Loon Lake to Buck Island Lake

June 22, 2019 · El Dorado National Forest

A great hike through beautiful scenery, arriving at an alpine lake that will tempt all to brave the cold waters.


18.7 mi

Elevation gain

2,073 ft


2 days



The trail

Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.

Sat Jun


Buck Island Lake and Rubicon Reservoir

Stani and I left the city on Friday night after work. Just before 11pm we turned on to Ice House Road. We drove for about 15 minutes and pulled over in a nice large pullout to sleep for the night.

We finished the rest of the drive in the morning and arrived at the wilderness parking lot at Loon Lake around 9am. The day was beautiful, and sunscreen was a must. The last time we were here, everything was covered in snow, so it was fun to see it in different conditions. The trail was very well maintained and provided beautiful views of granite, pines, and adjacent lakes.

As we descended into the Buck Island Lake area, we started hearing OHVs (off-highway-vehicles) revving their engines. Apparently the east side of the lake is accessible by jeep, so lots of folks were spending the weekend driving over large rocks with their fancy off-road vehicles, blasting tunes, and firing guns. Not exactly what the other side of the lake was looking for when they hiked into the backcountry. Luckily, the border of Desolation Wilderness (which doesn't allow OHVs to my knowledge) was minutes away from the lake.

Stani and I set up camp at Buck Island Lake and then went exploring in Desolation Wilderness. We hiked for another 3 miles to Rubicon Reservoir. The area was stunning. Snow capped peaks dotted the horizon. It felt like real solitude. This is what we were looking for.

We played fetch for a bit, and tried exploring the historical Rubicon trail, but it was a little too historical and forgotten. After soaking the area up, we headed back to Buck Island Lake for more exploring, dinner, campfire, and sleep.

Sun Jun


And back

Preparing for this trip

Here is some information that comes in handy when preparing for this trip like this.

Trip posted by KP