Hiking Bear Lakes Loop in Lakes Basin Recreational Area

Last week I told you all about our day hiking to Eagle Lake in Tahoe. This is the follow up to that hike. This hike made that hike seem like a walk in the park.

The drive from Truckee to the round lake trail was about an hour and a half. We got an earlier start to the day to try to beat the impending heat.

Having learned from my desperate thirst on the hike the day before, I packed a Gatorade bottle my sister-in-law offered me. Thank God I did because I ended up needing it later.

The trail is gorgeous and links up to the Pacific Crest Trail aka the PCT aka that trail the chick from Wild hiked. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

The trail starts off mostly flat and easy. So easy that I felt kinda silly trotting along with my walking sticks (which I'd never used before). Pretty soon you start gaining elevation.

We hiked past some old mining equipment that's been left near the site of a gold mine from back in the gold rush. I looked out on the landscape and wondered how much it had changed since then. I imagined the lengths people went through to even reach the same place I was standing and compared it to how easily accessible it was to me in the present day. I felt weirdly nostalgic for a time I'd never known.

We hit the point on the trail where we had to decide whether to hike up to the PCT and we decided to do it if only just so we could say we'd been on it. I got all excited and felt super cool about myself. Little did I know that we'd have to hike up—like wayyyy up—before we got to the pacific crest trail.

That up there is the PCT

That up there is the PCT

I’ll be straight up with you, that climb was brutal and didn’t really let up once we were on the PCT. It pushed me mentally and physically (duh), but the payoff was amazing. I might go as far as saying I’d do it again!

Still not over the view of the Sierra Buttes from our lunch spot.

The mountains called and I went. #hoodlumsroam #pacificcresttrail

A photo posted by A l e x H o o d (@tinted_green) on

Joining up with the PCT is optional. We found out later that the hike would have been about half as long (as in 4 miles shorter) had we decided not to do it.

We finally made it down to Silver Lake, the second to last lake you see on the Round Lake Loop Trail. By this point I was overheating and feeling weak. My sister-in-law Taylor was prepped and ready to swim. I, on the the other hand had carried my swimsuit with me in my backpack but hadn’t had the forethought to actually wear my suit on the hike.

I refused to miss out on swimming in a mountain lake a second time so I grabbed my swim bottoms out of the bag, found myself a semi-private spot behind a tree and some boulders and gave myself the quick change peptalk of a lifetime. I reminded myself that if I could change in and out of my swimsuit in a packed girls locker room for PE freshmen year of high school without completely flashing everybody in sight, I could absolutely do it at 26.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it took me about five seconds to switch out my bottoms. I decided to sacrifice my sports bra for the cause and dove in still in my tank top.

The water instantly cooled me off. Again, the water was warm for being a lake out in the forest. Taylor and I splashed around for a little while like we were kids.

I had a beautiful moment in the lake. One of those small but memorable times of life where you tell yourself to remember the moment you’re in. To catalogue it under the happy times. I laid down into the water and let myself float in the shallow for a few seconds. I closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face. I breathed in the mountain air with a smile. I felt the water move through my fingers. It was magic.


Alex Hood

I was born and raised in California. After spending three years in San Diego for college, I moved back to the Bay Area suburbs. I'm always looking for new ways of exploring my natural surroundings, but you can also bet that I'll stop by a local coffee shop on my way there!