From the granite peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the remote mountain scenery of the Marble Mountains in the Trinity Alps, there’s nothing quite like a lakeside campsite in the Golden State. California campers are spoiled when it comes to beautiful campsites, and this list of alpine lakes where you can lay your head for the night proves it.
An overall lackluster winter in California still produced a decent snowpack in the High Sierra thanks to a miracle March, so you might want to stick to lower elevations through early summer. Everything lower than 7,000 feet should be good to go by June, however.
Whether you prefer to pull up to your lakeside camping spot in your car, go for a quick overnight in the backcountry, or spend days at a time in the wilderness, these lakes sites are just the ticket for a refreshing experience outdoors.
- Rock Lake + Jamison Lake, Eastern Sierra: 6 miles round trip, great for beginning backpackers
- Sky High Lakes, Trinity Wilderness: 14 miles round trip through the Marble Mountains
- Lake Sabrina Loop Hike, Eastern Sierra: A relatively easy hike with uneven ground through the John Muir Wilderness
- First and Second Lake, Eastern Sierra: A 9-mile trail that offers dramatic views of the High Sierra and the southernmost glaciers in the U.S.
- South Lake, Eastern Sierra: 11 miles round trip, great hike near Bishop that is great for backpacking newbies.
- Mcleod Lake Trail, Eastern Sierra: A short hike under 2 miles to a great catch and release only lake.
- Bear Lakes Loop, Lakes Basin Region: 5 miles round trip along stunning alpine lakes, located just a short distance from the Lakes Basin Campground.
- Rae Lakes Loop, Southern Sierra: 42 miles, advanced multi-day trip that through lake basins and mountain vistas.
- John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park and Central Sierra: For unparalleled views of High Sierra Granite, take this 211-mile through hike.
- Big Five Lakes, Southern Sierra: A 27-mile trail through Sequoia National Park.