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Five Lakes Trail - Alpine Meadows

Distance: 4.2 miles out and back
Difficulty: Challenging due to 1,000-plus foot elevation gain
Fees and Permits: None
Map: National Geographic Lake Tahoe Basin Map

The Five Lakes Trail winds its way up the north side of the Alpine Meadows valley to the beautiful Five Lakes basin. The trailhead is located about 2.2 miles up from the base of Alpine Meadows road on the right, across from the intersection with Deer Park Drive, if you arrive at the base of Alpine Meadows ski area, you have gone too far. You can park on the side of the road by the trailhead; most nice summer days there will be a number of cars parked in the area.

The hike is usually done as a out and back to one of the five scenic lakes tucked into the basin in between Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. The trail extends further into Granite Chief Wilderness and connects with the Pacific Crest Trail about a mile past the lakes for those feeling adventurous. The trail mileage varies but is approximately 1.4 miles to the Granite Chief Wilderness boundary and another half mile or so to the shore of the largest lake. This makes for an out and back hike of 4-5 miles with an elevation gain of around 1500 vertical feet. There are a number of smaller unmarked trails that branch off the main trail and lead to small picnic spots along the shores of the lakes; visit and rest for a while and then return the way you came.

TMS Recommends Packing: a Lake Tahoe Hiking Trail Map and Sharkies energy fruit chews

(photos by Vlad & Marina Butsky via Flickr)

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