26E212 - Red Lake Trail

Shaver Lake, California (Fresno County)

Last Updated: 06/18/2022
4.9 / 5 ( 19 reviews )
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Highlight: 26E212 - Red Lake Trail
A high mountain lake hidden at the end of this rock crawling 4x4 trail makes for a killer end-of-trail reward and an even better camping location. Rock gardens, dense forest, a few short stretches of easy trail and, of course, Red Lake, make up Red Lake Trail. This is one of many 4x4 trails in the Red Mountain OHV network in the Sierra National Forest, northeast of Shaver Lake and Southeast of Huntington Lake. Red Lake Trail is one of the "easier" trails in this area, when compared to Mirror Lake Trail and Coyote Lake Trail , but do not underestimate Red Lake. While easier, it is not "easy", and still a challenge to reach the Lake at the end.


Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Lightly Modified 4X4 (Small Lift and Larger Tires)
This is a rock trail. Rock sliders and under armor are recomended.

Technical Rating

Rocky or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 24" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 24" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 54" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.
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Community Consensus

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Red Lake Trail is open 06/15-11/01 each year, but this is subject to extended closures / delayed openings. Forest Service Trail Status An easy start from Sand Flats quickly changes at Waypoint 3 when you reach the Gate Keeper. While you can find a line to bypass the worst of the Gate Keeper obstacles, don't; this is a good indicator of what's to come as rock garden, after rock garden, after rock garden will keep you working to complete this trail. Yes, there are easy stretches on this trail, and yes, this is the "easier" of the hard trails here, but tire placement is still critical to avoid bends, breaks or hang ups.


1. Sand Flats / Red Lake Trailhead (0 mi)
Start here, at the east end of Sand Flats. Stay to the right at the sign boards. Sand Flats includes a few campsites, a vault toilet, and open sandy areas around the trees.
2. Tight Rocky Section (0.2 mi)
Continue straight to maneuver your way over these few rocks. The rocks alone here wouldn't typically be worth a waypoint, but the tree on the opposite side of the trail might catch the roof of a leaning rig.
3. Gate Keeper (0.34 mi)
Continue straight through the Gate Keeper. This obstacle is a good example of what you're to come across on this trail. If you have trouble here, you may want to turn back before you get deeper in.
4. Thick Forest (0.6 mi)
Squeeze your way down the trail through this densely wooded section.
5. Easy Rocks (0.88 mi)
Continue straight. This is typical of the easier sections of this trail.
6. Rock Garden (1.1 mi)
Here's a Rock Garden. Get used to them. More are coming up.
7. Big Rock Option (1.15 mi)
Continue straight over this optional rock obstacle, or bypass it to the side.
8. Rock Garden (1.19 mi)
Remember Waypoint 6? We told you so. Here is another Rock Garden.
9. Slabs (1.29 mi)
An easy obstacle, but a unique sight, continue straight over the Slabs.
10. Uphill Rock Garden (1.4 mi)
Continue straight. We warned you at Waypoint 6. We reminded you at Waypoint 8. Now, here's another Rock Garden. This one might be the most challenging part of the trail. This uphill rock garden is long and curves around ( or over ) some sizable boulders.
11. Tight Rock Spot (1.62 mi)
Slow down and squeeze through the rocks on each side of the trail here.
12. Another Rock Garden (1.94 mi)
Continue straight. We explained this already. This trail is full of Rock Gardens. Get through this one and watch for the lake, up on your right.
13. Red Lake (2.03 mi)
Continue straight or stop to swim, fish and/or camp here at the lake; Red Lake. Camping is allowed along the side of the trail opposite the water.
14. End / Coyote Lake Trail Gate Keeper (2.4 mi)
Red Lake Trail ends here. If you're ready for more, continue up Coyote Lake Trail . If you've had enough, your options are to head back the way you came in or set up camp.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Fresno, California

Take 168 east toward Huntington Lake for about 12 miles. Continue onto CA-168 / Tollhouse Road for about 21 miles. Turn left to stay on CA-168 for another 28.4 miles. Turn right on 8S10 ( Watch for the Red Mountain Trailhead sign.) After 3.25 miles, turn left on 8S42. Follow 8S42 for 3.5 miles to the trailhead at Sand Flats.


You will find dispersed camping at both ends of this trail; Sand Flats and West Lake at the west end and Red Lake at the east end. Sand Flats includes a few sites with metal fire rings and bear boxes. There is a pit toilet at Sand Flats (see Waypoint 1). Red Lake includes multiple sites with fire rings and two pit toilets.
Camping: 26E212 - Red Lake Trail

Land Use Issues

Seasonal Closures. Scheduled open time is 06/15-11/01, but subject to extended closures / delayed openings. High Sierra Ranger District 29688 Auberry Road Prather, CA 93651 (559) 855-5355 Forest Service Trail Status Motor Vehicle Use Map / MVUM

Trail Reviews (19)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: Do you think a stock FJ Cruiser would have any trouble making this Red Lake trail?
–Phillip Farris (07/03/2018)
A: That depends on driver experience. If you have not run any rock trails before, this is not the best one to start with. Maybe try Bald Mountain first. If you have plenty of experience and a tough set of rock sliders, you should do fine.
–G. Martin (07/05/2018)

Writer Information

G. Martin

Mapping Crew - California

G. Martin, gm4x4 on Youtube , is a California native, born and raised in northern California and now living and wheeling in southern California. He enjoys exploring new trails and setting up camp in the remote outdoors. You may come across him in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the mountains of Big Bear, in the central Sierras near Shaver Lake or any other dirty, rocky road in the southwest.
For individual use only, not to be shared.