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

First 4 miles uphill, the rest is downhill, except for short push up the Castle point. Great for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, bouldering, it’s a great hike with great views! December 13, 2018, no snow on trail, some water in the streams.

Love this location for its sweeping views, rock formations, waterfall and camping

This is a fun, moderate hike. The day we went it was incredibly windy, but we decided to soldier on. The hike below tree line is quiet and serene with moss-covered trees and typical fall foliage. We hiked in early fall, so no wildflowers, but it was still a gorgeous hike. We began our hike at 0730 and saw only hunters scouting for the upcoming hunting season as we ascended. The views are even more beautiful once you emerge from treeline with towering rock formations, exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the 3 lakes that frame this particular trek. Kirkwood Ski Resort seems almost touchable from a portion of the trail. The trail is rated as moderate and I agree, so if you are a novice hiker, pace yourself as the trail has few "level" areas with the exception of a couple saddles that give your legs (and lungs) a welcome break. Arrive early so you can summit and return without feeling rushed.

The summit itself is rather small, craggy, and requires a bit of scrambling to reach it. There are several small trails that lead to the summit, some easier than others, so choose carefully and remember to stay within your climbing ability.

It took us around 3ish hours to summit, walking at an easy pace and stopping to snap photographs along the way.

As we descended, we were glad we arrived early as we passed a steady stream of hikers on their way up.

All in all, a very nice hike. Remember to bring your camera or phone because the views are breathtaking. And honestly, what better way is there to make friends and family envious than to show them spectacular photographic evidence! :)

Loved this trail! Easy for kids and dogs.

24 days ago

Really beautiful throughout the entire hike. - varied terrain and good amounts of shade. I agree with previous folks, it’s windy and well marked. Tons of bear scat - didn’t see or hear any, but they are definitely around. I also saw and heard quite a few hunters first thing this morning.

A wonderful hike with a group of people today. We started at the trail head and went clockwise. A lot of climbing in the first 4 miles. Great hike and would do it again.

pretty trail
very windy up on Thunder Mountain, make sure to grab some layers and ear muffs (or whatever protects your ears:) )
I think I ended up doing the loop backwards because I got the crazy incline in the beginning along with beautiful mountain views and then gradually descended too 7,100 followed by some uphill action at the very end to get back to the parking lot.

easy and astonishing veiws.

Great hike and views all around.

1 month ago

There are quite a few deceiving turns for this trip.

My boyfriend and I backpacked to Granite Lake in June 2018. After turning off of the main highway, the dirt road that you turn down doesn't look like the correct way, but it is the correct path. Then you go through a neighborhood past cabins; make sure you look at your map because you might miss your turn.

While hiking up to the lake, we did take a wrong turn, so we backtracked. It wasn't way off course, though, and we didn't mind since we were hiking anyway. However, if you're one who is strongly against going off course, look at the app frequently.

We got to the lake and set up camp along the back side. We were the only ones there, so it couldn't have been any better. There is ample water to filter from since there are many streams and a rushing creek. It really is beautiful up there! However, we went during the WORST possible time: mosquito season. Gosh, we had never seen such large mosquitoes in the densest clouds making the loudest buzzing. We'd look up and they'd swarm around us. They did clear up at night, though.

We had plenty of firewood and an established fire pit. The night and lake were still except for the few duck visitors. There were also a couple of beautiful blue jays, and we could hear a bird with a distinct song. It was literally three notes: B-A-A.

If you're looking for a beginner backpacking destination, this place is worth considering!

Great hike. First part nice and gentle going down to the lake through the woods followed by a steep but progressive climb of 2000 feet to the top. It’s very dry and dusty now but the view over the Sierras remains spectacular.

To make this hike a little more interesting – as well as difficult – we climbed Thunder Mountain then walked over to Thimble Peak on the ridge above Kirkwood to the south. At 9805’, Thimble is about 400’ higher than Thunder, but a couple decent drops along the ridge make it all add up to about 800’ and 4 miles of extra hiking. The route to Thimble starts at the Horse Canyon Trail junction just below Thunder, then basically follows the ridge except in a couple places where it dips below on the west side to avoid large rocky outcrops. There’s not really a trail, but a faint footpath can be followed most of the way—nothing tricky or dangerous, just more miles and more climbing. At the summit there’s some moderate scrambling, though we avoided the actual highpoint in favor of sitting atop an adjacent spire that looked no more than 5’ lower. I’m too old (and too wise?) to try Class 3 climbs these days, and Thimble’s real summit block looked particularly harrowing. Nonetheless, we felt like we were sitting on top of the world and views in all directions were marvelous. Adding Thimble Peak to the standard Thunder Mountain hike made for a moderate-paced hiked that clocked in at 7 hours, 11.8 miles and 2851’ of elevation gain. Thimble Peak is a strenuous but adventurous and highly recommended option to the popular Thunder Mountain hike.

