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

over the years it's got a little easier, there's still points that are challenging even with more advance drivers and built rigs. 33" tires can do the trail with a good spotter 35" tires and a locker would be advisable. great trail AMAZING views.

hiking
7 days ago

The first 4.5 mile was between easy and normal. However, the last 0.5 mile was hard. It took us 30-45 min to compete last 0.5 mile. The Lions Lakes is a reward ! we swam and took a nap before return. 6 hour to compete + 1.5 for photo, swimming and napping.

loved this hike with my family. my 7 year old daughter complained a lot until she saw the water fall and got to swim. she also swam in the lake and that made up for her complaining. it was fun for the family! you can picnic in the lagoons, lots of boaters came in and picnicked on the shore. the water is beautiful and turquoise for a lake. just loved it!

off road driving
14 days ago

Awesome

hiking
17 days ago

The hike is mis-rated as "hard". It's an easy hike for experienced hikers/backpackers. For the less experienced day hike crowd it's a moderate hike. I absolutely loved the scenery. The show stopper though is when you reach the top of the trail there's a sharp turn that unveils the lake. Simply breathtaking. Stopped me in my tracks.

With that said, if you're not partial to rocky trails and lots of loose rock and gravel, this is not the trail for you.

hiking
21 days ago

Nice mix of terrain but not much shade and can get hot, lakes and creek are nice place to cool off. On my trip to Island Lake we didn't see a lot of places to easily relax by the lake but we didn't explore all around the lake either. As others have stated, picking up the trail on the granite sections may be more difficult for newer hikers.

Fantastic hike. I recommend for experienced hikers only.

great run this morning along the lake with easy elevation gain. Didnt see anybody else on the trail so had this granite lake heaven trail all to myself.

This trail has become one of our favorite trails in the El Dorado/ Tahoe area. The views from the Hemlock and Smith Lake are amazing (there was even some snow on the northeast side of the lake, where the granite wall prevents the sun from reaching).
The full trail (back and forth) is 9.8 miles instead of 5.5 miles as originally reported (we had a tracking device that recorded the distance and altitude gain; and if you check the full map here and add the distances, you'll see that it's close to 5 miles one-way).
As mentioned before, the trail is well-visible until a certain point (up to where it splits with the Twin Lakes 16E12); from that point on, it's essential to have some guidance (the AllTrails map works great), keep an eyes on the stacked rocks too.
On our way back, we saw some commotion due to someone getting lost (there are too many splits) and the Rangers and El Dorado Police had to be called (when we got back to the parking lot, we heard that they had found the guy).

If you are going on a weekend, chances are that the parking lot by the trailhead will be full. Don't park by the cabins or by the road or you will get a ticket. Park at one of the two Wrights Lake parking lots.

This is a beautiful hike. 85-90% shaded the entire way. My suggestion is to park along Emigrant Trail near the 2nd dam (parking option 3 shown on the map) and take the lake clockwise. You have to walk through some camp areas but it never felt intrusive. Not a ton of signage, but if you are not sure which way to go just take the path that keeps you along the lake.

26 days ago

This was a really beautiful hike but I thought the trail could have been market better. We somehow veered left somewhere on the tail and ended up very lost and had to climb up a lot of rocks to get back to the trail. If you don’t get lost, this trail is great and the lake at the top is very refreshing on a warm day!

Had a great hike to the waterfall.

mostly rocky trail. great views of loon lake. saturday afternoon there are lots if backpackers. I probably passed 10 groups in 5 hours loon lake th to spider lake and back. $8 parking fee. nice trail i may go back with a kayak.

This trail was HARD. The way up to the base of the peak was easy, but up to the peak was hard. I’ll preface by saying I shouldn’t have done this because I was just getting over food poisoning and the entire hike still had bad stomach cramps. So do this in good health. We were a group of 4 and only 1 of us made it to the summit. We didn’t find the trail some people had mentioned (I should have read the reviews and followed people’s advice and directions). We just picked one side and tried to scramble to the top. Many loose boulders and steep sections. It took us ages just to get about halfway. The beating sun and scrambling really drained us. I had to stop because I had no energy left to continue and one person stayed behind with me. 2 kept going, but one returned after about 10-15 min because they reached a point that was completely vertical and he felt unsafe. The other guy kept going and was the only one to summit. It took him an additional 1hr 10min and he was going at a face pace, without the rest of us to slow him down. Going down was HARD as well and you must do this carefully. Loose boulders and gravel had me slipping a few times. I would rate this a 5 star but I took off a star because it was hard to find any trail up to the peak. Bring lots of water; another problem we had was not enough water. I’m 5’2”, 120lbs and 3 liters wasn’t enough for me. I’ll go back one day, find the better way up and conquer the peak!!!

Summary: trail to lake was gorgeous with wildflowers (very easy), need to go carefully up peak (difficulty more than hard), bring LOTS of water and sunscreen and lastly, don’t do it if you have stomach cramps. Total time taken and distance: ~7 hrs, ~13 miles for guy who finished)

UPDATE:
It turned out I had a kidney infection, so if you’re in top shape it’s definitely your peak to bag!

