Bear Valley Lakes Trail In Idaho

Here is everything you need to know about the Bear Valley Lakes Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Idaho
  • Length: 6 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Bear Valley Lakes Trail holds a significant place in the history of the region, dating back several centuries. The trail was originally used by indigenous tribes as a vital trade route, connecting various settlements and providing access to valuable resources. These tribes, including the Shoshone and Paiute, relied on the trail for hunting, gathering, and trading goods such as furs, hides, and food.

During the 19th century, as European settlers began to explore and settle the area, the Bear Valley Lakes Trail gained further importance. It became a crucial route for fur trappers and explorers, who ventured into the wilderness in search of new territories and resources. The trail facilitated the movement of these early pioneers, enabling them to establish trading posts and settlements along its path.

In the late 1800s, the Bear Valley Lakes Trail witnessed increased activity during the California Gold Rush. Prospectors and miners flocked to the region, hoping to strike it rich. The trail served as a lifeline for these gold seekers, providing access to remote mining camps and connecting them to larger towns and cities. The trail also played a role in transporting supplies, equipment, and provisions to support the growing mining industry.

Over time, as the region developed and transportation methods evolved, the significance of the Bear Valley Lakes Trail diminished. However, its historical importance remains evident in the remnants of old trading posts, mining camps, and other artifacts that can still be found along its route. Today, the trail serves as a reminder of the rich history and the pioneering spirit of those who traversed its path in search of new opportunities and adventures.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Bear Valley Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Bear Valley Lakes Trail. It is located near the Bear Valley Visitor Center in Point Reyes National Seashore.

2. Five Brooks Trailhead: This trailhead is located at the Five Brooks Stables in Olema, California. It provides access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail as well as other trails in the area.

3. Glen Camp Trailhead: Located near the Glen Campground in Point Reyes National Seashore, this trailhead offers access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

4. Sky Trailhead: The Sky Trailhead is located near the Sky Campground in Point Reyes National Seashore. From here, hikers can access the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

5. Coast Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Coast Campground in Point Reyes National Seashore. It provides access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail as well as the Coast Trail.

6. Arch Rock Trailhead: Located near the Arch Rock Entrance Station in Point Reyes National Seashore, this trailhead offers access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

7. Limantour Beach Trailhead: This trailhead is located near Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. Hikers can access the Bear Valley Lakes Trail from here.

8. Palomarin Trailhead: Located near the Palomarin Trailhead in Bolinas, California, this access point provides access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail as well as other trails in the area.

9. Alamere Falls Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Palomarin Trailhead and offers access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers looking to visit Alamere Falls.

10. Wildcat Camp Trailhead: Located near the Wildcat Campground in Point Reyes National Seashore, this trailhead provides access to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Bear Valley Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
2. Bear Valley Adventure Company – Offers bike rentals and shuttle services for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
3. Sierra Nevada Adventure Company – Provides transportation services and outdoor gear rentals for visitors exploring Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
4. Calaveras Transit – Public transportation service with routes near Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
5. Uber – Ride-hailing service available in the area surrounding Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
6. Lyft – Another ride-hailing service option for transportation needs around Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
7. Bear Valley Taxi – Local taxi service offering transportation to and from Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
8. Bear Valley Airport Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically catering to travelers arriving at or departing from Bear Valley Airport near Bear Valley Lakes Trail.


The amenities available at the Bear Valley Lakes Trail may vary depending on the specific location and management of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that you may find:

1. Restrooms: Some trailheads or visitor centers may have restroom facilities available for public use.

2. Parking: There may be designated parking areas or parking lots near the trailhead for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and management, there may be designated camping sites or backcountry camping options available along the trail.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the trail may have designated picnic areas or scenic spots where visitors can stop and have a picnic.

5. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail may have markers, signs, or maps along the route to help visitors navigate and stay on the designated path.

6. Information Boards: Information boards or kiosks may be present at the trailhead or along the trail, providing information about the trail, its history, wildlife, and safety guidelines.

7. Benches or Seating Areas: There may be benches or seating areas along the trail where visitors can rest and enjoy the surroundings.

8. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, there may be trash receptacles available at the trailhead or at regular intervals along the trail.

9. Interpretive Displays: Some sections of the trail may have interpretive displays or educational signs that provide information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or cultural significance.

