Rock Lake Trail In Wisconsin

Here is everything you need to know about the Rock Lake Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Wisconsin
  • Length: 13.6 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: National Park Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Rock Lake Trail, located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, holds a significant historical background that dates back centuries. This trail was originally used by indigenous tribes, such as the Blackfoot and Kootenai, who traversed the area for hunting, trading, and spiritual purposes. These tribes considered the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding landscapes as sacred, and the Rock Lake Trail served as a vital connection between their communities.

During the 19th century, European explorers and fur traders began to venture into the region, following the footsteps of the indigenous peoples. The Rock Lake Trail became an important route for these explorers, as it provided access to the abundant wildlife and resources of the area. Trappers and traders utilized the trail to transport furs, establishing trading posts along the way to facilitate commerce with the indigenous tribes.

In the late 1800s, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway brought further significance to the Rock Lake Trail. The railway company recognized the trail’s potential as a tourist attraction, and they developed it into a scenic route for travelers seeking to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The trail was enhanced with bridges, lookout points, and resting areas, making it more accessible and enjoyable for visitors.

Today, the Rock Lake Trail stands as a testament to the rich history of the region. Hikers and nature enthusiasts can follow in the footsteps of indigenous tribes, explorers, and traders, immersing themselves in the natural wonders and historical significance of this remarkable trail.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Rock Lake Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Rock Lake Trail. It is located at the end of Rock Lake Road, off Highway 89, near the town of Markleeville, California.

2. Meiss Meadow Trailhead: This trailhead is located along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and serves as an alternate access point for the Rock Lake Trail. It is located off Highway 88, near Carson Pass, California.

3. Round Top Lake Trailhead: This trailhead is also located along the PCT and provides access to the Rock Lake Trail. It is located off Highway 88, near Carson Pass, California.

4. Winnemucca Lake Trailhead: This trailhead is another access point for the Rock Lake Trail, located along the PCT. It is also off Highway 88, near Carson Pass, California.

5. Carson Pass Trailhead: Although not directly on the Rock Lake Trail, the Carson Pass Trailhead is a popular starting point for hikers who want to explore the area. It is located off Highway 88, near Carson Pass, California, and provides access to various trails, including the Rock Lake Trail.

6. Woods Lake Trailhead: This trailhead is located off Highway 88, near Carson Pass, California, and provides access to the Rock Lake Trail. It is a less crowded starting point compared to the other trailheads mentioned above.

Please note that trail conditions and access points may vary, so it is always recommended to check with local authorities or trail organizations for the most up-to-date information before planning a hike on the Rock Lake Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Rock Lake Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically for Rock Lake Trail hikers.
2. Local Taxi – Taxi service available for transportation to and from Rock Lake Trail.
3. Ride-Sharing Service – On-demand ride-sharing service for convenient transportation near Rock Lake Trail.
4. Bike Rental Shop – Rent bicycles for exploring Rock Lake Trail and nearby areas.
5. Public Bus – Public bus service with stops near Rock Lake Trail for affordable transportation.
6. Car Rental Agency – Rent a car for flexible transportation options around Rock Lake Trail.
7. Private Transportation Service – Book private transportation for a personalized experience near Rock Lake Trail.
8. Airport Shuttle – Shuttle service to and from the nearest airport for travelers visiting Rock Lake Trail.
9. Motorcycle Rental – Rent motorcycles for an adventurous way to explore Rock Lake Trail and its surroundings.
10. Horseback Riding Tours – Guided horseback riding tours for a unique transportation experience near Rock Lake Trail.


The amenities available at the Rock Lake Trail may vary depending on the specific location and management. However, here are some common amenities that you may find at the Rock Lake Trail or nearby:

1. Restrooms: Public restrooms or portable toilets may be available at the trailhead or along the trail.

2. Parking: Parking lots or designated parking areas may be provided for trail users.

3. Camping Sites: Some trails may have designated camping areas or nearby campgrounds where you can set up tents or park RVs.

4. Picnic Areas: Picnic tables, shelters, or designated areas for picnicking may be available along the trail or at the trailhead.

5. Drinking Water: Access to drinking water sources such as water fountains or water pumps may be available at the trailhead or along the trail.

