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Grouse Ridge offers it all

Looking for a family day hike easy enough for a 3 year old with rewarding scenery and clear water for swimming?

Island Lake, located in the Grouse Ridge Vehicle Control Area of the Tahoe National Forest is a popular place to visit for its beauty and ease to hike to. It is a high mountain lake, in a “chain of pearls” created thousands of years ago when it was carved by glaciers.

“It’s an easy place to get to that has an incredible scenic punch,” said Phil Sexton, interpretive specialist with the Tahoe National Forest. The Sierran landscape, albeit different from Yosemite, would have been the stuff of John Muir’s dreams, Sexton said.



Many people use the Round Lake Trailhead at Carr-Feeley campground as a jumping off spot for backpacking trips into this roadless section of the Sierra. Elevations range from 6,500 to 8,000 feet. The trail begins pleasant and shaded and passes Carr and Feeley lakes and a frog pond with lily pads.

The short walk was completely do-able for my 3 year old. We took it slow and watched the frogs jump with a ‘kerplop’ into the pond. There were plenty of sticks and rocks to gather along the way. It takes about one and a half miles to reach Island Lake and piggyback rides helped quicken the pace.




A number of campgrounds dot the picturesque lake, surrounded by rocky knolls and scattered patches of timber. My family swam in the cool clear water and sunned ourselves on the warm granite rocks extending into Island Lake.

On warm summer weekends, the lake can be crowded so you may wish to plan your trip during the week.

Campers are advised to always purify water before drinking and never use the natural lakes to wash dishes, said Ann Westling, spokesperson for the Tahoe National Forest.

Mountain bicyclists and equestrian riders value Grouse Ridge for the area’s rocky trails and technical single track.

According to stocking reports from California Department of Fish and Game, 7,500 Rainbow fingerlings were planted in Large Island Lake on July 9 and 1,000 Rainbow were planted in Little Island Lake.

Penner was planted with cutthroat trout fingerlings in September of last year, records show. Carr and Feeley lakes have not been planted in several years.

For those that want a longer hike, turn onto the Crooked Lakes Trail which extends north to Penner Lake and Upper Rock Lake.

Penner Lake was called “the bluest lake that I have ever seen,” by Hank Meals, author of “Yuba Trails 2.”

Penner Lake is “one of the most scenic of the Grouse Lakes with good fishing and a number of campsites,” according to a trail description from the Nevada City Ranger District.

Whether hikers want a day hike or a week-long backpacking trip, Grouse Ridge is a worthwhile getaway.

“It’s all just right there,” Sexton said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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