It was a cool, partly cloudy day for a hike to Lola Montez Lakes. This is an area of typical Sierra granite just west of Donner Pass. The trail to Lower Lola Montez Lake is now part of the popular Hole-in-Ground mountain bike trail loop, so it has been pretty beat up and is very dusty on the steep portions. Fortunately, M. and I got there early enough that we only met on pair of runners on the way in. From the lower lake, we scrambled up the granite cliffs to Upper Lola Montez Lake (above), then to come back down followed the remains of an old road and trail that are on the topo maps but have been abandoned for years. We took the opportunity to go cross country to the “Hole-in-Ground”, which is just an unremarkable little pond. Just south of the pond though is a high granite outcropping with great views. We ran into several groups of cyclists on the way back to the trailhead, or rather they almost ran into us….

Photo Album

Track and Profile

Directions: Take the Soda Springs exit from I-80, turn North and East onto the frontage road. The trailhead sign is on the north side of the frontage road, past the fire station. The trail to Lower Lola Montez Lake is well signed; it partly follows a private road.

The cross country route from the Lower to the Upper lake is marked by rock ducks and can be a little tricky to find. Follow the use trail around to the northwest corner of the lake. If you reach an open meadow next to the lake, you’ve gone too far around the lake. The ducked route starts near UTM 10 S 0721923 4358610 and heads away from the lake towards the granite cliffs. It’s a bit of a scramble at the beginning. In the upper reaches, there may be more than one marked “trail”. Just choose what looks most reasonable. We came out at about UTM 10 S 0721513 4358836. Our loop down followed trails that are marked on USGS maps but long since abandoned. From the road leading to the Upper Lola Montez Lake parking/trailhead, turn downhill at 10 S 0721307 4359051. In 2007, you could just make out that there used to be a road here. It ends in a meadow/marshy area with an intersection of some ATV use trails (which may be underwater). The old trail down a canyon back to the Hole-in-Ground trail starts at UTM 10 S 0722213 4359187.  Overgrown, but not hard to follow. The nice granite outcropping and overlook near the Hole-in-Ground pond is at 10 S 0722436 4359168.


9.27 mi (3.94 mi uphill, 3.97 mi downhill, 1.30 mi flat)
1350 ft total ascent – 14.0 % uphill grade, 43.6 % downhill grade
5:01:34 total time (4:29:37 moving, 0:31:57 stopped)
0:29:04 pace (2.1 mph average speed, 5.9 mph max speed)
15.4 difficulty, 27.6 effort