A challenging hike to a beautiful, secluded alpine lake, with incredible views. This is a dog-friendly hike with a lake at the top that is just beckoning for you to dive on in. The wildflowers along the way are breathtaking. 7.6 miles out-and-back. 1,695 foot elevation gain.

The hike to Bull Run Lake is about 7.8 miles, roundtrip, and begins at the Stanislaus Meadows Trailhead, located about 10 miles West of Ebbetts Pass. There is plenty of parking near the trailhead, off of the South side of CA 4. The trailhead GPS coordinates are: N38 30.376' / W119 56/617'

Once you head out from the parking lot, the actual Stanislaus Meadows Trailhead is a ways down the path. The trail starts out relatively flat. It winds through meadows and forests. About 1/8 of a mile past the Stanislaus Meadows Trailhead sign you will start to hear running water. Veer off the trail to the left, if you'd like, for a quick detour and you will see a creek cascading over some rocks. There are some great swimming holes in there if you (or your dog) need to cool off.

Continue on the main trail and you will eventually come upon a sign telling you that you are entering the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Keep on the official trail, bearing right towards the South.

The path will begin its ascent up a canyon. This part is relatively steep. You will hear and see a creek off to the right as you make the climb up the canyon. The wildflowers here are beautiful!

You'll come to a sign post where you can either go left towards Mosquito Lake, or right towards Bull Run Lake. Keep right. There is another steep, 300-foot climb, and the trail can be unclear at times. But it is easy to pick it back up again.

You'll come around the top of a ridge and find yourself on the shores of Bull Run Lake, near a small granite island. Set up camp in one of the designated campsites near the lake, or just hang out for the afternoon and go for a swim. It's a beautiful spot!

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks/Meals (depending on if you are camping over night or just there for the day)
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Warm layers
  • Hiking boots
  • Camera
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Activities Camping, Photography, Yoga, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole


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Overall rating: 

great hike

This is a great hike to a beautiful alpine lake. just check road conditions first because Ebbetts Pass is closed during the winter.


Perfect Hike If You're Trying To Backpack Out To A Beautiful Lake And Enjoy Mother Nature!

Epic Adventure

The trail starts out flat and continues this way for a while giving you a chance to really take in your surroundings. Then you will start a small decent down to the creek which you will have to cross a few times. This is where my friends and I lost the trail. We ended up on the wrong side of the creek which made our ascent much more difficult, having to climb granite rocks and walls. However if you stay on the trail, your journey won't be half as strenuous or long. Mind you, there is still quite a bit of snow coverage so make sure to keep a sharp eye out for the trail. There are plenty of trail markers so don't feel discouraged, we were just more than excited to get to the lake. Once you have reached Bull Run, you will be more than grateful to have made time for this trek. The views are absolutely stunning and the sunsets are unreal. I would gladly make the trip out here again. Whether you are staying the night or just enjoying a nice day, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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