Hike to Twin and Island Lakes

Twin and Island Lakes Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Christian Murillo

In the heart of the Desolation Wilderness lies one of the most spectacular alpine lake hikes around. Come enjoy the 7-mile hike and take a dip in the refreshing waters of Twin Lake.

The Twin Lakes trail starts winding through a pine forest, with a couple bridge crossings over crystal clear trout-filled streams.  The marsh-like water is very slow moving, and even though it is indeed beautiful, it is also a prime location for pesky mosquitoes in the summertime.  Be sure to load up on bug spray for this section. 

The trail continues on a gentle climb as you leave a large section of pine forest and begin covering more exposed granite terrain.  On the exposed granite, navigating can be a bit tricky because there are not many official trail markers.  However, there are rocks lined on the granite, pointing the way over the more ambiguous sections.  The large granite boulders and thinning tree cover provides some incredible vantage points of the surrounding landscape. 

After the patches of forested areas become fewer and farther in between, the trail begins to follow a shallow and fast moving stream with some very scenic small waterfalls.  There are some pools here that make for great spots to dip your feet in the chilly water. 

Once you have followed the stream uphill for about 1.5 miles, you will begin to see the towering peak of Mt. Price in the horizon and at this point you are almost at Twin Lakes.  Twin Lakes lies at the entrance of the valley, and is incredibly scenic.  There are also some nice camping spots around the lake and good trees for hammocks, but if you opt to overnight it, make sure you get an overnight permit in advance. 

After Twin Lakes, there is not much of a real trail, but further exploration into the valley will bring you over a granite ridge and on top of Island Lake.  This is also the section that can be used as an approach to the summit the Western face of Mt. Price, which is described in further detail here

Now that you have soaked in the abundant beauty in this remote valley, taking a dip in the cool waters would pretty much be the icing on the cake.  Although the temperature of the snowmelt water might take your breath away at first, the rejuvenating effects of the frigid water on weary legs cannot be understated.  Top it off with a soak in the warm California summer sun, and you have yourself a top-notch alpine lake experience. 

Return on the same trail used for the approach, and in about an hour and a half, you will be back at the trailhead.  As long as you are mindful of your navigation on the way out to the lakes, navigating on the way back should not be much of a challenge. 

Distance

7 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1600 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Swimming Hole

Nearby Lodging

From $63/night

Outsite Heavenly

South Lake Tahoe, California

Placerville KOA

Shingle Springs, California

Coleville / Walker KOA

Coleville, California

Reno KOA at Boomtown

Reno, Nevada

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

A great hike

One of my favorite hikes in the desolation wilderness. Beautiful scenery, crystal clear, ice cold snowmelt lake waters. A must hike if you need to get away from it all!

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