking

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.

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Hiroko A
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 6, 2019
Hiking

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.

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Autumn J
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 13, 2018

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

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Jeff Schwein
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 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.

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Tiffany Eng
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 23, 2018
Hiking

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.

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elisa stollmeyer
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This is a beautiful and sacred area. Beautiful views!

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Steven Kieffer
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Hiking

My favorite place!

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Joan Rusche
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Backpacking

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.

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John Mead
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 16, 2017
Backpacking

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.

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Sarita Upadhyay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 13, 2017
Backpacking

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.

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Elijah H
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 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!

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Craig Danby
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 10, 2017
Backpacking

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

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

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Mark Pope
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 30, 2017
Backpacking

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.

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Whitney Larsen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 26, 2017
Backpacking

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!

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