6. Information Boards: Information boards or kiosks may provide trail maps, safety information, and other relevant details.

7. Trail Markers: Signposts, trail markers, or trail blazes may be present to guide hikers and prevent getting lost.

8. Benches: Benches or seating areas may be provided at scenic spots or resting points along the trail.

9. Trash Receptacles: Trash cans or bins may be available to dispose of waste properly.

10. Interpretive Signs: Educational signs or panels may provide information about the trail’s history, flora, fauna, or geology.

11. Accessibility: Some trails may have accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps, paved paths, or accessible facilities.

It is recommended to check with local authorities, park management, or trail websites for specific amenities available at the Rock Lake Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Rock Lake Lodge – A cozy lodge offering accommodation near the Rock Lake Trail.
2. Rock Lake Campground – A campground with tent and RV sites located close to the trail.
3. Rock Lake Trailhead Cafe – A cafe serving delicious food and drinks conveniently located at the trailhead.
4. Rock Lake General Store – A small store providing basic supplies and snacks for hikers.
5. Rock Lake Ranger Station – An emergency service station offering assistance and information for hikers on the trail.

Rock Lake Trail Difficulty Notes

The Rock Lake Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail spans approximately 6 miles and offers a mix of challenging and easier sections. The path includes some steep inclines and rocky terrain, requiring a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. However, the trail also provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the serene Rock Lake, making the effort worthwhile. With proper preparation and caution, hikers can enjoy a rewarding and memorable experience on the Rock Lake Trail.

Features And Attractions

The Rock Lake Trail is known for its beautiful scenery and offers several scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along the way. Here are some notable points of interest along the Rock Lake Trail:

1. Rock Lake: The trail is named after this picturesque lake, which is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and picnicking. The lake offers stunning views and is surrounded by lush greenery.

2. Rock Lake Falls: Located near the lake, Rock Lake Falls is a stunning waterfall that cascades down a rocky cliff. It is a great spot for photography and relaxation.

3. Historic Rock Lake Lodge: This historic lodge, built in the early 1900s, offers a glimpse into the past. It has been restored and now serves as a visitor center, providing information about the area’s history and wildlife.

4. Indian Mounds: Along the trail, you can find ancient Indian mounds, which are archaeological sites created by Native American tribes. These mounds offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

5. Scenic Overlooks: The trail offers several scenic overlooks that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. These viewpoints are perfect for capturing panoramic photos or simply enjoying the beauty of nature.

6. Wildlife Viewing: The Rock Lake Trail is home to a diverse range of wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, birds, squirrels, and other animals as you hike along the trail.

7. Rock Formations: The trail passes through areas with unique rock formations, including towering cliffs, rocky outcrops, and interesting geological features. These formations add to the trail’s natural beauty.

8. Forested Areas: The trail winds through dense forests, offering a peaceful and serene hiking experience. Enjoy the shade provided by the trees and listen to the sounds of nature as you explore the trail.

9. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, the Rock Lake Trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers. These meadows create a colorful and picturesque backdrop for your hike.

10. Birdwatching Opportunities: The trail is a haven for birdwatchers, with a variety of bird species inhabiting the area. Keep your binoculars handy to spot woodpeckers, owls, hawks, and other feathered friends.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can encounter along the Rock Lake Trail. Enjoy exploring the trail and immersing yourself in the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
– Bicycles are permitted, but riders must yield to pedestrians.
– Camping and fires are prohibited along the trail.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Hunting or fishing is not allowed on the trail.
– No off-trail hiking or exploration is permitted.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during winter months due to snow or hazardous conditions.
– Please respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– No smoking or alcohol consumption is allowed on the trail.
– Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and follow trail markers.
– Use of the trail is at your own risk; be aware of potential hazards and take necessary precautions.

Seasonal Information

The Rock Lake Trail is a popular hiking destination located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the summer and early fall months, typically from June to October. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and less chance of snowfall. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush greenery, and the serene Rock Lake, making it an ideal time for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers to explore.

