Five Lakes Creek Trail 15E31

Granite Chief Wilderness, California

Elevation Gain1,024ft
Trailhead Elevation6,928ft
Elevation Min/Max6090/6928ft
Elevation Start/End6928/6928ft

Five Lakes Creek Trail 15E31

Five Lakes Creek Trail (15E31) is a hiking trail in Placer County, California. It is within Granite Chief Wilderness. It is 4.3 miles long and begins at 6,928 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,024 feet. The trail ends near the Whisky Creek Camp site. This trail connects with the following: Historic Western States Trail (16E10), Big Spring Trail, Shanks Cove Trail (15E11.1), Whiskey Creek Trail (16E02), Hell Hole Trail and Bear Pen Trail.

Five Lakes Creek Trail (15E31) Professional Reviews and Guides

"Although the climb to Five Lakes basin is fairly stiff, the shores of the five lakes on the forested flat require only an hour’s worth of hiking to reach, leaving plenty of time to fish, swim, or simply relax.

The only drawback is the area’s popularity, no doubt a direct result of the relatively short access. The overuse has resulted in a ban on camping, campfires, and the use of stoves within 600 feet of the lakes-backpackers can find decent campsites near a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail or better sites 1.5 miles away at Whisky Creek Camp."

"The Five Lakes Trail climbs along a ridge overlooking a rocky canyon into the Granite Chief Wilderness with spectacular granite formations and sheer cliffs. The hike up to the lake is the best part of the trip. The dramatic cliffs and eroded, rounded shapes of the surrounding rock is stunning. All five tree-lined lakes are small yet beautiful. They make an excellent picnic and play area."

"In the summertime, the bare rock underpinnings of ski slopes are revealed—and become hikeable. The climb to Five Lakes offers access (not lift-served) to the slopes near Alpine Meadows, and then mellows in the wilderness surrounding secluded Five Lakes."

"The surprise of summertime at a ski area reveals beauty viewed through a different lens. And it requires effort: Slopes traversed easily when covered with snow require work when their rocky bases are revealed—and you have to hike up them as well as come down. The climb to Five Lakes offers access (not lift-served) to the slopes near Alpine Meadows, then mellows in the shady forest surrounding the first of the Five Lakes.

Three distinct settings, and thus three distinct moods, lie
along the trail to Five Lakes. The most arduous part of the
trek is at the outset, where switchbacks climb through a sun-fed thicket of manzanita, mule ear, and snowberry. The second section features great views of the Alpine Meadows Ski Area, metal ski lift towers punched into smooth, colorful granite slabs, as well as an exposed traverse of a shallow granite-walled canyon."

Five Lakes Creek Trail (15E31) Reviews

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The trail is exactly as described. An unshaded uphill traversed by switchbacks leading to a cross mountain uphill over the sandstone and ending in the trees at the lake. I did this hike with my dog and it was a wonderful afternoon. He especially enjoyed the lake and I will be sure to bring a suit next time! I did the trail on a mid-week afternoon and while I passed others going the opposite directions I had the trail to myself for the most part. I hear weekends are a bit crowded.
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Trail Information

Granite Chief Wilderness
Nearby City
Granite Chief Wilderness
Tahoe National Forest at 530-587-3558,
Local Contacts
USGS Tahoe City, Granite Chief; North Lake Tahoe Basin Recreation Map
Local Maps