San Francisco: Bear Lake/Emigrant Wilderness - Backpacker

San Francisco: Bear Lake/Emigrant Wilderness

Wildflower pockets and piles of granite boulders punctuate this mellow 7.4-mile route to two alpine lakes with primo campsites.
Publish date:

Mapped by David Miller, Bay Area Outdoors

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.9


Azure Glow

Location: 38.165596, -119.8790207

Shimmering in the Sierra sun, Camp Lake beckons for a swim. ©Dave Miller

Morning over Bear Lake

Location: 38.1752434, -119.8666306

A calm morning over Bear Lake. ©Dave Miller

Bear Lake Panorama

Location: 38.1737556, -119.866684

©Dave Miller

Pine Valley

Location: 38.1643257, -119.8824921

The view of the eastern edge of Pine Valley from near Bear Lake. Great scrambling opportunities everywhere. ©Dave Miller

East End of Bear Lake

Location: 38.165966, -119.8778

©Dave Miller

Bear Lake

Location: 38.1660995, -119.8774796

©Dave Miller

Sunset Over Bear Lake

Location: 38.1734352, -119.8664093

©Dave Miller

Morning Over Bear Lake

Location: 38.1740723, -119.8670044

©Dave Miller


Location: 38.1785889, -119.9068985

Head N from Crabtree trailhead (7,180 ft.) toward Bell Creek bridge to begin southward climb


Location: 38.1764793, -119.9063034

Cross Emigrant Wilderness boundary, then traverse ridgeline of tall red firs and cedars


Location: 38.1683693, -119.905899

Begin 300-foot ascent into narrowing gully


Location: 38.1652489, -119.9007034

Straight @ trail marker for Camp and Bear Lakes, bearing E


Location: 38.1644516, -119.8915024

Stroll through a serene glade of quaking aspens


Location: 38.1652489, -119.8824997

Fuel up @ Camp Lake (7,590 ft) in a shallow basin with pine-laced granite terraces


Location: 38.1650085, -119.879303

Don't miss: Concealed outcrop with sweeping vistas of Pine Valley's sloping white marble crags and forest that's regenerating from the 2003 Mountain Fire


Location: 38.1661606, -119.8778992

Continue N @ trail marker for Bear Lake across fields of yellow and "wandering" daisies, big blue lupines


Location: 38.1729889, -119.8728027

Note large, stacked boulder formations on L


Location: 38.1744003, -119.8668976

Bear Lake (8,100 ft.): Alpine gem locked in by lodgepoles and boulders near headwaters of Lily Creek; set up camp on NE side

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