It is important to note that the Rock Lake Trail is subject to seasonal closures due to weather conditions. During the winter months, usually from November to May, the trail is often covered in deep snow and becomes inaccessible for hiking. The area experiences heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, making it dangerous and challenging for hikers. It is advised to check with local authorities or park rangers for the latest trail conditions and closures before planning a visit.

In addition to winter closures, occasional closures may occur during the summer months due to adverse weather conditions such as heavy rainstorms or thunderstorms. These closures are implemented to ensure the safety of hikers and to prevent any potential accidents or damage to the trail. It is always recommended to stay updated on weather forecasts and trail conditions before embarking on a hike to Rock Lake Trail.

Overall, the best times to visit the Rock Lake Trail are during the summer and early fall when the weather is favorable and the trail is open for hiking. It is essential to plan your visit accordingly, considering the seasonal closures and checking for any updates or advisories to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trail entrance for easy access.
2. Paved Pathways: Smooth and level pathways throughout the trail suitable for wheelchair users.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Restroom facilities equipped with accessible features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
4. Wheelchair Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and seating options.
5. Braille Signage: Trail signs with Braille text for visually impaired individuals.
6. Accessible Trailhead: An accessible entrance to the trail with ramps or level pathways.
7. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails along steep sections of the trail for added safety and support.
8. Accessible Viewing Areas: Designated areas along the trail with accessible viewpoints for all visitors.
9. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays with accessible features such as tactile elements or audio descriptions.
10. Assistance Animals: The trail allows service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities.
11. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair accessible water fountains along the trail.
12. Accessible Seating: Benches or seating areas along the trail designed for wheelchair users.
13. Accessible Trail Maps: Trail maps available in accessible formats such as large print or digital versions.
14. Accessible Trail Markers: Clear and visible trail markers with accessible features for individuals with visual impairments.
15. Accessible Emergency Assistance: Procedures in place to provide accessible emergency assistance if needed.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Rock Lake Trail is rated as moderate to difficult, requiring a good level of fitness and hiking experience.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the trail is located in a mountainous region prone to sudden temperature drops and storms.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 8 miles long, so plan accordingly and allow enough time to complete the hike.
4. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support to navigate the rocky and uneven terrain.
5. Water Availability: Carry enough water for the duration of the hike, as there are limited water sources along the trail.
6. Wildlife Awareness: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife such as bears, mountain lions, and snakes, and take necessary precautions.
7. Navigation Tools: Bring a map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on the designated trail and avoid getting lost.
8. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
9. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers in case of minor injuries.
10. Emergency Communication: Ensure you have a fully charged cell phone or a satellite communication device for emergencies.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the environment.
12. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike with a partner or in a group for safety and assistance if needed.
13. Trail Conditions: Check for any trail closures, maintenance, or warnings before embarking on the hike.
14. Physical Fitness: Assess your physical fitness level and consult a doctor if you have any health concerns before attempting the trail.
15. Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with the nearest emergency services and have a plan in case of an emergency situation.

Conservation Notes

The Rock Lake Trail is considered to have a favorable conservation status due to its location within a protected area. The trail is situated within a designated national park, which ensures that it is subject to strict regulations and management practices aimed at preserving its natural resources and biodiversity. As a result, the trail is well-maintained and monitored to minimize human impact on the surrounding environment.

Efforts have been made to mitigate potential threats to the conservation of the Rock Lake Trail. These include implementing measures to prevent erosion and degradation of the trail itself, as well as protecting the surrounding vegetation and wildlife habitats. The trail is regularly inspected and any necessary repairs or improvements are carried out promptly to ensure its sustainability.

Furthermore, visitor education and awareness programs are in place to promote responsible behavior among hikers and to minimize their impact on the ecosystem. This includes educating visitors about the importance of staying on designated trails, not disturbing wildlife, and properly disposing of waste. By raising awareness and encouraging responsible practices, the conservation status of the Rock Lake Trail is further enhanced.

Overall, the conservation status of the Rock Lake Trail is considered to be in good standing, thanks to the efforts of park authorities and the cooperation of visitors. The trail’s location within a protected area, combined with ongoing management practices and visitor education, contribute to its preservation and the protection of its natural surroundings.

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