Lake Margaret Trail

#3 of 135 trails in Eldorado National Forest

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Lake Margaret Trail is a 5 mile trail (RT) located near Kirkwood, California. The trail is primarily used for hiking. It also is a nice place for an easy overnight backpack trip. The Lake is a great place for an afternoon swim and picnic. Fishing is no good, beavers are in the area.

Trail is marked very marked. There is one area across the granite which you have to follow the ducked trail markers. You hop across Caples Creek within a 1/2 mile. When you get to, what looks to be a junction, head to your right. When you get near the lake, find the easiest way across the washout then head left looking for the trail that you will scramble up the rock, that will be on your right, to get you into the lake basin.

If you are coming from the west side of the Sierra Nevada's find your way to Jackson, California and head east on Hwy 88. If you are coming from the east find Minden, Nevada and head west on Hwy 88.
West - East, Trailhead & parking lot is located 3/4 mile east of Kirkwood Ski Resort on the north side of Hwy 88, 1/4 mile past the Kirkwood gas station/cafe. It will be on the left. If you reach the Caples Lake Dam parking lot on your right, you have gone 1/4 mile too far.
East - West, Hwy 88, go over Carson Pass, look for the parking lot sign 1/4 mile past the Caples Lake Dam parking lot on your right.

Room enough for 8 cars

Icon_


N/A:

13 Completed 17 Reviews

A nice hike for taking the dogs along!

Icon_


N/A:

13 Completed 17 Reviews

Another enjoyable hike! Happened upon it when expecting to do a different hike, and really loved it. We hope to go back for a back packing trip because the lake at the end has some perfect camping areas.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

16 Completed 5 Reviews

Beautiful - busy, but sooooo beautiful. I normally don' t like to see little rock piles indicating that people have been there, but in this case, it was a great trail marker, so thanks folks! Clear hiking, beautiful weather, fantastic sights! Lots of wildflowers!

Icon_


N/A:

7 Completed 4 Reviews

Trail clear all the way to the lake Memorial Day weekend. Lots of snow melt causing some flooding and heavy mud in the first meadow but pretty easy to get around. Also created several very temporary small waterfalls and the river was running very strong and fast. Beautiful hike as always.

Icon_


N/A:

4 Completed 4 Reviews

Went May 17 2014 good little hike with the fam only could go back bout 1.5 mile do to the snow. I would wait till mid June to try again

Icon_


N/A:

7 Completed 4 Reviews

I live in the nearby area and this is my favorite hike. Made my way up there on May 3 and only got a little over 1/4 mile down the trail before I had to start finding ways around the snow. Stopped not much further in and enjoyed the awesome view. Snow melt was in full swing and there were several temporary creeks flowing through the first lower meadow. It was really beautiful but I didn't see a way to make it to the lake yet. We'll see how it's looking this weekend.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

11 Completed 1 Reviews

Loved this hike. The trail markers are almost nonexistent, so the ducking was helpful. Great trail for dogs, super windy on the lake, but a great picnic spot. Just missed the Aspens fully lit by a few days.

Icon_


N/A:

39 Completed 37 Reviews

Being a NW hiker, this was my first hike in granite and meadows of the Sierras--it was stunning in the summer. This is just the perfect short hike: nIce ups and downs, a beautiful meadow and stream, and a fantastic lake. A lot of different looks/feels of the country to for such a short trail.

Note: I watched others in my party pull multiple fish out of this lake, so I'll politely disagree with the "fishing is no good" statement.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

2 Completed 1 Reviews

Great hike with a lovely lake at the end. But this trail is heavily used with lots of trail traffic. We fished the lake without a single bite. But did catch fish in the river on tne way back. We hiked this with our two miniature dachshunds. They made the hike with only a few places that they needed help to get up and over. We would hike this again.

Picture?width=50&height=50


N/A:

9 Completed 3 Reviews

Spoiler alert! The beginning, middle, and end of this hike are every little bit of amazing.

My husband and I, accompanied by our 7 year old Parson Russell Terrier and our 8 month old Catahoula X, hiked the Lake Margaret trail yesterday, July 21. I am still beaming from this beautiful hike and it was the first thing I wanted to talk about with my co-workers when I arrived at work this morning.

Coming from the Placerville area, this was an easy trek. It took just under 2 hours to arrive at the trailhead. From this direction (West-East) the easy-to-find trailhead is just after the Kirkwood gas station which will be on your left. There was plenty of parking available when we arrived in the morning, but was full when we left (around 1pm).

According to my pedometer app, this hike was just a smidgen under 5 miles round trip. It took the four of us about 65-70 minutes each way.

This trail is considered “moderate”. I would classify myself on the lower end of above-average fitness and I would rate 90% of this hike as “easy” and the rest “moderate.” The trail consists of varying terrain; mostly soft footing, some large rocks to traverse through (only in small stints), a mostly empty river bed and even a sturdy log to pass over part of a creek.

The scenery gets 5 stars from me. I was so pleasantly surprised, constantly, during this hike. Wildflowers were everywhere! Being July, I assumed that wildflower season was over. Not here, folks! The moist ground allows for a lush landscape. There was one portion where I felt like I was in the tropics with thick, tall foliage and even humidity! The meadow creek was an absolute pleasure to see. The last time I saw a creek like that was in Montana. Perhaps I need to explore this area more! Fish jumped in this creek as well as at the lake. There was a family of hikers with fly fishing poles and I can only assume this may be a good area to drop a line.

There are some pools that reflected the hills and trees around them. Incredible places to stop and meditate as long as you have your bug spray handy.

There is a slight scramble up some rocks that make the anticipation to see Lake Margaret even more rewarding. Exhausted and on the verge of giving up, I finally breach the top of the treacherous mountain only to look down upon the promised land. But it wasn’t a mountain, nor was I exhausted from a journey that I was chosen to take by a grey-haired wizard. But hey, it was fun to imagine…

Lake Margaret is stunning. It is on the smaller side, but one can gaze down upon it all day. There are many spots to eat lunch or take a nap. I waded into the lake and the water was warm! Yes, you can swim in this lake without freezing your tush off. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a bathing suit, so wading was my only option that day.

This hike is great for those of us who love bringing our best buddies with us. My one complaint, however, is the lack of leashes that were attached to all the dogs on the trail. Please, if you are bringing your dog, be courteous to other dog owners who have pooches who highly disagree with having their faces licked and butts smelled by strangers (wouldn’t you be a bit snappy if someone did this to you?)

I give this hike 5 stars. As soon as we arrived at the truck, I was asking my husband when we can go back and that we must bring our friends so they can enjoy this treasure as well.

Support