The Hilton Lakes trail starts and ends at just over 9,800 feet, and there is only 750 feet of total climbing over 6 miles. The only steep part is the 500 foot drop in one mile from the high point (10,380) to Hilton Lake 2 (9,850).
The Rock Creek Pack station is located near the beginning of the trail. It provides wilderness pack trips and day rides by reservation.
The trailhead parking is about 100 yards up the road from the signed trailhead. The trail climbs about 150 feet and then contours for nearly 3 miles mostly along the rim of the Rock Creek Canyon, with gradual ups and downs and many flat sections. There are great views in the morning back to the granite crest of the Sierras with 4 peaks over 13,400 feet. In the afternoon, the sun shines across Rock Creek Canyon to the forested slopes that lead up to Wheeler Ridge and the mineral rich, multicolored ridge that leads to Mt. Morgan.
At 1.3 miles, we reach a junction with a trail that climbs up directly from the Pines Creek Campground. Starting from this trailhead saves about 3/4th of a mile, but it adds about 400 feet of climbing. At 3 miles, the trail begins a moderate climb to a low ridge (10,380) and then it drops fairly steeply down towards Hilton Lake 2. At 4.5 miles it passes the signed junction with the trail that leads to Lakes 3 and 4 and the upper Hilton Lakes.
When you get down to the level of Hilton Lake 2 and pass fairly near the lake, there is a trail-of-use- that leads directly to the lake. A little farther on we reach a trail junction. The left trail is the Davis Lake Spur
which goes to the end of the peninsula between the two lobes of Davis Lake. A trail of use branches off it to the outlet of Hilton Lake 2 and along the northern shore of the lake.
From the junction, the trail straight ahead is the Hilton Creek Trail
, which passes along the eastern shore of Davis Lake and then follows Hilton Creek, first through a gently sloped, forested canyon and then out descends high desert land all the way to a trailhead just above US 395 near the small town of Crawley Lake.