37 miles from Georgetown. Easy/moderate options. MAP
Loon Lake was once two separate lakes until the desire for more power and water inspired dams and dykes to be built causing a larger reservoir. First it was the California Water Co. in 1874 who used Chinese labor to build a dam and ditch system to bring water to G.T. Then S.M.U.D. built a larger dam and power house together with a campground facility in the 1960’s.
Today the lake offers a trail from the campground near the boat ramp to a campground at the east end 6 miles away. This trail also continues into Desolation Wilderness. Another trail goes south across the South Fork Rubicon canyon to access the Van Vleck area.
Directions: Drive east on Wentworth Springs Road until it dead ends at Ice House Road in 30 miles. Go left a few miles and watch for the Right turnoff to Loon Lake. Go 5 miles and park near the boat ramp.
The main trail follows the southern side of the lake from a sign kiosk near the middle of the campground. This trail stays back from the shoreline and is well traveled and difficult to lose. Pleasant Campground is marked by a small wooden sign in about 6 miles or you can continue on to Spider Lake, Lake Winefred, and/or Desolation Wilderness (overnight permit required).
The trail to Van Vleck is found from the equestrian staging area near but south of the boat ramp. This trail descends to cross the South Fork of the Rubicon River (more like a creek here), then climbs up to the hub of trails available from the other side of the canyon. It is possible to make a multi-day trip loop using both trails.