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Barrett Lake Trail

On This Page: Trail Description, Trail Map and Work Done

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Barrett Lake

Trail Description


Barrett Lake Trail is a High Sierra Four Wheel Drive/Off Highway Vehicle rock crawling trail located in the Eldorado National Forest. The trail typically opens the last weekend of July and is only open for about two months, usually closing around mid October (these dates are typical from past experience). The determining factor on opening and closing the trail is how much mud and snow is on the trail. The Forest Service has ultimate control on opening and closing the trail.

Mod Rig


The trail is suggested only for the experienced four-wheeler with non-stock, lifted and modified rigs. The trail is limited to narrow short wheel based vehicles. Rating the trail on a 1 to 10 system this trail is a 9 to 10. The Barrett Lake Trail is a single path trail there is no bypassing the hard spots. The Gateposts at the Trailhead are 85 ¾ inches apart at the top flange and 86 ¼ below the flange and are used as a gauge; if your vehicle cannot fit between the gateposts it will not make it through the squeeze points on the trail, and again there are no bypasses.

GateThe Barrett Lake Trailhead is located at Dark Lake just north of Wrights Lake. The trail is a dead-end trail that is about 5 1/2 miles long from gate to Barrett Lake Campground. The average speed on this trail is 1½ to 2 miles per hour so you should plan on about four hours on the trail each way. The trail snakes through wooded areas, side hills, rock slabs and has a few creek crossings. The trail is an environmentally sensitive trail running on the border of Desolation Wilderness deviating from the established trail, driving onto Desolation Wilderness land or walking onto Desolation Wilderness without a permit has and will result in heavy forest service fines.

Camp Ground

The trail ends at the Barrett Lake Campground. The campground is a primitive campground with no conveniences.  You will need plenty of fresh water unless you plan to purify the lake water.  While at the campground please do not park or camp on the lake shore and please observe all posted boundary signs, please pack out all your trash when you leave.



Barrett LakeThe trail is often closed without notice due to inclement weather. The open/closed posting on this page reflect seasonal closure, not daily closure. It is suggested you contact Eldorado National Forest for current trail information. One of the contact numbers for the Eldorado Forest Service is (530) 644-2324. They are usually there from 8 am to 5 pm, weekdays. It’s a good idea to pick up an overnight or day-use wilderness permit at the Placerville Ranger District on your way up to the Crystal Basin and also check on fire permit requirements and restrictions.


Please help keep this sensitive trail open by observing tread lightly rules, Please don’t litter the trail, campground and any part of our forest. Remember if you packed it in you must pack it back out. Thank you and enjoy the trail.


Click here for a PDF map of the area (updated in 2019)
To take full use of the GIS data on this PDF map we suggest you use Avenza Maps.
Click here to learn more on the Avenza Maps web page.

Note; Barrett Lake Trail has been known by the following route numbers 11N26F, 16E21 & 12N77


Steps took to get the trail open

On July 30th, 2012 Judge Lawrence K. Karlton made a court order that closed Barrett Lake Trail until items cited in the order have been corrected. Over the years that have followed that court order the Eldorado National Forest and the Hi-Landers Four Wheel Drive Club have worked hard Pavingto address and correct those problems.

Here is a highlight of work done on the trail:
Fall of 2013 the bridge over Jones Creak was completed.
Summer/Fall 2014 Trails Unlimited constructed rolling dips in/around two Meadows, stream channels were stabilized, and stream approaches were constructed.

Work Party


The Hi-Landers have been maintaining the trail and conducting numerous work parties to support the bridge contractor, Trails Unlimited and the EDNF Forest Service.  The trail has been rerouted over the new bridge and the abandoned segments of the trail have been restored to nature.
The new trail needs to settle/hardened over the 2014/2015 winter.  The Forest Service has indicated with some final mop up work in spring 2015 the trail. The trail reopened late summer 2016.


Click here to see where the three meadows where work was preformed.
Click here to see original Court Order
Click here to see 2013 proposed action

(All files are in PDF format)




The trail is

This posting updated 9/28/2023

Note the forest service typically closes the trail on or just before the first snow fall.  Enjoy the trail if snow is forecasted call EDNF at 530-644-2324 or check back here we will update ASAP when info is available.


2015 News Releases

2015 Outstanding Trails

EDNFEDNF Barrett Trail News Release
July 23rd, 2015

Barrett Lake Trail bridge project over Jones Creek Is completed.

Click the bridge to go th the bridge page.


HL Logo


Links to some Barrett Lake Trail sites.
We have no control over these outside sites. Please report any inappropriate material to webmaster@hi-landers.com

Eldorado National Forest trail info
XJ Zone
UTV Guide.net

Here are some You Tube video links Try searching on key word "Barrett Lake" while at You Tube for a huge list of videos.

Here is a link to a Hiker’s youtube view of Barrett Lake Trail and Desolation wilderness filmed in early July 2015 just before the trail was reopened, it highlights the natural beauty of the area.  Be aware this video is 55 minutes long; he captured many stunning views of the area.  Note his comments are only his views without the knowledge of what was mandated to reopen this Crown Jewel of OHV trails.

Barrett Lake 8-23-2008
Barrett lake trail 1.
Barrett lake trail 2.
Barrett lake on Aug 12 2006
Barrett Lake
Rhino on the Barrett Lake Trail
2nd Rock Garden at Barrett Lake
Barrett lake "slabs"
Barrett Lake pt.1
Barrett Lake at Night





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