Mary West: Exploring Shealor Lakes Trail
This is a proper Sierra Nevada mountain hiking trail. Shealor Lakes Trail has it all with mountain views, mountain lakes, wildflowers in spring, and the peace and quiet of a moderately challenging trail. It is a bit short at only five miles round trip but there is some elevation change and loose rock that make it moderately challenging, so wear sturdy shoes and if you have trekking poles bring them along.
The drive out Mormon Emigrant Trail and Highway 88 in El Dorado County are great previews to the hike that starts just above 8,000 feet in elevation. I went in early summer and the wildflowers were stunning. The parking area was paved and had ample space. No toilets at the trailhead but a good map to get you started. The one sign I found on the trail was to the right of the trailhead map high up on a tree that simply said ‘trail.’
The adventure took me through the trees and out onto the exposed granite of the mountain. I stayed right to check out the view of the surrounding mountains as well as the glacial erratic rocks scattered there. Off to my left I could see the Shealor Lakes and picked my way across the rock face down to the first lake. The trail is fairly clear and the rock piles designating trail routes were a benefit. Signs would be better but just keep your eye on your destination and you will get there.
After a swim in the lake, lunch and enjoying the peace and quiet of this lovely mountain lake, I made my way back up the trail. I kept a particular tree in sight as the area where I started my decent. I returned to the tree and over the ridge top. The wind at the top is cut sharply once you make your way down the other side. Before I knew it the sound of cars on Highway 88 returned and I was back at the parking lot.
Mary West is the author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide. The books are a collection of Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond (Available on Amazon). West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Newspaper Column by the Outdoor Writers Association of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram
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