If you're going to "Do" Downieville, get a ride to the top. Yuba Expeditions offer daily shuttles and have the demo bikes and supplies you'll need.
The 5 Lakes Trail is a moderate hike with the perfect summer afternoon reward – a jump in a lake! About 5 miles round trip, this is a popular trail that winds around to five small alpine lakes. We hiked it in early August, and temperatures were perfect for both the hike and dipping our toes when we stopped at the lakes for lunch.
The trail climbs steadily for about 1.5 miles at the start of the hike, and there is not a lot of shade. Bring plenty of water, and wear sunscreen.
Getting there: The trailhead is located on Alpine Meadows Road in Olympic Valley, at the intersection with Deer Park Drive – approximately 2 miles from Hwy 89. Park on the side of the road (unless indicated), taking care not to impede traffic.