Guidebook

Sierra Grandeur: Beautiful Hikes in the Lakes Basin

Hike to crystal-clear alpine lakes and scale towering granite monoliths on the most beautiful hikes in California's Lakes Basin.

Greg Heil

Description

California's Lakes Basin region offers an unexpected haven filled with incredible recreation opportunities and gorgeous views, hidden deep in the Sierras. The 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.

The Basin offers lakes both big and small, and other natural wonders like waterfalls and towering mountain peaks. Connecting all of these gorgeous attractions together is an interconnected network of multi-use trails that allow you to form hikes and trail runs ranging from short to long and easy to hard. The trails are also shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders, but overall, foot travel reigns supreme in this region.

Foot travel reigns due to the rocky, rugged nature of the trails. While you won’t find any serious scrambling or mountaineering, the trails are filled with roots, boulders, rock steps, and some loose, shifting rock, which can prove challenging at times. But your reward for braving these challenges is reaching idyllic views seemingly isolated from the rest of civilization!

When you reach these untrammeled lakeshores or mountain summits, take a moment to soak in and appreciate the world around you. You might not be in a national park, but you’re currently sitting in one of the country’s most beautiful and peaceful locations. Maybe it's that peaceful exactly because it isn't a park... all the more special for those in the know!

Mt. Elwell
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mt. Elwell

4 - 5 hrs
12.8 km
663 m
663 m
Gain stunning views above the Lakes Basin area from the summit of Mt. Elwell.
Difficult
Private
Bear Lakes Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Bear Lakes Loop

1 - 2 hrs
6.6 km
192 m
192 m
Dip your toes into Lakes Basin hiking!
Difficult
Private
Frazier Falls
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Frazier Falls

0 - 1 hrs
1.7 km
15 m
15 m
One of the most popular sights in the Lakes Basin.
Easy
Private
Long Lake Lollipop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Long Lake Lollipop

10.8 km
557 m
558 m
Challenging hike in the Lakes Basin.
Severe
Private
Smith Lake

Smith Lake

3.3 km
109 m
109 m
One of the quickest lake hikes in the Lakes Basin.
Moderate
Private