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Lakes Basin, Plumas National Forest

Plumas County might seem to have only three stoplights, but it has more than its fair share of great lakes to discover.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 10 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  An hour north of Truckee and a world away from the often busy Lake Tahoe traffic, the Lakes Basin is a tranquil escape full of... more »

Tips:  • An abundance of lakes means you'll find plenty of mosquitoes here in early summer, so remember to pack the bug repellent.
• Camping ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Gold Lake Lodge Trailhead

Assuming you're arriving at Lakes Basin from a southern location via the memorable scenery of state route 49, you'll want to head up the Gold Lake Highway in the direction of Graeagle. The left hand turn to the trailhead at Gold Lake Lodge is seven miles up the road.

If you're arriving from the north, pick up the Gold Lake Highway at the junction... More

2. Junction

Choose the left-hand trail as you continue away from the trailhead and out into the open air. You'll find little shelter from the sun from this point so protect yourself appropriately.

We're headed for the ridgeline of the mountains directly in front of you, but not before passing some picturesque scenery and an occasional tell-tale sign of... More

3. Former Stamp Mill Mine & Junction

Almost a century ago prospectors were here in search

4. PCT (South) Junction

Follow the ridgeline trail north from here and admire the views all around you.

Eventually the trail heads into pine forest, where you'll find a short respite from exposure to the sunlight overhead.

Directly to the south from here you'll see the weird mountainous prominences of the Sierra Buttes, which we scale in another Trailspotting Guide.

5. PCT (North) Junction

6. Mt. Elwell Junction

Rising above you is the 7,812 foot summit of Mt. Elwell. If you're have time for a challenge, you might like to consider a half-mile and 800ft slog up its slopes.

To continue our guide around the lakes, bear right at the Mt. Elwell junction and a further right almost immediately afterwards so you're heading in a southerly direction.

7. Helgramite Lakes Junction

Continue in a westerly direction by taking the left hand trail towards Silver Lake.

8. Silver Lake & Junction

Yet another picturesque lake, and a great location to admire the views while giving your feet a well deserved soaking in the pristine waters.

From here it's just a hop, skip and a jump back to the trailhead as you hike past the chain of lakes known as Cub Lake, Little Bear Lake and Big Bear lake.

9. Big Bear Lake & Junction

Stay right and head back under cover of forest, completing your circuit of our Lakes Basin loop and returning to the trailhead. Congratulations are due to those completing this 10 mile long picturesque hike.