The Lakes Basin Recreation Area is filled with trails to hike and lakes to sit by. You can visit the area for a week and find a new place to explore each day. The trails are not difficult and the mileage between the lakes is very small, so in a day's walk you can visit several lakes. One of the most frequented trails is the Bear Lakes Loop which passes by four lakes in about two miles. Even the youngest member of your hiking party can enjoy this hike. The most strenuous hike in the area entails hiking 1,500 feet to the top of Mt. Elwell, three miles from the campground to the summit. The view from the peak overlooks the lakes and, in the distance, you can see the Sierra Buttes, and sometimes, on very clear days, Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Diablo, and Mt. Tamalpais. Visit the Lakes Basin and you will return year after year, never tiring of the beauty of this gem in the Sierra.
Three hours right from the lodge will get you to the top of this 7800 foot mountain. The view from the top gives you a panoramic view of the basin. The mountain had a lookout tower until the 1930's and pieces of it are still visible near the peak.
You drive for about 20 minutes to get to the trailhead for this hike. It is a two and a half mile hike to the top at 8400 feet where an unmanned tower provides a spectacular viewing platform of the hidden lakes in this part of the Lakes Basin Recreation Area.
A two mile trail to the top of this peak takes you in and out of trees on a rocky path before you top out on this viewpoint. You look out on the Mohawk and Sierra Valleys below and to the Sierra Buttes to the west. You drive to this trailhead on a wooded unpaved road.
The trail for this mountain begins near the historic mining town of Johnsville, a half hour drive from the lodge. Two hours will take you past Eureka Lake, meandering through woods and open areas, until you break out on the peak's rocky top. You are rewarded with the view of the Sierra Buttes in the distance.
Elwell Lakes Lodge is operated under a special use permit issued by the Plumas National Forest and is an equal opportunity recreation services provider