We went on a Saturday (got there at 8am) and found parking pretty easily ($5). Luckily a ranger was there and gave us a map because this trail isn't well marked. You go through a few campgrounds. It was loud most of the trail. We either heard cars or the large amount of people on the lake. We had to move often for other hikers (large groups). The waterfall was VERY crowded. If you are looking for a trail that's peaceful and relaxing this is not the trail for you. It's closer to 10 miles as well. The trail itself is good for all fitness levels I would say.

hiking
29 days ago

Nice hike with occasional views of the lake. We hiked out 3 mi, then turned back. There is little shade after 3 miles. TH is in the Loon Lake campground. Daily fee is $8, but we were camping in the park so no charge. Lake was a refreshing 75 degrees..Water clear as Donner or Tahoe.

hiking
1 month ago

I went back to hike this trail the second time this summer and there are more wildflowers past Twin Lakes due to snow melt. The small ponds/giant puddles are fully evaporated by now, making is easier to hike. The path up to Island Lakes is difficult to find, but once you see the trail, it's all good from there!

off road driving
1 month ago

An amazing trail with several fun crawling spot and extremely beautiful

on Lyons Creek Trail

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice hike but definitely moderate not hard. In addition to the lakes the meadows and wild flowers through the first few miles are beautiful. Start early!

Even though listed mileage is 7.6 miles our hike once around plus the side route to the waterfall and back was over 9 miles according to my GPS. Nice single path trail with easy footing. Shade most of the way. Restrooms along the way. Dog friendly as they can drink from the lake the whole way. The waterfall is worth seeing.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Trail is now dry so no more slop (as of July 7). I think it's a very different hike when wet vs. dry - would rate this "moderate" vs "hard" during dry season, although the last half-mile up to Lyons is pretty steep.

Lots of wildflowers and super pretty right now!

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked to Island Lake July 6-8 and loved it. The area is super beautiful and is only a 3-4 mile hike from the trailhead. One day we did a day hike up to Mount Price and get a look at Lake Aloha. Overall a great place for a low mileage backpacking trip! Here is my full report with pics: https://backpackersreview.wordpress.com/trip-reports/desolation-wilderness-twin-lakes/

Great trip to pyramid peak this weekend. Trail from lake sylvia to the ridge was in and out. Once we got to ridge heading to pyramid peak we also lost trail in and out due to rock scrambling. This trail was no joke, but led to beautiful views. Following instructions to look for notch at SSE side of sylvia and staying on ridge to pyramid peak were our guiding forces to make it even without consistent trail. Wild flowers are out, but sun is intense once you hike past sylvia; lots of sunscreen and water. Water filter is great from sylvia to lyons trailhead since the creek follows trail, not much to access up toward pyramid.

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked in on the 3rd and out on the 5th. Wrights Lake Road is now open again for access, so you don't need to go through Ice House Road. it's a much shorter drive to and from US50 from Wrights Lake Road to the trailhead. The trail is pretty clearly marked, and parts where it wasn't, we went ahead and rebuilt some of the cairns that had appeared to have fallen apart. When you get closer to the lake, there are 2 paths that will take you on either side of the lake. Do not attempt to go around the lake, since there are unstable boulders and no clearly defined path. Instead, go back to the area near the shallow water fall just below the lake, and go in either direction, you should be able to find the trails easily from this point. I brought my ultralight fishing gear and caught a lot of brook trout. Luckily the fishing was good because we had left a few packs of food at home so we were a bit short. There wasn't much in the way of wildlife up there, but we saw some marmots and chipmunks. The wind up there was pretty bad over the few days, but otherwise it was a beautiful, relaxing time at this less populated lake in Desolation Wilderness.

Headed out from Twin Lakes headed to Lois Lake. Made it as far as Maud before we got too tired. We only had one night so we decided to stay at Maud. Not an easy trail, it's hard to see, rocky, and narrow at times. Bring a map and compass. Beautiful trail.

Gentle, well-shaded hike. I would also suggest entering at the southeast entrance off of Mormon Emigrant Trail and heading to the waterfall and back. This route is much more serene and less congested than doing the full loop; the north and west sides of the lake have many campsites and considerably more people.

I would definitely rate this as hard, especially because the trail from Hemlock to Smith is marked as "primitive." I found it hard to catch the spot where you take a hard left up into the rocks. I wasn't sure if I was off trail, so I sat down until I saw someone else arrived who used their GPS to find the trail. After being at the top I came back down to find two hikers lost in the same spot that I was. Just keep an eye out for stacked rocks to the left to find that final steep ascent.

The parking lot at the trail head was open as of 7/7/18. The wildflowers were incredible! And the water running down beside the first part of the trail was serene. I dunked in at Smith Lake and felt so refreshed. Will be coming back soon to see it again.

Did the whole loop in 2 1/2 days with my 11y and 13y old sons. Rockbound pass was amazing. You go up this 10k year old trail. Easy path until you get to lake Schmidell. Past Schmidell towards McConnell Lake, Horseshoe lake to 4-Q lakes to camper Flat you better have really good map reading skills and compass or GPS because it's not marked. Walk slow look for rock stacks cuz I got lost many times, had to back track and look at the map and compass those 10miles but let me tell you the view is out of National Geographic magazine. 24.3 miles in 2 days with an 11y and 13y old.

on Island and Twin Lakes

1 month ago

Beware the trail as pictured past Twin Lakes dissolves into a rocky hard scramble and unsafe water crossing trying to get back to Twin Lakes. I wouldn't recommend it for others to follow.

This hike around the lake is easily accomplished in around 3-4 hours depending on your pace. I would rate this hike as an easy day trip. You will need water, sun screen, and comfortable shoes. There are restrooms and the trail is close to the lake the duration of the hike.

This hike is full of great scenery. I would suggest hiking the eastern side of the lake starting from the main entrance and turning around from the waterfall, instead of doing the full loop. This side of the lake is less congested, offers the most shade, and you can track a 10 mile hike this way instead of 8 miles.

The waterfall is big and has a swimming hole at the bottom. I found a rope swing along the way and plenty of fishing spots. There are benches to take lunch breaks along the hike and make sure you are cautious for snakes. I almost stepped on one this second time around.

Load More