Wild flowers are now pretty much gone. Granite Lake is a nice little alpine lake but Hidden lake is nothing more than a glorified pond. If you are hiking for the exercise then walking to Hidden Lake is worthwhile. If your going to see a nice classic Sierra lake don’t bother. At least the mosquitoes are gone.

Fun, easy hike. Great for cooling off in the pools of water. Would be a good hike for kids.

Short, easy hike from road to a fun little swim spot. Was pretty packed on a Monday... probably insane on a weekend day I'd bet. Water shoes not needed, but you wouldn't regret bringing them. Very exposed and the rocks radiate much heat, so bring plenty of water.

I enjoyed this hike, but did not do the full loop. I went about 4 miles out, following the ridge above Kirkwood. It's got magnificent views and lots of wildflowers. A note for those who hike with dogs: I went the second week of July and there were no natural water sources for them along that part of the trail. So bring enough water for your dogs. Even though I brought water, my dogs were still hot and tired by the time I got back to the trailhead.

I hiked Thunder Mountain on July 14,2018. I have done many hikes and this hike was one of the prettiest hikes I have done. Due to late snow melting and a mild summer so far, this trail was decorated with hundreds of wildflowers and greenery. It felt magical walking through it.

The total miles to the summit and back is 8 miles. I suggest leave very early as most of the trail is exposed to sun. Also, the actual summit is extremely small (maybe big enough for a handful of people). I started the trail at 7am and I was the only person on the trail. I had the summit to myself for 40 minutes. When I started to head back down, I must have passed 20-25 people coming up. The parking lot was completely full.

The trail has many sections that are flat which allow you to take a break and catch your breath. The inclines can sometimes get to 30-35%, but very doable.

This trail is going on my annual hiking list!

Great hike from hwy 88 trailhead to top of Thunder mountain summit. Actually 8.5 to top and back. Amazing wild flowers all along trail. Breathtaking views!

The trail is beautiful but poorly marked! I got so off track it ended up being 11 miles. I see many other have complained of the same issue.

Did this trail with my sister. It was my first time to squaw valley. It’s a very beautiful area. We were the first two to go on the updated trail. It’s a steady incline with a couple of mountain streams next to the trail. I used them dip my hat in and cool off. There are some really great meadows as well, and all the flowers were in bloom. It’s July, so it’s definitely a bit toasty. Make sure to bring a hat and sun block.

Excellent trail, though the trail markers leave a bit too much for the imagination. The eastern part is easy enough and quiet well marked, however after going through the parking lots where all the RVs are on the western side - the trail seems to be blocked off in a few places (maybe thats an old bit?) and forks off a few different ways.

Still was a good hike, snow melting made a few parts impassable and needed to hike around. All and all it ended up being a 10+ mile hike that was great, but the dog wasn't too happy about the extra length.

3 months ago

Steady climb all the way up. Completed this a couple different times with my swat team as a good team building exercise and a break from our urban area regular training. The guys loved it. We did it with our plate carriers and weapons so the extra irregular shaped and displaced weight added more to the challenge. Fantastic views at the top on a clear day. Highest elevation at the top was just under 10k ft.

Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve never seen so many wildflowers! Incredible views. I highly recommend this hike!

Great Vista with well maintained trail. Only went to top of Kirkwood and didn't complete loop but again the lie was tremendous

Neat little place to stop and take a dip!

I gave up trying to find this trail. Even the GPS did not help. Maybe it is an old trail. But we loved the 2.8 rt mile hike to Granite Lake. Loved the water fall at the bridge. There are harmless leeches in the lake. Very limited parking and it is a one lane road with a few pull outs to the trailhead.

There is still snow that turned some folks back (for us that meant we had the top all to ourselves). From theHwy 88 TH it's up all the way but most of the climb is gradual until you actually get to Thunder Mountain itself. After passing through some beautiful wildflower fields and beautiful vistas we climbed above tree line. There were some small sections that required a bit of scrambling but not too bad. Actually getting out to the "top" can be a bit tricky and potentially treacherous but the views will not disappoint.

The views were great BUT IT IS SO POORLY MARKED!!! We had to use notched trees and stacked rocks to navigate. This is 7.4 miles but we got so off course it needed up being 16! Also, the Ranger isn't on office till August!

It sucked. I wouldn’t recommend going.

Great scenic hike in Amador/Alpine county that leads to an even more scenic view when you reach the top. The weather is consistently great in the summer (perfect hiking temperature’s).

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