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Grouse Ridge to Glacier Lake

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Hike around and above 5 lakes, ending at great swimming hole.
Near:Nevada City, CA
Distance:8.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:682 ft
Hike Time:4 hours
Trail Condition:OK, but a few difficult spots
HikeType:Out and Back

Summary: In his book, Sierra Outdoors, John H. Skinner says there are more than 150 lakes over 2 acres in size within the Grouse Ridge area. With this hike, that's easy to believe, as you'll pass 3 large ones along the trail. You can just see Sanford Lake from the Grouse Ridge trailhead. A half-mile down a slope, you'll see Milk Lake on your left. A half-mile farther down, the trail forks and you could follow it to the west to visit Milk Lake. We're going to the east, however, leaving the Grouse Ridge Trail and following the Glacier Lake Trail. There are some spots of granite where the trail isn't visible, but if you stay between the hills and moving eastward you'll be fine. If you climb to the top of Sand Ridge from here and peer to the north, you can see the Sierra Buttes (see my hike, Sierra Buttes via PCT). Once past the granite, the trail is obvious once again and will take you right to the lake. Spend a good amount of time, eat lunch, go for a dip, then head home.
Trailhead: Highway 20 to Bowman Lake Road. Right on Grouse Ridge Road (dirt road labeled 14). At campground, follow Trailhead Parking sign to park. Restroom located at campground, untreated water available. (Lat:39.38851 Lon:-120.6099)
Trail Guides for Grouse Ridge to Glacier Lake:
Sierra Outdoors
by John H. Skinner  (Aardvark Publications

Grouse Ridge Trail
by Nevada City Ranger District (

Glacier Lake Trail
by Nevada City Ranger District (

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Nevada City Ranger District, 916-265-4531
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Greg Chance, who has posted  8 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews  Submit your own review
Reviewed by Doris on 5/26/2011
I have hiked many of the trails in the Grouse Ridge Basin and it will always be one of my favorite places in the area to hike. Glacier Lake is a beautiful hike and one should not have a problem getting to the trailhead. You do not need a 4 wheeldrive to get to any of the trailheads. There is more than one way to make it to the area.

Reviewed by BPB on 9/13/2009
Just completed the hike today. Did an overnighter, took the dog. About two hrs each way. easy to moderate. Beautiful lake. Three other hikers-campers but quiet. Road into the trail head at Grouse Ridge is a bit rough. I'll give it an 8 out of 10.

Reviewed by KY PAT on 5/26/2008
Grouse Ridge is a terrific hiking area, I have been going there for years with the Boy Scouts. We have done short one day hikes to week long 50 milers. The trails are well marked, the roads could be better, but the boys always come home happy and tired. Get a good map and include the Blue Lake-to the top of Grouse Ridge trail, also the Eagle Lakes Basin to the top of Grouse Ridge are terrific hikes. Happy hiking.

Reviewed by Megan R. on 8/26/2007
The area is beautiful, but we never actually made it to the hike, because we needed a 4x4 for the last 5 miles to the trailhead. Make sure you have a vehicle that can withstand a lot of bumps because the road is very rocky and uneven.

Reviewed by Olivier on 10/2/2006
A bit of a turn down... We hiked to Glacier lake, then to Five Lake Basin (just keep on the trail from Glacier lake) and came back via the Sand Ridge trail, which is nicer than the "official" Glacier lake trail. Season colors (last day of September) were nice but I bet late Spring when wild flowers bloom has to be a better choice. But Desolation Wilderness definitely offers much better hikes...

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Nevada County Hiking, Nevada County Trails, Nevada County Hikes

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