Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shealor Lake Backpacking Trip

Shealor Lake Backpacking Trip Report
A couple of weekends ago we headed out to Shealor Lake which is south of Lake Tahoe, by Kirkwood, for a backpacking trip with friends. Our friends had not backpacked with their kids yet, so we were unsure how things would go. Hubby did some research and the hike in is about 1.5 miles so perfect for a first time family backpacking trip. It turned out to be a fun and awesome adventure for all.

From Davis, the drive to the Shealor Lake trailhead was a little over 2 hours. It was a Friday afternoon and we saw only a couple other cars at the trailhead. It was perfect timing as our friends arrived shortly after us. One disappointment about the trailhead was there was no bathroom, not even a port a potty. It wasn't the end of the world, but I was surprised that there wasn't one. I'd say 90% of trailheads have a port a potty, at least from my experience. So when you arrive, either go ahead of time or just be prepared to go in the woods. 
Shealor Lake Trailhead
The trail is to the right of where the map is. Below is a pic of the start of the trail and you can see the "trail" sign on the tree.

Backpacking Shealor Lake Trail head
The trail starts in a forest and it's not long before it opens up and turns rocky. At this point, we were out out of the trees.

Backpacking to Shealor Lake
At times you are just hiking on rock and you need to follow the cairns, or little rock piles to continue on the trail. It's a nice climb up.
Backpacking to Shealor Lake
Once up the rocky ridge it plateaus for a bit and then descends down to Shealor Lake.
Shealor Lake
Descending down to Shealor Lake
The lake is pretty awesome and the area is so beautiful. It's hard to see in the pic below but there is a streaming waterfall in the rocks.
Shealor Lake
The kids had fun exploring.
Shealor Lake
We set up camp not too far from the lake. It's really nice because there are a bunch of nice camp sites surrounding the lake. We were the only group (3 families total) the first night. However, on our second night, we saw two other parties set up camp on other areas of the lake.
Campsite by Shealor Lake
There was an already made fire pit near our campsite where we made a nice fire. If you want to make a fire or have a stove, you need a fire permit. You can pick up a permit at Forest Service or a CalFire station and it is good for 1 year. You can also get a campfire permit online here. The adults stayed up late that first night and the stars were out in full force. We could even see the milky way. It was so cool to see all the stars and constellations.
We did explore the area and went on a couple of short hikes. The first hike we did came to about 1.2 miles from our campsite. It was a nice hike up on the rocks and we even encountered a small patch of snow.
We also came across this pond.

We didn't go too far as it was still pretty early in the morning, so we headed back. Below you can get an idea of the rocky terrain. It's fun to hike on, at least I think so. :)
Campsite by Shealor Lake
The lake is freezing cold, but that did not stop my 7 year old from jumping in. 
Playing at Shealor lake
After enjoying some time by the lake, we headed out for another hike. This one required a bit more scrambling. Our goal was to head up to the top of the waterfall that we saw from the lake.
Scrambling at Shealor Lake
It is only about a half mile to the top and about 154 ft of elevation gain.

We followed cairns along the way and it took us to the waterfall. Here's a great view of Shealor lake from the waterfall area.

View of Shealor Lake
There were some cool pools of water at the top that were perfect for the kids to play in. We hung out here for a good while. It was also a perfect place for lunch.

Top of waterfall by Shealor Lake
Hubby figured we could do a loop back to our campsite, so we headed to do that. 

Hiking by Shealor Lake
We had to do a little bushwacking but we got back to our campsite. Got some more great views of the lake on this route.
We had beautiful sunsets both nights.
Sunset at Shealor Lake
The next morning we had breakfast then packed everything up and headed out.
On the way back to the trail head, we took a slight detour and headed up to a high point. I was pretty glad we did, because it was an awesome spot.
Highpoint at Shealor Lake
The hike back including the detour was about 1.6 miles with about 520 feet of elevation gain. I did think the hike back was harder than the hike in.
Overall, backpacking to Shealor Lake was awesome! The lake and terrain reminded me of my favorite backpacking area, the Enchantments in Washington state. It is a perfect first backpacking trip for families that have never gone. Our friends that went had a blast and I'm even happier because one of the families liked it so much they have already bought new gear for future backpacking trips. :) I definitely recommend this place, even for a short hike if you aren't into backpacking. The lake is serene and beautiful. The trip is definitely worthy of a jump for joy pic. 
Happy trails!

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