Today, we hiked the 5-Lakes trail with friends Ray & Sandra Akrawi.
The Akrawis worked with us for a number of years, looking at homes in Truckee, Tahoe City, and Tahoe’s Westshore, before choosing to buy in Northstar. They waited and watched the market carefully until their dream home was available. When it was, they acted and are thrilled with their home.
Back to the 5-Lakes trail…
For those who don’t know it, this is one of those “old stand-by hikes” that visitors and locals alike enjoy throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Some people even hike it in the winter to take advantage of the back country skiing opportunities along the trail.
The trailhead, located on Alpine Meadows Road (and directly across from Deer Park Road), crosses through private property so stay on the trail, which immediately begins it’s ascent of 1,000 feet in 2.5 miles (making a 5 mile out and back route). The trail switchbacks through brushy, then forested lands, opening finally to a granitic canyon, and finishing among towering, moss covered firs and pine trees.
Once the steepest ascent is completed you’ll come to a saddle at the 1.5 mile mark, where the trail changes to a narrow traverse on the side of the canyon. This is a popular place to pause and catch your breath enjoying the views. This 1 mile section of the trail eases up a bit to bring you to the Granite Chief Wilderness. Beyond this point the trails start separating into minor trails but you can’t really get lost. The lakes are to your left, and the largest, most popular lake is last in the series.
If you want to go farther, the trail ultimately connects to the Pacific Crest Trail and all the other beautiful spots in this pristine wilderness that are barely traveled. A fraction of the 200+ people/day who go to Five Lakes on a summer weekend ever venture beyond, and a backpacking trip in the Granite Chief Wilderness can be filled with solitude.
•Distance: 2.5 miles each way (5 miles total)
•Elevation gain: about 1,000 feet (6560’-7600’)
•Maps: USGS Tahoe City and Granite Chief; USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Map
•Trailhead information: USDA Forest Service
•Permits and other information: USDA Forest Service
•Parking: plentiful along Alpine Meadows Rd.