The Granite Chief Wilderness Area is a 25,000-acre section of the Tahoe National Forest. Established in 1984, the park includes glaciated valleys, exposed granite formations, and 9,000-foot peaks. One of the most beautiful and thrilling hikes in the wilderness area is the 4.8-mile Five Lakes Trail. Few other trails in Tahoe exhibit the secluded charm of this location without an overnight camp in the middle.
The Five Lakes Trailhead is located right off the main Alpine Meadows road. Park across the street and prepare yourself for a strenuous climb of 1,200 feet in a little less than 2 miles. Along the way you will be presented with views of Alpine Meadows and the surrounding mountains. Take note of a phantom chairlift, which is rumored to be a future connection between Alpine and Squaw Valley. Once you have reached the Granite Chief Wilderness sign, your climb is finished.
Follow the trail a bit further until you reach the first lake. From here, there are many smaller trails meandering around and between the lakes. Take your time and explore each one to find your favorite. Once you are ready to return, you can use the top of the chairlift as a marker to find your way back to the main trail. Return to the trailhead using the same path.