Explore the most popular trails near Olympic Valley with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.




nature trips



Olympic Valley, California Map

Beautiful hike. The first third of it feels deceivingly easy because of the waterfalls. The next third is a grueling dry climb - be sure to have plenty of water. You are rewarded with reaching Shirley lake - be ready to swim, you will be tempted. The last third is steady uphill with easier terrain - mostly dirt road. Great hike for strong dogs. (If your dog is an English Bulldog- this hike is not a good idea for your four-legged friend!).

Great walking and climbing combo at the end you can get back to the city in a Tram where they have a pool and restaurant.

Great trail! Beautiful creeks and a lake to cool off in, and if you make it to the top of squaw you can use the pool and have lunch! Hike back down or take the gondola for free!

10 days ago

I stay at Squaw Valley a lot and this is one of my favorite hikes. it’s definitely tricky to follow in the beginning I’ve done this so many times, as well as going off on all the alternate trails, that I have a good sense of it now but it took a while. Key is to always veer to the right when you get to the first sign that says granite chief trail keep following to the right there’s several other trails that intersect that are not real trails just stick to the right and you’ll find it. all trails map helps a lot. once you get in a little over a mile some people have put yellowish orange paint in certain places to mark where the trail goes over the rocks as well as some cains. but again when in doubt follow towards the right and you’ll pick up the trail.
I encourage you to go beyond Granite chief onto the PCT it’s just incredibly beautiful with amazing views. I always take this left over to High camp so I can take the tram down. note if you do this it can be very tricky/scary to get to high camp there’s two options you can climb up the hill straight after you pass tervis cup trail then take the road down to high camp, adds some extra time. or you can veer to the left to take the very very small not well traveled trail but it will require a little bit of rock climbing and scrambling down. not for the faint of heart and actually potential for injury. but I’ve made it OK each time I’ve done it.
once you are at High camp there is a pool there’s also a restaurant there’s lots of outdoor seating and the tram runs down every 15 minutes it’s free if you hike up and tram down.

Good tuff hike. Mix of single track , bouldering and scrambling. Then you wand up at High Camp for a dip in the pool, and tram ride back down. Better bring it.

HARD! steep and a lot of just sheer buldering. But it isawesome to work your way up the forest line.
Saw a lot of people not prepared for the length and the incline: bring water and electrolights because you will need them!

Loved every minute of this hike. Nice variety of scenery... Well marked rocks help guide your way up!!! Perfect weather for a little plunge in Shirley Lake and a free tram ride down from high camp.

this trail was incredible! we were astonished at how many different terrains and environments we encountered on our hike. if you want to walk through meadows, alpine forests, rainforests, deserts, boulder fields, and mountain ridges all in the span of 4 hours, then this is the trail for you.

we hiked up granite chief trail, then hooked up with the pacific crest and walked down to high camp to take the tram down. it was definitely a long hike, especially with the elevation gain, but not overly technical or difficult. if you're okay with a steady uphill and you've got sturdy shoes, it's a really satisfying hike. i would recommend starting out early--we started around 10 and it was already pretty hot (until we got up to the PCT).

a lot of other reviewers mention that the trail is difficult to follow, and in some places i agree--there are a few stretches of boulders where the trail mostly disappears. when in doubt, keep going up the mountain (you'll find the trail again before you get lost) or check the alltrails map. there's great service all the way up and the app's trail is accurate. i would argue that the easiest place to get lost is at the very beginning--if you don't know what to look for, it's very easy to end up on the shirley canyon trail.

overall, this hike was amazing. it had great views and scenery all the way up. if you have enough food and water, you can hike the ridge all the way around the ski basin--the PCT links to a trail that will take you farther up. it's also nice having high camp there to refill water/get food/take the tram (for free!). if i were to recommend one tahoe hike to a visitor, this would be it!

Beautiful hike! Made it to Shirley lake then continued on to High Camp. So many gorgeous wildflowers. It's not easy - Lots of rock scrambling. further up as you head higher in elevation it can be tough but a fantastic hike. I met 71 year old jack and his (it's really his neighbor's) dog Lucy who do this hike everyday. He's a badass and he lead me from just past the halfway point to the top.

My family did the hike this morning. Started at the bottom, and hiked to the lake where the kids enjoyed the lake. Trail can be challenging, but take your time! We then hiked to the top, and had some drinks at the pool. Caught the gondola back down. If you hike up, the gondola down is free. It's $10 to swim at the pool up top. Looked like a cool place to hang, but we traveled back down. Definitely gets your heart pumping!

So hard!!! A lot of climbing straight up rocks. But GORGEOUS and a great workout. Highly recommend.

The reviews were confusing before I went. That's because there are two ways to get to the lake. Many ride the gondola to High Camp, which allows you to hike to Lake Shirley, w young children. If you do the actual climb from the bottom, (CCC alumni here) it is tough. Do not attempt if you are not in shape.
If you make it to Lake Shirley, you may as well keep going up to High Camp. It's 3.82 miles to High Camp from the trailhead at the bottom with close of an 2,000 elevation gain. Caught the last gondola ride before close. The gondola is dog friendly, Which was a huge plus. Definitely will do this again in the fall.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike
We crossed the river at the beginning and stayed on the side to avoid the people as it was pretty crowded

Great views it’s worth it when you get to the top

It was not an easy hike. Some parts were of course but scaling the 300ft wall to get to the other section was a bit of a leg burner. We did get to the lake and we were hiking in 88 degree weather. So with that we were more than happy to jump in the lake. I would recommend this hike waterfalls and beautiful landscaping just bring water it can get warm out there. loved that we did it.

