Location: Kirkwood, CA; El Dorado National Forest
Distance: 6.3 miles
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back
Permits & Fees: There is no permit or fee to park; however, parking is limited so arrive early! The entrance to the parking lot is marked by a sign that reads “Lake Margaret Trailhead” (the sign comes up quickly on the side of the highway, so keep an eye out for it).
Driving Directions: Click here.
Preparation: Water, sunscreen and warm clothing if hiking during the winter months are required. To beat the crowds, it’s best to complete this hike as early as possible.
The beginning of the trailhead is marked by the following sign (located towards the entrance of the parking lot):
Note that there is a path that looks like a trail at the other end of the parking lot. This is NOT the correct trail.
The trail begins down a narrow dirt path surrounded by trees and trail ducks (these will come in handy later).
Continue along the path while making sure to keep an eye out for the trail ducks. There are several forks on this trail that make it easy to get off track. Other helpful signs look like this:
A little less than a mile in, a small turnoff from the trail leads to a creek with a gorgeous view! I recommend completing this hike during the fall in order to catch this scenery:
Continue on the trail for another mile. Another notable part of this trail is a section that requires you to cross over a creek via a log; it isn’t dangerous, but make sure you don’t fall in!
Note that about 1.5-2 miles into the hike there is a separate lake, which is located to the right of the path:
Shortly after this lake, a small sign with arrows (pointing to the right) will be reached:
Continue on the trail to the right. Just before Lake Margaret is reached, there is a confusing point in the trail…
IMPORTANT – When this log is reached, make sure to walk across it to continue on the trail:
If you see this log with trail ducks, you have gone too far and need to locate the above log to walk across:
After walking across the log, continue on the trail for a short while until Lake Margaret comes into view:
After enjoying the scenery and Lake Margaret, take the same trail back to the trailhead.
Note: We were the first people on the trail at 9am. By the time we started making our way back, there were several people starting the hike and the lot was full. Make sure you start this hike early. Enjoy!