Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (2022)

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (1)

07 Jun Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest

Posted at 23:04hin Tahoe National ForestbyBobby Burgess0 Comments

With all the crazy stuff going on in the world I realized my mental health was in need of a backwoods tune up. Five Lakes Basin was the perfect tune up location and I’m glad I went in July 2021!

I scouted out Downey Lake on my way to Five Lakes Basin. The lake was just to the right and down the hill from the trailhead.. Since I haven’t hiked much due to COVID and such I thought I might just hike to Glacier Lake, set up camp and day hike the 1 mile hike to Five Lakes Basin. Mid hike, I changed my mind.

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (2)

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. I peeled off to the right and went down to Downey Lake. It was very nice with a few exposed camping sites. Instead of climbing up the hill to get back on the trail, I decided to follow the contour of Downey Lake and meet the trail further down. Boonie stomping to the trail from Downey Lake worked well but it was a lot more work on these old legs of mine. I walked on past a beautiful meadow and half way through my hike I started hearing an unusual sound. The closer I got to the sound the more I recognized it…cow bells. Crazy as it sounds there were several different herds of cattle roaming Tahoe National Forest. It was a sound I would hear for the remainder of my trip.

Five Lakes Basin Detour

Halfway through my hike I decided I wanted to go straight to Five Lakes Basin so the closer I got to Glacier Lake the more I looked for the trail junction going to Five Lakes. Unfortunately I never saw the junction. I didn’t realize it until I arrived at Glacier Lake. There was a family of four camping at the lake. I was a bit frustrated that I somehow missed the trail junction. On my return trip I learned the trail junction is no more. Unless you want to boonie stomp you simply follow the trail to and around Glacier Lake to Five Lakes Basin. I’m glad I at least saw Glacier lake.

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (3)
Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (4)

Now for the down hill hike to five lakes. The trail down was good at first until I reached the rocky part of the trail. Everywhere I looked I saw cairns. Cairns are rocks stacked on top of each other and many people make them to show the trails path when the path is on rocks. The cairns littered the hillside and I couldn’t tell which ones were trail markers so I just followed my GPS and kept going down hill. I eventually reached the first of the five lakes.

The very first sight I came to is a beautiful grassy area set back from the lake but…its the first thing people will see as they hike in. I kept going because I didn’t want to be around a lot of foot traffic. I regret not listening to my body and taking a break and getting more fluids in me. The next lake I came to I didn’t see any obvious camp sites so I decided to head back to the first one I found. I decided to turn back, I was hungry and feeling week for lack of fluids. I dumped my pack, filled my water bottle and began to rest and recuperate. It took me about an hour to start feeling decent. I sucked 2 liters of water on that break.

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (5)

I finally felt strong enough to get moving and went back to the first site. The first picture in the blog is my first campsite. I dumped my stuff and set up camp, solar shower, tent and then I relaxed in my hammock.

Somehow nodded off for a bit and slowly opened my eyes when I started hearing people hiking in. There was a group of about six boy scouts looking for a place to camp. I decided it was time to get up and make some dinner. I enjoyed the view while I sucked down my favorite Mountain House meal…Chicken Teriyaki. After dinner my solar shower water was warm enough to take a nice shower and get some of that trail dust off me. I had enough water left over to wash my clothes too. The next thing to do was crawl in bed and get a very restful nights sleep. As the sun set the cow bells slowly faded as I imagined the cows laying down for their night sleep as well.

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (6)

The Next Day

The new day was perfect. I boiled some hot water had some oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Who could ask for anything more. After breakfast I started doing a little exploring and found a perfect camp site just 50 yards from my current camp site. I decided to pull up stakes and move over to the new sight. This campsite was more secluded with better trees to hang my hammock. My new tent was set up in a clearing that had full sun between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. Once set up, I took off to explore the other four lakes at Five Lakes Basin.

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (7)
Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (8)
Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (9)

I wondered around for several hours looking for future camp sites and just soaking in God’s creation. There are a few more places that I want to go back to and see if I can find more established camp sites.

Save The Frogs!

After a day of exploring it was time to soak in the lake. The water was cool and comfortable and the lake bottom was muddy. In all five lakes the Forest Rangers have very large gill nets set up. The Forest Service is on a 2 year program to eliminate stocked fish and return the lakes to it’s “natural” state, in order to help the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog.

Because of the introduction of the trout and the occurrence of fungal disease have caused the frog species to decline dramatically. The Yellow Legged Frog is listed as a threatened and federally endangered. Many areas in the Grouse Ridge area have stocked fish for our angling fix, including Carr, Culbertson, Feeley, Long, Milk, Upper and Lower Lindsey, Big and Little island and Lower and Upper Rock Lakes. Watch this interesting 7 minute video about the unintended consequences of introducing fish into mountain lakes. https://youtu.be/JblxFD6kxKM

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (10)

After exploring and swimming it was time for another nap in my hammock. The distant sound of cow bells encouraged my slumber. Why is it so easy to take a nap when your are backpacking?

Five Lakes Basin Photo Gallery

  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (11)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (12)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (13)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (14)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (15)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (16)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (17)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (18)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (19)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (20)
  • Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (21)

An Alternate to Five Lakes Basin

I’ve done a lot of backpacking trips to Island Lake and Lake Penner on Crooked Lakes Trail so I wanted to try a new location and Five Lakes Basin was the perfect choice. Feel free to check out my blog on Lake Penner. https://www.barebackpacking.com/tahoe-national-forest/penner-lake/

What’s New?

I plan to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2023. I bought a new tent to help reduce my base weight and this was my first test of the Z-Pack Triplex tent. It worked very well and was very light. Setting up the tent was pretty straight forward. I used my trekking poles to set her up. Its hard to believe this 3 person tent is only 20 ounces. I look forward to more gear tests.

Five Lake Basin Trip Statistics

The round trip hike was 12.5 miles. I hiked 6.12 miles going in…with a few side trips. It took me about 3 hours to get to camp.

A Side Note

As I stated above, I wanted to explore Five Lakes Basin more. I went up later in the summer of 2021 for another nice 4-day trip and can you believe it the forest was closed…not for COVID but because of high fire danger. From now on, I will check the forest service website before I pack up and go. I was really disappointed.

Tag, You’re it!

I’d love to hear about your backpacking adventures…feel free to send me an email with your story.

Happy Trails

Author Profile

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (22)

Bobby BurgessLoving it!
Retired Air Force loving being Freee in the great outdoors!
Latest Adventures
  • Tahoe National Forest2022.06.07Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest
  • National Park2019.06.04Tahoe Rim Trail Angels
  • Tahoe National Forest2018.08.06Tahoe Rim Trail…Take 2
  • Death Valley National Park2018.04.20Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs
Tags:

backpacking cows five lakes Glacier Lake mountain lake tahoe national forest triplex Zpack

Print page

0 Likes

Five Lakes Basin In Tahoe National Forest - Bare Backpacking (27)

Bobby Burgess

bobby@barebackpacking.com

Retired Air Force loving being Freee in the great outdoors!

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated: 08/21/2022

Views: 6735

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.