Hamilton Lakes (High Sierra Trail) is a 28 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Three Rivers, CA that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and birding and is accessible from May until November.
A long 14 mile one way (28 round trip) hike to Hamilton Lakes on the High Sierra Trail. Prepare for scenic views from start to finish. The first 11 miles are relatively easy as elevation gain is slow. You descend downhill from 1.5 miles and climb up to the lake the last 1.5 miles. The trip to Hamilton Lakes is part of the High Sierra Trail. You will get a taste of the "high sierra" on your way to a beautiful pristine lake. The full trail is the 3rd most popularly hiked trail and for good reason. A pit toilet is located at Hamilton Lake to keep human wasted concentrated to one area. Camping is available too just below the lake. Prepare for a gorgeous hike with breath taking views. Bring enough memory cards for your camera!
There is not a moment where the views aren't amazing on this trail. Couple of things to note - the distance is actually 15.3 miles each way, at least according to the signs on the trail. The turnoff road to go to the Crescent Meadow parking lot had a ‘road closed to traffic’ sign, but the park staff let you drive through when you show them your Wilderness Permit (this way you don’t have to take the shuttle to the trail). The first mile or two was pretty bad in terms of bugs (gnats / mosquitoes?), but got much better later on. A head net came in very handy.
The trail after Bearpaw Meadow descends about 1.5 miles and then has a 2.4 mile climb up to Hamilton Lakes. This part is exposed a good amount, and if you have a fear of heights (like I do), things stay pretty spicy.
I have to say, the pit toilet at Hamilton Lakes has the best views in the world a toilet can offer. You’ll see. The creeks along the way still had a decent amount of water, so finding a source of water was not much of a problem. Overall, the trip took 7 hrs 10 mins going to the lakes, and about 7 hrs 30 coming back. Highly recommend this trail.
One of the best backpacking trails on the planet.
Great trail. Right off the ledge. Cool bridge you pass after high Sierra camp. Valhalla is amazing. Def worth staying out at Hamilton overnight if you can. The stars are insane. Would recommend precipice lake for a quick day hike too! Enjoy