This weekend, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful late summer weather and check out Lower Lola Montez Lake. It is one of those classic small High Sierra lakes, nestled in a forested, shallow granite basin, adorned with boulders perfect for diving or sunbathing, and populated with rainbow trout. The hike to the lake is a moderate out and back, about 6 to 7 miles round trip, and dogs are welcome. The elevation gain is about 700 feet, and the hike took us about three and a half hours, including the time we spent breaking for lunch.
The trailhead is accessed from the I-80 Soda Springs exit. Upon exiting, head North of the freeway, and take the road that runs east past the fire station. The road will dead end after about a quarter mile. Park on the street (check signs for parking restrictions) and the trailhead will be marked on the north side of the road.
The trail begins in shaded woods, and after less than a mile emerges onto a gravel road which is more exposed. At about 1.75 miles from the start, keep an eye out for a marked right hand turn which takes you off the gravel road and through the most challenging part of the hike. The trail is used by mountain bikers as well, and connects to "Hole in the Ground". We saw ten or so bikers, and about ten other hikers, during our few hours on the trail (this was on a Sunday in late August). After some elevation gain, the trail takes you onto a gravel road once again. Follow the gravel road and you'll come to a sign directing you back onto a more wooded trail which eventually drops you down at Lower Lola Montez Lake.
The lake is surrounded by trees and exposed boulders that make great spots to set up a picnic. We enjoyed our lunch and the serenity of the lake, and decided coming back in July was a must when the warmer weather would make for a great day to swim.
Looking to keep your fellow hikers entertained as you make your way to the lake? Find out more about Lola Montez’s fascinating story here. Interested in other outdoor adventures? Click here for more hikes and trails.