This is an amazing hike. Today was my third time. Two times have been successful to the top, and one was thwarted by snow. My husband, myself and two boys did it three years ago (they were 10 and 7), on a slightly overcast day in July. Temps were probably in the 70's. My husband and I attempted it in late April, and there was still too much snow to get to the top without snowshoes. The hike itself is really not that difficult, but a couple variables will really up the difficulty... On a hot, sunny (no relief from any clouds) day, it's quite difficult to get to the summit. Our group included two very fit grandparents in their mid 60's, two boys now 13 and 10 and a fit 43 yo. The last section past Shirley Lake was tougher than I remember, and if I could do this again, I would not bring my parents beyond the granite slope/boulder portion. If you live in altitude, it may not be an issue. If you live closer to sea level, perhaps take caution to go on a day where it's a bit more overcast, and make sure to bring plenty of water and food. The members of our group declined food, and if i knew what I know now, sandwiches at Shirley lake would have been mandatory!

Beautiful views! The hike will take your breath away!!!

great trail a bit tough. not for weak of heart. last section needs help. slippery steep gravel road

Not as bad as you think. some technical sections but we did it with our 3 year old daughter. Took it slow plenty of water to play in. 2000 feet vertical to get to the top, but free ride down, and only 10 bucks to swim in the pool.

1 month ago

July 2018: I wish I had listened to the reviews! The hike starts in beautiful terrain but beware, this Granite Chief Trail is very very poorly marked. There’s a sign at the beginning, and then no markers whatsoever. This isn’t a problem in the wooded areas, where you can lose and find the trail in a few minutes, but it’s really problematic when you are scrambling over granite boulders, which start about 45 minutes in. I gave up and crossed over to the Shirley Lake Canyon trail. I’m a very experienced hiker and had never been in this area before, and this was incredibly frustrating. I don’t recommend this trail unless you are with someone familiar with it.

Everything you could want in a hike. Woods, waterfalls, pools, lots of dogs, wildflowers, a swimming hole, and extraordinary vistas. Definitely worth continuing to High Camp and taking the gondola down. Beautiful!

One of my favorite hikes. It’s challenging as much as it is breathtaking. Every section of the hike brings something new whether it be hiking through a flat, forested area or climbing rocks alongside a series of cascading waterfalls or scaling a huge granite side of a mountain. A lot of people underestimate this hike. Be prepared for it to take at least 3 hours and bring plenty of water and snacks.

As others have suggested, instead of turning around at the lake we continued the final mile or so to High Camp at the top. Be prepared if you intend to do this as it does add about 800 feet in additional elevation gain to the climb. Trail was steep and technical, but well-marked, with plenty of good views. The first mile or so is more wooded and follows the stream rather closely, with plenty of waterfalls and pools to enjoy. The terrain gets rockier and steeper in the second leg, and becomes more exposed- make sure you have plenty of water and take frequent breaks. The lake is a good spot to stop for a while. The final stretch up to High Camp is unpaved road, which means loose gravel and steep inclines, and it's completely exposed to sun and wind. It's a bit of a bear to get up but is entirely worth the views of lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. There are all manner of activities in High Camp, and the gondola ride back down is indeed free. It deposits you right in the village, so you can go straight from the top of the ridge to enjoying a meal with friends in about ten minutes. Had a fantastic time on this trail, it's tough but rewarding.

Incredible hike through treed areas, along a creek, up a rock face, and past lots of wildflowers. Strenuous because of the scrambling and steepness (at times) but there are lots of kids on the trail including ours that did great. Continued past beautiful Lake Shirley to High Camp, stopping for some snow ball play. Swam at the pool and played then took the tram back down.

Breathtaking! Brilliant wildflowers are still in bloom!

This is a great hike, just please use caution when reading different descriptions about it being easy. The hike is awesome but it is not easy. There is a lot of. climbing,/scrambling over rocks and plenty of times where you put your hands down. It is not long but it is a fairly continuous climb- sometimes steep. My GPS may have been off (no surprise) but it is also longer than 2.2 miles to the lake. I highly recommend continuing up from the lake (on the left side) to High Camp. This is a destination in itself a top Squaw Valley ski resort and where the aerial tram from the bottom comes to. The key here is that the tram is free for the ride down. If you plan to do this and it is not mid summer, make sure the tram is open when you go. I think this route is a lot more fun than hiking down all of the rocks you just climbed up.

1 month ago

Excellent trail. One of the best in the area- hike to the top and take the gondola down!

on Shirley Canyon

1 month ago

Great trail, beautiful views, and gorgeous waterfalls. We had our 3 kids and our dog and all did well. Definitely family friendly.

Beautiful hike with different sceneries from waterfalls, rivers, pond, wild flowers and forest. The trail has some shade on and off. Trail is marked. I would say this hike is moderate to difficult with gradual elevation. We hiked all the way to base camp and took the tram down for free. I would highly recommend this hike!

on Granite Chief Trail

1 month ago

sadly when i used this app to find directions it took me 1.5 miles away from the trail and ended up in a neighborhood. then reset my location again ,4x's then it took me back..... i finally had to ask someone snd they pointed me in the right direction, saw the sign for the trail and then nothing. i kept watching the app and because i found no other signs to keep me on trail and the app already took me wrong, i turned back and found shirley canyon trail....it was great. wish i could have found this trail

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