Skip to content

Alpine Lakes Loop Great Basin National Park

Teresa Lakes is shown on the Alpine Lakes Loop at Great Basin

The Alpine Lakes Loop at Great Basin National Park is a beautiful trail that takes hikers to two high-mountain lakes. Hiking this short loop is a great way to experience the higher life zones on mountains in the Great Basin Desert.

Because Great Basin National Park has an elevation change of 8,000 feet, it has five different life zones. The Alpine Lakes Loop passes through the mountain zone with views of the alpine zone.

Wheeler Peak is shown

Finding the trailhead

The Alpine Lakes Loop begins at the same trailhead as the Bristlecone Pine, Glacier, and Sky Island Forest trails at Great Basin. This trailhead is at the end of Wheeler Peak Road, just before you enter the Wheeler Peak Campground.

The Alpine Lakes Loops is shown at Great Basin National Park

Trailhead to Stella Lake

You begin your hike by following the same path for all the trails at this trailhead. After 0.1 miles, you come to an intersection where you can either go to the right or straight. It doesn’t matter which way you go. Because it’s a loop, you are going to end up back at this point anyway. I chose to hike it counterclockwise, making the turn to the right.

A mountain stream is shown

The Alpine Lakes Loop takes meanders its way up through pine and aspen trees that are typical of the mountain life zone. It has several long switchbacks that make the short climb up the mountain easier.

Wheeler Peak is shown

After about 0.4 miles you begin to get views of Wheeler Peak towering above. You also get peaks into the alpine life zone as the forest thins with meadows and rock glaciers. Around mile 0.7, you come to a beautiful mountain meadow with an amazing view of Wheeler Peak. This is one of my favorite views in the whole park. And I would love to go back when the aspens are in their golden glory.

Wheeler Peak is shown

The Alpine Lakes Loop intersects with the Summit Trail, which takes you to the top of Great Basin National Park. The Summit Trail follows along the Alpine Lake Loop for a short way before splitting to the right around mile 1. Here you want to continue straight.

Stella Lake is shown

Stella Lake to Teresa Lake

You come to Stella Lake around mile 1.05 and there is a bench for you to sit and take in the view. Wheeler Peaks looms high above the lake, and it is such a beautiful view. You can also walk around the lake for more views and different angles.

The trail is shown

After you finish exploring Stella Lake the trail makes it way through the forest for about a half mile under the base of Wheeler Peak.

Around mile 1.8 you come to Teresa Lake. When I visited the park it was early September and Teresa Lake seemed low to me. But it still was beautiful with Wheeler Peak standing tall behind it. Teresa Lake also has a bench for relaxing.

Teresa Lake is shown on the Alpine Lakes Loop is shown at Great Basin

Teresa Lake to trailhead

The Alpine Lake Loop skirts around Teresa Lake providing you with even more beautiful views of Great Basin National Park. It then continues to head downhill back to the trailhead. As you hike through the mountain forest, keep your eyes peeled for bristlecone pines. This is below their normal elevation, but I did see at least one.

A bristlecone pine is shown

Around mile 2.1, the Bristlecone Pine and Glacier Trail intersect, branching off to the left. Here you want to go straight to complete the loop. The trail makes its way through the forest of pine and aspens. Around mile 2.65, you come back to the first intersection. And here, you retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Alpine Lakes Loop Great Basin

Hiking the Alpine Lakes Loop at Great Basin National Park is a great way to explore the mountain life zone. The two small lakes fill with snow melt and occasional summer storms in depressions carved out by glaciers long ago. Because the lakes are shallow and freeze nearly to the bottom in winter, there are no fish.

Trail facts:

  • 2.7 mile loop
  • Elevation gain and loss 475 feet
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Backcountry camping not allowed

Pin it! Alpine Lakes Loop Great Basin

Hiking the Alpine Lakes Loop at Great Basin National Park is a great way to explore the mountain life zone and see beautiful mountain scenery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Don’t just be lost, be the Right Kind Of Lost

Sign up for weekly emails and never miss a post!