It is recommended to check with the local park or trail management authorities for specific amenities available at the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Bear Valley Lodge – A cozy lodge offering comfortable accommodations near the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.
2. Bear Valley Mountain Resort – A ski resort with lodging options and various dining choices.
3. Bear Valley Village – A small village with restaurants, cafes, and shops, located close to the trail.
4. Bear Valley Cross Country & Adventure Company – Offers lodging, food services, and outdoor adventure activities.
5. Bear Valley Fire Department – Emergency services available for any fire-related incidents in the area.
6. Alpine County Sheriff’s Office – Emergency services provided by the local sheriff’s office.
7. Bear Valley Medical Clinic – A medical clinic providing emergency medical services.
8. Bear Valley Veterinary Clinic – Veterinary services available for any pet emergencies.
9. Bear Valley Search and Rescue – Emergency services provided by a dedicated search and rescue team.
10. Bear Valley Community Church – A local church that may offer assistance during emergencies.

Bear Valley Lakes Trail Difficulty Notes

The Bear Valley Lakes Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail spans approximately 7 miles and features a mix of flat sections, gentle inclines, and some steeper sections. While the terrain can be uneven and rocky in certain areas, it is generally well-maintained and easy to follow. Hikers can expect to encounter some elevation gain, but the trail rewards with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and serene lakes along the way. With proper preparation and pacing, the Bear Valley Lakes Trail provides an enjoyable and manageable hiking experience.

Features And Attractions

The Bear Valley Lakes Trail is known for its stunning scenery and natural beauty. Here are some of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can find along the trail:

1. Bear Valley Lakes: The trail itself passes through a series of beautiful alpine lakes, including Upper Bear Lake, Middle Bear Lake, and Lower Bear Lake. These lakes offer breathtaking views and opportunities for swimming, fishing, and picnicking.

2. Bear Valley Meadows: As you hike along the trail, you’ll come across expansive meadows filled with wildflowers during the spring and summer months. These meadows provide a picturesque backdrop and are home to a variety of wildlife.

3. Granite Dome: One of the highlights of the trail is the impressive Granite Dome, a massive granite formation that dominates the landscape. The dome offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

4. Historic Bear Valley: The trail passes through the historic town of Bear Valley, which was once a bustling mining community during the Gold Rush era. You can still see remnants of the town’s past, including old buildings and mining equipment.

5. Emigrant Wilderness: The Bear Valley Lakes Trail is located within the Emigrant Wilderness, a protected wilderness area known for its pristine lakes, granite peaks, and alpine meadows. The wilderness offers endless opportunities for exploration and outdoor activities.

6. Kennedy Meadows: Towards the end of the trail, you’ll reach Kennedy Meadows, a popular camping and recreational area. The meadows are surrounded by towering pine trees and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

7. Relief Reservoir: Just off the main trail, you can take a short detour to visit Relief Reservoir. This picturesque reservoir is surrounded by granite cliffs and offers a peaceful setting for fishing, boating, or simply enjoying the scenery.

8. Emigrant Pass: As you continue hiking, you’ll reach Emigrant Pass, a high mountain pass that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. This is a great spot to take a break and soak in the beauty of the area.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can discover along the Bear Valley Lakes Trail. The trail offers a diverse range of landscapes and is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or fires are allowed along the trail.
– Fishing is permitted, but a valid fishing license is required.
– Swimming or bathing in the lakes is not allowed.
– Motorized vehicles, including bicycles, are not permitted on the trail.
– Hiking and trail use is allowed from sunrise to sunset.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Hunting is not allowed in the Bear Valley Lakes area.
– Stay on designated trails and do not disturb wildlife or vegetation.
– Respect other hikers and maintain a peaceful and quiet environment.
– Be aware of seasonal restrictions, such as closures during winter months or specific hunting seasons.

Seasonal Information

The Bear Valley Lakes Trail is a stunning hiking destination located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. This trail offers breathtaking views of alpine lakes, lush meadows, and towering granite peaks. While the trail is accessible year-round, the best times to visit are during the summer and early fall months.

During the summer, from June to August, the Bear Valley Lakes Trail is at its prime. The weather is generally warm and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking and camping. The trail is surrounded by vibrant wildflowers, and the lakes are crystal clear and perfect for swimming or fishing. The longer daylight hours also allow for more time to explore and enjoy the stunning scenery. However, it is important to note that summer is also the busiest time on the trail, so expect more crowds and make sure to book your campsites in advance.

