Last updated: November 22, 2023
Total Distance: 2.7 miles / 4.4 kilometers
Elevation Gain: 440 feet / 134 meters
Time: 1.5 hours - 3 hours
Begin at: Bristlecone Trailhead/End of the Scenic Drive
One of the most popular trails in Great Basin National Park, the Alpine Lakes Loop allows folks to get away from the road but not straining too hard. Just under three miles, this loop hike passes by two alpine lakes, Teresa and Stella lakes, all while going through alpine meadows and coniferous forests. Passing in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Snake Range, Wheeler Peak and Doso Doyabi are visible on this trail providing sweeping views of the sheer cliffs and flanks of these mountains. Wildflowers and wildlife are regularly visible during the summer months, and a night hike rewards many with a vast night sky. Winter is a similarly good time to visit, though will need to be linked with the Lehman Creek Trail afer the closure of the Scenic Drive.
The Bristlecone Trail also overlaps the early sections of this trail and can be linked together for a total combined distance of 4.1 miles / 6.6 kilometers. See the trail map below (unavailable on NPS app) for clarification on the overlapping sections.
Beginning at an elevation of just under 10,000 feet, these trails provide both a respite from the summer heat of the Snake Valley, but also added dangers in the form of altitude sickness and afternoon thunderstorms. Be prepared with plenty of water and salty snacks, or to return to your vehicle if you become symptomatic of altitude sickness or see thunderclouds rolling in.
This hike starts at the Bristlecone Trailhead at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Parking outside of designated spaces or along the road is prohibited.
No pets permitted on park trails. Trained service animals allowed. Learn more about service animal regulations at this link.
Potable water is not available along the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. Pack sufficient water with you, about one gallon per person per day. Water is available year-round at the nearby Lehman Caves Visitor Center or seasonally at the dump station.
The nearest restrooms are pit toilets with no running water at the Bristlecone Trailhead.
Find the Alpine Lakes Loop on the trail map emerging from the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive's entrance is located off Highway 488 leading to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. The road is paved with an 8% grade. Vehicles longer than 24 feet are not permitted past the Upper Lehman Creek Campground.
Ranger Tip: The loop is best hiked in its entirety. Stella Lake marks the midpoint of the trail, so turning around won't shorten the distance and will repeat scenery. Additionally, 10,000 feet in elevation is often 20-30 degrees F cooler than the valley below.