Bear Lake From Southwest Shore

Bear Lake sits just inside the Emigrant Wilderness nestled in a granite valley accompanied by a sea of conifers. This peaceful, alpine lake makes for a perfect one day getaway during the summer months and to escape the heat of the foothills. The trailhead at Crabtree Camp is easily accessible by most vehicles despite the three miles of forest service dirt road (4N26), which is maintained for passenger vehicles. Crabtree Camp has plentiful parking although can get busy during the summer vacation season.


The highlights of this hike are of course Bear Lake but also Camp Lake (about halfway in), gorgeous vistas and several lush meadows. Although the elevation change is around 600 ft the trail undulates throughout the hike so the amount of climbing is a bit more, albeit easily done by most. Early summer, after the snow melts, is arguably the best time for this hike since the lakes and creeks are at capacity. Fall is a close second due to the color change of the wonderful aspens. No matter when you come you will likely encounter quite a few backpackers due to the proximity to the Emigrant Wilderness. Camp Lake is a perfect resting spot half way in but before moving on to Bear Lake make sure and climb up to the top of the granite on the south side of the lake for magnificent views overlooking Pine Valley. The trail to Bear Lake is easy to follow and all the intersections are well marked, however, various parts of the trail traverse over granite caps which make it easy to lose sight of the main trail. In this case look out for rock stacks to lead the way.

Crabtree Camp Trailhead is open from June to November but depending on the snow levels opening and closing dates vary. Check with the Summit Ranger District for area status before visiting.

Trail Specifics

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles one-way
  • Elevation Change: 580 ft.
  • Elevation Gain: 990 ft.
  • Best Season: summer, fall
  • Open To: hikers, horseback
  • Dogs: yes, on leash
  • Hrs of Operation: June-Nov (varies each season)
  • Fees: none
  • Managed By: Summit Ranger District USFS
  • Restrictions: permit required to camp within Emigrant Wilderness

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