*Note, no wilderness permits are required. You just need to have a campfire permit to operate a camp stove.
**clicking the map of the hike will take you to my Garmin Page where you can find an interactive map. Garmin users can also download the course to their GPS devices.
Photos of the hike
This backpacking trip starts at Carr Lake off of Bowman Lake Road near Interstate 80 and Highway 120. There are several ways to get to Carr Lake depending on where you are coming from, so I'd recommend just searching for Carr Lake in Google Maps or another map resource. Basically, you'll want to get to Bowman Road off of Highway 20 and then turn off onto a dirt road with signs indicating "Carr Lake." Follow the signs to the trailhead. Be warned, you can take a two-wheel drive vehicle to the trailhead, but I'd prefer to take a car with more ground clearance. With that said, I saw several two-wheel drive cars at the trailhead so it can be done.
Once at the trailhead you'll take the trailhead past Carr Lake campground and along the north shore of Carr Lake. This portion of the trail is more like an old jeep road than a trail. Once you reach the end of Carr Lake, you'll reach the spillway coming out of Feely Lake. Follow the trail along the south shore of Feely Lake for about 1 mile until you reach a trail junction near Island Lake. Please note this junction can be hard to miss, but you'll want to continue along the south shore of Island Lake and continue heading approximately east. If you find yourself heading north along the west shore, you are going the wrong way.
After this junction, the trail winds for 1.3 miles passing Long Lake, Round Lake, and Milk Lake. Then you'll reach another trail junction. Continue along the Sand Ridge Trail towards Glacier Lake and the Five Lakes Basin. You'll hike for almost another mile before reaching an intersection with a trail heading north towards Middle and Shotgun Lake. Don't head north and instead continue along the Sand Ridge Trail. If this is the early season, the low trail may be covered in snow, and you'll have to follow the trail to the top of Sand Ridge. This is what I had to do and why the elevation gain is as much as it is. If you don't have to take the high trail, you'll save about 300 feet of extra elevation gain each way.
Assuming you can take the low trail, you'll follow it for another 2 miles until you reach the junction for Glacier Lake. I've heard this lake it beautiful but skip this junction and continue for another mile until you reach the Five Lakes Basin.
Once you are at the Five Lakes Basin, there are numerous campsites around the many lakes. I recommend just exploring around until you find a suitable campsite. The lakes are usually warm enough for swimming pretty early in the season, depending on how wet of a winter it was and how much snowmelt there is. When I went, it was a big winter, and so in early July, there were still snowfields feeding the lakes. Obviously, this made them much colder.
Remember to check for campfire restrictions before starting a fire in the area and make sure you have a campfire permit for your stove and if fires are allowed.
Day 2 is just retracing your steps back to the trailhead. Enjoy!!!
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