Smith Lake Trail

Plumas National Forest, California

Elevation Gain1,199ft
Trailhead Elevation5,805ft
Elevation Min/Max5805/6353ft
Elevation Start/End5805/5805ft

Smith Lake Trail

Smith Lake Trail is a hiking trail in Plumas County, California. It is within Plumas National Forest. It is 2.1 miles long and begins at 5,805 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,199 feet. This trail connects with the following: Mount Elwell Trail.

Smith Lake Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Smith Lake is one of the more popular hikes in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The 1-mile hike (one-way) puts the lake within striking distance of all but the most out-of-shape bipeds, and the lake is one of only five in the area that allows overnight camping.

Despite the popularity, scenic Smith Lake is well worth the short time and little effort necessary for a visit. If the forecast is for high temperatures, consider an early start to beat the heat along the first half of the trip, which climbs across an exposed, south-facing slope. Dinner at Gray Eagle Lodge near the trailhead would be an excellent culinary climax to the hike."

"This hike takes you past the cascading waters of clear mountain streams as you travel through pine and fir forests. You’ll also visit five of the Sierra’s northernmost glacial lakes and enjoy fine alpine views of rocky ridges. The Sierra Nevada’s glacial history is evident in the rock striations found at Jamison and Rock Lakes."

"Most lakes in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area are rockbound, highly scenic, easy to reach, and, consequently, heavily visited. Smith Lake, in contrast, features no dramatic vistas and no rocky shore from which to dive or relax in the sun. What Smith Lake does offer is a peaceful destination about 30 minutes from the trailhead in a forested setting, far from the crowds that flock to other Lakes Basin waters."

Smith Lake Trail Reviews

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The driving directions were great for this trail, however, once at the trailhead parking, there were two sets of trails and one was not marked. If not for a forest ranger happening to be there, I probably would not have taken an unmarked trail. Don't take the trail with the sign indicating approx five different trails. Take the trail with no signage. There are toilets at the trailhead parking. Trail in to lake is mostly uphill, but a gradual climb. I was very fortunate to see lots of late season wildflowers. Great trail for dogs as you cross over a creek before getting to lake, where my dog swam, of course

Smith Lake Trail Photos

Trail Information

Plumas National Forest
Nearby City
Plumas National Forest
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Beckwourth Ranger District, Plumas National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Sierra City
Local Maps