As the fall season approaches, September and October offer a quieter and more serene experience on the Bear Valley Lakes Trail. The autumn foliage paints the landscape with vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold, creating a picturesque setting. The weather is cooler, but still pleasant for hiking, and the trail is less crowded compared to the summer months. Fall is also a great time for wildlife spotting, as animals prepare for the winter months.

It is important to be aware of seasonal closures and conditions when planning a visit to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail. During the winter months, heavy snowfall can make the trail inaccessible and dangerous. It is recommended to check with local authorities or the trail’s website for current conditions and closures before planning a trip. Additionally, some facilities and services, such as campgrounds and visitor centers, may have limited availability or be closed during the off-season, so it is advisable to plan accordingly and be prepared for self-sufficiency.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trailhead with sufficient space for wheelchair users to enter and exit their vehicles.
2. Accessible Trailhead: A level and paved area at the beginning of the trail, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Wide and Paved Trail: The trail is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and is paved, providing a smooth surface for easy navigation.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced benches along the trail, allowing wheelchair users to take breaks and rest comfortably.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with accessible features such as grab bars, wider doorways, and sufficient space for wheelchair maneuverability.
6. Signage with Braille: Trail signs and information boards featuring Braille translations for visually impaired individuals.
7. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options for wheelchair users to enjoy a meal or a break.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails installed at appropriate locations along the trail to provide additional support and safety for wheelchair users.
9. Accessible Viewing Areas: Designated areas along the trail that offer accessible viewpoints for wheelchair users to enjoy the surrounding scenery.
10. Assistance Animals Allowed: The trail permits the presence of service animals to assist individuals with disabilities in navigating the trail.

Safety Information

When visiting the Bear Valley Lakes Trail, it is crucial to be aware of the following safety information:

1. Weather Conditions: Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes. The trail is located in a mountainous area, so conditions can vary rapidly. Dress in layers, carry rain gear, and be prepared for cold temperatures, even in summer.

2. Trail Conditions: Be aware of the trail conditions, including any recent closures or warnings. Check with local authorities or park rangers for up-to-date information. Some sections of the trail may be steep, rocky, or slippery, so wear appropriate footwear and use caution.

3. Wildlife Awareness: The Bear Valley Lakes Trail is home to various wildlife species, including bears. Familiarize yourself with proper wildlife safety protocols, such as making noise to alert animals of your presence, storing food securely, and keeping a safe distance. Do not approach or feed any wildlife.

4. Navigation and Maps: Carry a detailed map of the trail and a compass or GPS device. Familiarize yourself with the route before starting and stay on marked trails. Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost.

5. Water Safety: If you plan to swim or engage in water activities, be aware of the water conditions and your swimming abilities. The lakes may have cold temperatures and strong currents. Always swim with a buddy and supervise children closely.

6. Hydration and Food: Carry enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. It is recommended to bring at least one liter of water per hour of hiking. Pack high-energy snacks or meals to maintain your energy levels.

7. Leave No Trace: Respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, including food waste. Minimize your impact on the trail and surrounding nature by staying on designated paths and avoiding damaging vegetation.

8. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid techniques. In case of an emergency, have a plan and know the location of the nearest emergency services. Carry a fully charged cell phone, but be aware that there may be limited or no reception in some areas.

Remember, safety is paramount when exploring the outdoors. Always use common sense, be prepared, and respect the natural environment to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to the Bear Valley Lakes Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Bear Valley Lakes Trail is currently considered to be in a relatively stable conservation status. The trail is located within a protected area, ensuring that it is safeguarded from major threats such as habitat destruction or development. This protected status allows for the preservation of the natural environment and the species that inhabit it.

The trail passes through diverse ecosystems, including forests, meadows, and lakes, which are home to a variety of plant and animal species. The conservation efforts in place aim to maintain the integrity of these ecosystems and protect the biodiversity within them. This includes monitoring and managing invasive species, controlling human impact, and promoting sustainable recreational activities.

Efforts are also being made to ensure the conservation of sensitive habitats along the trail, such as wetlands and riparian areas. These habitats play a crucial role in supporting a wide range of species, including migratory birds and amphibians. By protecting these habitats, the conservation status of the Bear Valley Lakes Trail is enhanced, allowing for the continued existence of these important ecological communities.

Overall, the conservation status of the Bear Valley Lakes Trail is considered to be positive, thanks to the protective measures in place. However, ongoing monitoring and management are necessary to address any potential threats and ensure the long-term sustainability of the trail and its surrounding ecosystems.

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