Date: Monday, June 22, 2015
Course Type: Out & Back
Start/Finish: Alpine Meadows Road & Deer Park Drive (the second Deer Park intersection – it’s a loop and intersects Alpine twice)
Distance: 4 miles (option to run all the way to Mexico when you connect up with the PCT)
Elevation: 1,034 ft (all concentrated in the first 1.5 miles)
This Trail Teaser was a little preview for what is to come in the DPMR Trial Adventure group run on July 11th, led by Chris Cloyd & Lesley Dellamonica. Word on the trail has it that the Adventure will begin on this route and continue on for a 15-18 mile run. Stay tuned for more details on that. Back to the recap….
We were 5 runners for 5 lakes on this run and started a bit earlier than normal at 5:30 so that participants could finish in time to attend the Trails in Motion Film Festival (part of the Alpenglow Mountain Festival). In spite of the heat of the day, the trail was quite pleasant due to the massive granite slabs reaching up to block the path from the retreating sun. After meeting up we began our steep ascent up the 5 Lakes trail. And when I say steep, I mean steep. There is no gradual introduction to the climb – you pretty much hit it from the moment you take a step off of the asphalt after parking your car. It doesn’t let up for the first 1.5 miles and the trail is definitely technical with lots of rocks, loose dirt and sand, not to mention steep drop offs in sections.
There is no falling asleep or zoning out on this one, but you wouldn’t want to anyway. The views and scenery on this trail are stunning. From dramatic granite slabs to big, blue, expansive skies; we had a visual treat every step of the way. This vantage is fantastic but if you run or hike mid day, the trail is quite exposed and can lead to a scorching trek. Wear sunscreen and a hat!
Not surprisingly, we had perfect timing with regards to wildflowers. They were peaking out from every nook and cranny along the way, splashing our path with color.
After about 1.5-1.7 miles of a fantastic climb, the trail began to level off and we entered the woods as a gateway to the 5 small lakes for which the trail is named. While we didn’t stop to take a dip on this trip, I highly recommend it if you have the time and want a little cooling off mid run.
After a quick group shot, we began our way back down the trail to finish the run. It’s a good thing the way up provides plenty of time to look around, because the only thing you’re looking at on the way down is the trail! Not one trip or stumble and we were all back to the trail head in no time.
MAP: I selected this shot of the map so you can see the proximity of the route to both Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows. If you want a longer run, the 5 Lakes trail intersects the PCT roughly half a mile west of our turnaround point on this map