Big Pine Lakes Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Big Pine, CA that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
This trail was beautiful and rewarding! It was a bit confusing on some parts and I got lost twice! So definitely do your research. You take the North Fork the whole way there, the only confusion was how many junctions there are with no signs telling you which way to go. Once you reach the cabin you are halfway there. By time you reach 1st Lake, the others are close in proximity. This is an uphill hike the whole time with a lot of switchbacks, so plan ahead of time if you're a beginner. I did this trail in the winter so there was a lot of ice and a lot of snow, if you have trekking poles, I would bring them. I would rate this trail as moderate and perfect for a day hike, but also perfect scenery and spots for backpacking!
Once you get up past the first falls, it's not long until you see the stunning massif of the Temple Crag begin to rise over the ridge you're about to climb. It's a good climb, but once you get to Lake 1, the rest come along in short order. Definitely one of the busier trails you'll find, especially with guide companies that will pack up a big group to the lower lakes on horses for some glamping, but it's easy to find a slice of solitude with the amount of options for campsites around all of the lakes. The Temple Crag truly must be seen to be appreciated. The photos are beautiful, but the only response I could muster while standing in it's shadow was, 'Wow'. Also had fun watching a maniac who had climbed the thing descending in the dark by the light of their headlamp, a wonderful reminder that I will always be a little boy among men. We took a day hike, hoping to make it to the Palisade Glacier via the Sam Mack Meadow, but the loose scree and boulders on the way up forced us to turn around. Definitely do a little more research into the best route beforehand, freestyling like we did is not advisable (even with the help of some questionable, if well intentioned, cairns). As a tip, the trail quota was booked for Big Pine Lakes on our trip dates, but after speaking with a ranger, we were able to pull a permit for Baker Lake, and were told we were welcome to make camp anywhere in the general area accessible via the trailhead. Enjoy, and happy adventuring!
Beautiful hike along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek trail. The hike starts out steep with switchbacks and the first hour of the hike to first falls is entirely in the sun. After reaching the cabin however the trail meanders along the creek, in and out of aspen and pine forests. There are numerous opportunities to refill your water provided you have some type of filter. The views of the lakes are beautiful and 2nd Lake is the most beautiful where the granite meets the aquamarine water. I would rate this hike as moderate to difficult as it has several steep portions but is not rocky like the South Fork.
We hiked up to fifth lake and completed the loop past black lake and down. I don't recommend this hike for beginners or anyone who gets altitude sickness since some spots have a pretty steep elevation climb. The maps say the loop is 11.3 miles but Strava and Fitbit calculated the loop as 16 miles. After you cross the first bridge by first falls, you can cross over to the fire road (sign points to South Fork Trail) and use that to get up to the switchbacks. It will save your legs for the strenuous parts ahead. (Look on Google Earth for location of the road.) I'm glad we started on this route and caught the 2nd falls on the way back. If you decide to do the entire loop, start on the 1st Lake route and finish towards Black Lake. By the time you get to Black Lake, you'll be thankful for the downhill switchbacks rather than climbing up them. If you make it to 1st lake, keep going to 2nd lake since it's right around the corner. 3rd Lake to 4th lake is the hardest part of the trip and has the steepest climb. Once you make it to 4th lake, 5th lake is very easy walk and worth the jaunt off the main trail. Looking forward to going back in a couple of weeks to complete all 7 lakes.
Camped at lake 4 at just a little over 10,000 ft...so no camp fire allowed. It was in mid August. It gets pretty cold, but you get used to it. Was there for 4 nights. Hiked all the way to Lake 7 and to Sam Mack Meadows (A must see). One of my favorite experiences. Really beautiful. Perfect for star gazing.
Wildflowers, streams, and waterfalls!
Gorgeous weather. Camped near by
Amazing! It snowed!
Sooooooo gnarly! Just the coolest trail I've been on.
Went all the way to lake seven and then up rock slide mountain and onward to THE RIPPER!
Pretty dreamy situation up there for sure! YEWWWW!
We did a lot of backpacking trips last year and this area is by far my favorite. We camped at lake 1 right near the inlet of lake 2. There's a spot at the bottom of this hill that's perfect for accommodating 8 hikers. Absolutely amazing views. Cheers!
We were planning on only going on a short three mile hike but the waterfalls kept enticing us up and up until we decided to go all the way to first lake. We absolutely be back to explore the other lakes further
we hiked till the third lake. the weather was nice but felt feverish. could be the high altitude. the best thing about the hike was the colors of the lakes. brilliance. it was a great leg burner but not as hard as the bishop pass hike.
Camping at 3rd lake was a breathtaking experience. Seeing 1st lake was the most memorable of my life so far. Looking forward to experience all 7!
It's mostly a gradual climb of 4.5 miles to First Lake. Second Lake offers a great view of Temple Crag in the background. We hiked up to Fifth Lake. That's about a 14-miles round trip hike from 7800 ft to 10800 ft. Beautiful views along the way with wild flowers and sound of waterfalls in mid July. Did this day hike with an 11 yrs old. Saw a family with a 5 yr old and a 7 yr old on their way up to First Lake and having a great time. It's a bit crowded for a nice Saturday in the summer, but it's not difficult to find nice quiet spots to take in the vies. Be aware of afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Check the forecast first! A great hike!
A trail map can be found https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5195705.pdf.