The Top 5 Best Places to Go Hiking Near Kirkwood


Discover the top 5 hiking destinations near Kirkwood, California. Immerse yourself in breathtaking scenery, majestic peaks, and pristine wilderness.

Posted on June 5, 2023

Family Hikes in Kirkwood, CA.

Nestled in the picturesque Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, Kirkwood Resort serves as the gateway to a plethora of breathtaking hiking trails that attract outdoor enthusiasts from far and wide. With its proximity to the stunning Eldorado National Forest, adventurers can explore a diverse range of landscapes, from towering alpine peaks to lush meadows and 800-foot cascading waterfalls. Whether you seek a leisurely stroll or a thrilling mountain ascent, the hiking trails near Kirkwood Resort offer an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Discover the top five spots for hiking near Kirkwood, California. 

1. Explore Nature's Playground on the Emigrant Pass Trail 

The Emigrant Pass Trail in Kirkwood, California, is a captivating hiking route that takes adventurers on a journey through breathtaking alpine scenery and rugged wilderness. This trail offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of various skill levels. Beginning at the Carson Pass Information Station, you’ll traverse through pristine meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers before ascending to the breathtaking Emigrant Pass.  

You can access this trailhead at the Kirkwood Resort Base near Kirkwood Meadows Drive. The trail rewards hikers with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including glimpses of the sparkling Caples Lake. As you navigate the 5.8-mile out-and-back trail, you’ll encounter serene lakes, babbling streams, and dense forests, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the area. The Emigrant Pass Trail is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable experience hiking near Kirkwood, CA. 

2. Experience the Wonder of The Lower Coral Loop Trail 

The Lower Coral Loop hiking trail in Kirkwood, California, found at Kirkwood Base Area is a diverse and captivating trail that showcases the natural beauty of the area. This trail joins the Snowkirk, Capels Crest, and Vista trails to create a 4.2-mile moderate loop with an 800-foot elevation change. The trail is rated at a moderate level of difficulty, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The loop takes hikers through a picturesque landscape of towering evergreen forests, tranquil meadows, and breathtaking mountain vistas.  

Along the way, hikers can marvel at the scenic Snowkirk and Capels Crest, enjoy panoramic views from Vista Point, and plenty of places to stop for a scenic picnic. This trail provides an immersive and memorable hiking experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural wonders of hiking near Kirkwood, California. 

3. Plan a Perfect Day Hike at Upper Coral Loop 

Like the Lower Coral Loop trail, this pristine hiking trail located in El Dorado National Forest is another popular location for hiking near Kirkwood California. While the Upper Coral Loop is a short 2.8-mile loop, the trail is rated as difficult and can be accessed from Snowkirk Road at Kirkwood Resort. The various elevation changes, steep grades, and rough terrain on the trail contribute to its difficulty. You’ll want to have plenty of extra water and snacks for this hike as conditions can change on the trail rapidly.  

The trial is mixed-use so use precaution and watch for cyclists. Parts of the Upper Coral Loop are only accessible in the warmer months as areas cross ski trails in the winter. Taking an average of an hour and a half to complete, this trail is perfect for those looking to get off the beaten path and enjoy the outdoors.  

4. View Stunning Scenery at the Red Cliffs and Sheps Lake Trail 

The Red Cliffs and Sheps Lake Trail in Kirkwood, California, will take you on a captivating journey through a unique and scenic landscape. As you embark on this 5-mile out-and-back trail on Kirkwood Resort, the moderate level of difficulty caters to hikers of varying experience levels, though small children and those with disabilities should use caution.  

Along the trail, you'll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the striking Red Cliffs, adorned in vibrant hues of red and orange against the lush greenery. Continuing onwards, you'll reach Sheps Lake, where you'll have the opportunity to take a refreshing dip or simply revel in the serenity of the alpine setting. The combination of dramatic cliffs and tranquil waters makes the Red Cliffs and Sheps Lake Trail another great trail for hiking near Kirkwood, CA. The trail is open from spring through fall only. 

5. Adventure into Deep Wilderness on The Covered Wagon and Melissa Coray Peak Trail 

Not for the casual hiker, the Covered Wagon and Melissa Coray Peak Trail is a grueling 9-mile out-and-back trail that features a whopping 2,400 feet of elevation change throughout. Generally considered a difficult trail, it takes an average of five and a half hours to complete and starts at the bottom of the Cornice Express Gondola at Kirkwood Resort. The route takes you from Kirkwood Village across to Covered Wagon and Melissa Coray Peaks. While the trail is groomed and cared for throughout, there are areas along the trail that will require off-trail hiking and scrambling. The trail is marked; however, it is recommended that you bring a physical map other than your mobile device with you.  

Tips for Hiking Near Kirkwood California 

If you’re planning on exploring one of the many hiking trails near Kirkwood, CA there are a few things to keep in mind. Before venturing out, be sure to thoroughly plan and prepare. Check local trail conditions, plan to start your hike early, and pack extra water and snacks for longer hikes. Stay on designated trails, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and leave no trace. 

There are many lodging options in and around the area if you're planning on a longer hiking adventure. Kirkwood Resort has excellent options for short and long-term lodging. With plenty of local dining and shopping options, Kirkwood Resort is the top choice for your next amazing hiking trip. 

Ready to Plan Your Next Adventure? 

No trip to Kirkwood Resort is complete without checking out the many pristine Kirkwood hiking trails. From easy and slow to long and grueling, there is a perfect hiking trail for everyone. Get started planning your next hiking adventure to Kirkwood today. Find lodging options, dining plans, and lift tickets to get to the trailhead easily when you book with Kirkwood Resort.