Five Lakes Trail – Lake Tahoe Hiking Trails
Among the foothills of the Granite Chief Wilderness sprawls the Five Lakes Trail – an absolutely stunning and contemplative hike featuring five beautiful alpine lakes. Although this is a very popular one, the lakes allow you some solitude. It’s a moderate 5 mile out-and-back hike round trip. The beginning of the trail starts out with a steep ascent, but it will even out in the second half of the hike. Approximately 1,000 feet is gained total. The first part of the hike is comprised of forested switchbacks with views of the Alpine Meadows Ski Area on your left. This is the most difficult section of the trek, surrounded by a thicket of Manzanita, mule ear, and snowberry, turning into a forest of Jeffrey Pines as you climb. Here you’ll come to a narrow traverse on the side of the open sandstone and granite canyon, where a priceless panorama of jagged ridge line splays before you. There are also some very unique and interesting rock formations at this point.
As the trail eases up, you will come to the edge of the Granite Chief Wilderness. The rewarding sights start with a massive granite wall, small streamlets snaking down in the spring and summer into tranquil lakes. Step into the cool blue water and cool off. These unnamed forest-rimmed lakes are a great place to swim, picnic, sunbathe, play fetch with Fido (this is a great dog hike), or even fish. You can clearly see Squaw Mountain rising up behind the waters. The largest lake, also considered the prettiest of the five, is the last one you come to. With fir trees abound, boulders surrounding, and a backdrop of the tip of the ridge, you’ll definitely be able to see why. Kids like to go rock hopping here, and the boulders are also an excellent sunbathing spot.
You can also camp at Five Lakes if you’re backpacking, though not within 600 feet of the lakes. By mid July, the trip will be snow free and the lakes will be at their peak. To get to the trailhead, take Interstate 80 to Highway 89 south to Tahoe City. After 9.5 miles, turn right on Alpine Meadows Road. Drive 2.1 miles to the trailhead on the right, across Deer Park Drive.