Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,635.00 ft (498.35 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
9.30 mi (14.97 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The path to Lola Montez lakes leads to a pair of alpine lakes tucked away in the Sierra Nevada near Donner Pass. Though while it may be tempting to visit both lakes, there are a couple reasons why Lower Lola Montez Lake may be the best destination for those hiking in.

The out-and-back to Lower Lola Montez Lake requires a total hiking distance of 6.5 miles covering about 700' in elevation gain. Lower Lola Montez is a forested lake surrounded by pine trees with an early afternoon shadow cast by the granite walls separating the lower and upper lakes. This is Natioanl Forest land, and backpackers will be able to find plenty of small clearings nestled amidst the trees for overnight camping.

And while the hike in to reach the lower lake is a gradual uphill climb, reaching the upper lake will require some hard trail-less climbing around the granite wall. A backcountry navigation device is strongly suggested, as once one enters the pathless forest, directions to the lake itself aren't immediately clear. The upper lake tends to be more crowded, as high-clearance forest roads access the lake from the other direction, so it may be a less quiet spot to spend a day than at the lower lake. The total out-and-back distance from the trailhead to the upper lake is about 9.3 miles, tacking on an extra 400' or so of rough elevation gain scrambling over granite boulders to reach the upper smaller lake.

The trail itself switches between forested single track and dirt road. Begininng at the trailhead is singletrack, which is really just a small sign beside the road that may be easy to miss if there aren't cars parked on the shoulder already. A short distance in, the trail meets and joins with a private dirt road shared by owners of a dispersed development of seasonal homes. Shortly on, a sign marks where the single track splits from the road and enters some steep climbing, the only moderate stretch of the route, before joining another private road and continuing toward the lake. Lodgepole pines and ferns line the route, and with the exception of the steep climb between roads, the rolling dirt path makes clear why this trail is also popular with mountain bikers.

A final unmarked "Y" intersection goes left to the lower lake, or right to begin the backcountry route-finding toward the upper lake.

The Lola Montez trail is not as popular as routes in Tahoe or Truckee areas nearby, and hikers will likely find themselves with a serene backcountry lake that makes for a relaxing swim with few, if any, other people around.

There are no amenities of any kind at the trailhead or along the route.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Likely to find solitude at lower lake.

Cons

Highway noise for the first portion. Upper lake is hard to access hiking in from lower lake.

Trailhead Elevation

6,690.00 ft (2,039.11 m)

Highest point

7,600.00 ft (2,316.48 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort
Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.