Bear Lakes Loop

Downieville

Dip your toes into Lakes Basin hiking!

Hiking Difficult

Distance
6.6 km
Ascent
192 m
Descent
192 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
2.1 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Bear Lakes Loop Map

Description

The Lakes Basin region offers an unexpected haven filled with beautiful recreation and views, deep in the Sierras. This basin is filled with crystal-clear alpine lakes flanked by towering walls of granite. The exposed rock walls rise up to form towering mountains, with the spine of the Sierras soaring high above the entire milieu.

This 4-mile loop around the Bear Lakes is one of the best routes for dipping your toes into Lakes Basin. On this hike, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the mountains towering high above and the crystal clear lakes all around you. In fact, you’ll pass at least six lakes on this hike, which will constantly beckon you to stop, sit on their shores, and drink in the solitude and serenity of the Lost Sierras.

While the trail doesn’t gain a dramatic amount of elevation, you’ll spend the entire time climbing and descending small hills and ridges, gaining and losing around 630 feet of elevation.

Most of the difficulty on this hike comes from the trail tread itself. While the trail starts off smooth and carefree, it quickly becomes rocky and filled with boulders. While the path before you is always clear, the trail tread is filled with rock gardens, rock steps, boulders, roots, and all manner of roughness. While you won’t find any serious scrambling or mountaineering, you must be prepared to travel on a little-maintained backcountry trail for several miles.

Due to how many trails connect together in the Lakes Basin, you could easily choose to extend this hike by connecting to another trail. Or, click into our Lakes Basin guidebook and choose a different route entirely!

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

July, August, September

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Water features

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area