Bear Lakes

Trinity Alps

Trinity Alps + Marble Mountain Wilderness, California

Start Exploring
Bear Lakes


  • The beginning of the trail. - Bear Lakes
  • Incense cedar and fern along the trail.- Bear Lakes
  • The trail through a carpet of ferns.- Bear Lakes
  • Bear Creek flows over granite slabs. - Bear Lakes
  • The view from a good campspot near Little Bear Lake.- Bear Lakes
  • Another blanket of ferns. - Bear Lakes
  • View northeast from the cross-country route.- Bear Lakes
  • Little Bear Lake reflections.- Bear Lakes
  • Little Bear Lake in the morning. - Bear Lakes
  • Wee Bear Lake.- Bear Lakes
  • The view northwest from the cross-country section.- Bear Lakes
Overview + Weather
Great views. Wildflowers. Meadows.
Limited camping spots.
Trinity Alps + Marble Mountain Wilderness, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,850.00 ft (868.68 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
9.20 mi (14.81 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,020.00 ft (920.50 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


There are several Big Bear Lakes in California, and even more spread across the Western U.S. When there's a Big Bear Lake, there's usually a Little Bear Lake nearby, and the Bear Lakes Basin in the Trinity Alps Wilderness is no exception. Wee Bear Lake lives up to its appellation and adds unique scenery and opportunities to the Trinity Alps version of the Three Bears.

The Bear Lakes Basin lies within an island of granite set about 20 miles northeast from the core of the Trinity Alps. Bear Creek drains the basin and meets the Trinity River right next to the trailhead. Start your trek toward the Bear Lakes and you will come across a bridge after a little more than a mile. Unless you want to bushwack down to Bear Creek, this is the last reliable water source for several miles. The next mile after the bridge rides a narrow ridge and and has more sun than the first leg of the hike.

The second half of the trail will put a spring in your step as the granite walls surrounding you begin to show themselves above and around stands of incense cedar and fir. The trail will often level out through carpets of fern to give your legs a brief rest. One of the last level stretches will feature two noticeably large ponderosa pine trees. Pass the two trees and the trail steepens with the assistance of well placed rock steps. Fern and other soft brush close in on the trail at this point, so pants may be helpful.

The trail empties out onto the outlet of Big Bear Lake. The creek here flows over slabs of granite and makes for a wonderful playground with great views of Mount Shasta. Keep going another quarter of a mile to reach Big Bear Lake. Sticking on the trail, this adventure is about 9.5 miles long round trip. If you seek more adventure and enjoy cross-country route finding, the traverse to Wee Bear Lake and Little Bear Lake will add about a mile each way. The cairns marking the way begin on the south side of Bear Creek near where the established trail first encounters the granite playground. As you wrap around the mountainside you will eventually see a V in the granite showing the outlet of Wee Bear Lake.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(4 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(30 within a 30 mile radius)

Related Content

Related Content

Adventure Community

Adventure Community

Who Wants To Do It
80 Members
Who's Done It
6 Members
Submission by
39 Adventures Explored
22 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info