Robust mountains, striking slabs of granite, and deep green pine reflections make Shealor Lake near Kirkwood resort a jewel of the El Dorado National Forest. Reach this alpine oasis on a 2.6-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike (or overnight backpacking and camping trip). The trail starts with a moderate climb through the forest, but at the tree line it quickly opens up to a rocky plateau.
From the top of the ridge Shealor Lake can be spotted in the distance, its glistening water beckoning as you make your way down some switchbacks and follow large granite plates for a short scramble to the shoreline. The trail is pretty easy to discern, but a myriad of cairns left by fellow hikers clearly mark the path to the lake, which is enclosed by a ring of granite with tiny waterfalls flowing into it, thanks to high water levels this year. Take a swim and use giant granite slabs to sit on (or stargaze—there are several campsites to choose from around the lake).
BONUS CAMP: Shealor Lake has 6 official campsites that are first-come, first-served. You will need a permit for both gas stoves and campfires.
The trailhead is easily accessible off Hwy. 88 and has a large parking area, but no restrooms. Dog-friendly!