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Big Meadow Trailhead to Dardanelles Lake

Intermediate
  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

7.7 mile 12.4 kilometer out and back
87% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,309' 399 m
Descent: -1,309' -399 m
High: 8,080' 2,463 m
Low: 7,251' 2,210 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 34% (19°)

Dogs

Off-leash
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Trail shared by Amy Hikesalot

A pretty, forested climb to beautiful Dardanelles Lake.

Amy Hikesalot

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers

Overview

The run to Darndanelles Lake features a short, steady climb to Big Meadow, full of wildflowers in season; then a long, gradual ascent to a ridge with beautiful views of the peaks surrounding Dardanelles Lake. After the ridge, the trail descends through beautiful forest and crosses a couple of shallow creeks before arriving a lovely, granite-rimmed Dardanelles Lake.

Need to Know

The parking at the trailhead is free and bathrooms are located in the parking area.

Description

The trailhead is at the lower end of the parking lot. The flat trail takes you a few hundred yards before crossing Highway 89. After a short climb through pines and aspens, you'll reach a signed junction. Take a hard right on the trail to Meiss Lake and ascend to aptly named Big Meadow.

Cross Big Meadow and climb gently through a conifer forest. Occasionally you'll pass by a meadow or run by a sage and aspen dotted slope. Reach the top of the ridge and glance down at the beautiful panorama of the mountains around Dardanelles Lake.

A well-graded descent takes you to another junction. Take the Lakes Valley Trail and continue through a beautiful forest of aspen, pine, and fir. After 0.2 miles, a junction to Dardanelles Lake is reached. Turn left toward Dardanelles Lake and cross a small creek on stepping stones.

After a small, brief ascent, Dardanelles Lake comes into view. Across the beautiful lake, there are gorgeous views of a striking ridgeline. On the south end of the lake, sheer cliffs drop into the clear, shallow water. The whole lake is ringed with white granite, perfect for relaxing and camping.

Flora & Fauna

Jeffry pines, aspens, firs, and many varieties of wildflowers.

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#3478

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Featured Run Rankings

#536

in California

#3,478

Overall
7 Views Last Month
88 Since Sep 22, 2019
Intermediate

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Photos

First sight of the lake through the pine trees - and lunch time!
Sep 1, 2018 near South L…, CA
Steps along the trail.
Aug 22, 2016 near South L…, CA
Big Meadow, heading north back towards the trailhead
Oct 30, 2018 near South L…, CA
Bridging the creek
Sep 1, 2018 near South L…, CA

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