Summary: Lake Margaret is one of the prettiest little lakes in the Sierra Nevada that you'll ever see.
The trail is moderate, and difficult to follow in places. There are many spur trails taking off from the main trail. Try to stay on the main trail and look for signposts to guide you. Near the end, at a creek/log crossing, the trail becomes very indistinct, and you may need to search around to pick it up again.
This trail becomes quite busy on the weekends. Weekdays or early in the morning is the best time to visit.
Trailhead: From Hwy 88/89 junction, drive 12.2 miles west on Hwy 88 to the marked Lake Margaret trailhead (0.2 miles past the Caples Lake dam). (Lat:38.72256 Lon:-120.0859)
Trail Guides for Lake Margaret - El Dorado Natl Forest:
100 Classic Hikes in Northern California
by John Soares and Marc Soares (The Mountaineers)
by Tom Stienstra and Ann Marie Brown (Foghorn Outdoors)
Best Seasons: Fall, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: El Dorado National Forest, (209) 295-4251
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Leon Turnbull, who has posted 17 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Whitewater on 9/28/2015
Hiked as an overnighter with my 7 year old daughter on Sept 26/27/15. Beautiful trail with just enough technical features to keep the young one interested. Scenery along the well marked and easy to navigate trail is great with nice views of granite outcroppings and lovely streams in meadows. The lake was fantastic albeit a little on the cold side to swim in high 70deg air temps. Not a single biting bug and mild overnight temps made it a very pleasant night. I guess the mosquitos mentioned in other reviews are done for the year. There was a moderate amount of day traffic but only a handful of overnighters so the limited amount of sites wasn't an issue. We stayed on the west end of the lake and enjoyed both the sunset and rise.
Reviewed by Vince on 8/19/2012
Hiked this trail with the Boy Scouts. They found it easier than us baby boomers. Beautiful trail and scenic lake. Tasty brook trout and hungry mosquitos. Overall a great moderate hike with some tight spots which can twist your ankle or knee. Look for trail markers along the way. Oh yeh, great elevation (7,900 ft) to view the Milky Way on a clear night.
Reviewed by Viewer on 8/25/2008
There are many, many wonderful and breathtaking hikes in the general Mokelumne Wilderness/El Dorado National Forest area...this is not one of them. While the lake and surrounding vistas are very nice, the trail leaves a lot to be desired. Horses/pack animals have simply destroyed the first portion on the trail leaving it extremely dusty by late summer...and leaving just an awful amount of manure that must be negotiated around. Because you are constantly making sure to not have the "road biscuits" glued to your boots/shoes, much of the senery is missed [and this is from someone who grew up on a large cattle ranch!]. The trail is also quite rocky [hard on ankles]...and watch for the ducks and blazes or you can easily lose the main trail.
Reviewed by Liz on 7/8/2008
Just went there for the July 4th weekend. The trail was clear. You need to pay attention to the little rock piles, and the many spurs are also clearly marked with logs spanning them. This was a difficult hike with a full pack, but moderate with no pack. Bring lots of water and/or a filter, and ditto the bug spray, although it seems to depend on when you go and what time of day. But the real reason I'm writing is the lake. what people seem to have missed is that this lake is very warm for a high elevation lake. Heck, for any alpine lake. Totally swimmable and I very much recommend it. If you hike to the back of the lake, (a bit of a scramble, send someone to scout without a pack) you can swim nude without people seeing you.
Reviewed by Orlando on 6/20/2008
My girlfriend and I went there today and absolutely loved it.....the trail is pretty good. Just follow the carvings of what looks alike an upside down exclamation point on the trees and the stacks of little rocks along the path. The lake and the views were breathtaking. Mosquito repellant is a must!!!
Reviewed by Ryan on 6/6/2007
Wonderful little hike. Many places to view some beautiful scenery. Although it can't be stressed enough to bring bug repellant.
Reviewed by Joe on 6/3/2007
My wife and I thought this was a great hike. The last traces of snow are melting quickly, making way for the spring flowers. Very beautiful lake and the trail is pretty well marked. If you're wondering when you can start hiking this trail for the Summer, it is ready now! Enjoy!
Reviewed by Aaron on 5/23/2007
This is a great hike with good fishing. Brendan loves this place.
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.
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