Jennie Lakes Trail is a 17.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Springville, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.
Jennie Lake sits within 4 miles of the wilderness boundary. Depending on how much time one has, there are two ways to get to Jennie Lakes. The trailhead in Big Meadows parking area or the trailhead in Fox Meadow. Starting at Big Meadows will add about 1.5 miles and Fox Meadow only adds about 0.75. Jennie Lake is a pretty Sierra Nevada subalpine lake. It is not the prettiest such lake, but it is pretty, and cool on a warm summer day, and relatively easy to get to, and there are no backpacker quota restrictions. This makes it a good place to go without much advance planning as well as a popular destination - it is not a hike for solitude. The easiest way to reach Jennie Lake is from the Fox Meadow trailhead, reachable via an unsigned dirt road (Forest Service Road 14S16) that is drivable (slowly) for passenger cars. Other trailheads can be found at the Big Meadows trailhead, on paved Forest Service Road 14S11, or at Stony Creek Campground, just off the Generals' Highway. The Big Meadows trailhead adds about 1.5 miles and 500 feet of elevation gain to the hike described here; the route from Stony Creek has almost 1000' of extra elevation gain compared to this route. From Fox Meadow, the well-graded trail winds through the forest on the west slope of Shell Mountain and meets up with a junction where you choose between Weaver and Jennie Lakes; shortly after this you enter the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. The trail continues ascending through the forest before curving around to the more open southern slope of Shell Mountain. From here the trail continues its gentle ascent towards misnamed Poop Out Pass, which is so gradual and gentle you don't really notice you've gone over the pass until you start dropping. A descent on an open stony hillside followed by a return to the forest and soon enough you are at Jennie Lake. Campsites are most plentiful along the north and west sides of the lake. You can also return the way you came.
Beautiful but not "easy." Be weary of slippery spots and steep inclines.
The trail is rated as easy but far from it! The hiking book I have rated it as a 3 out of 10 on difficulty. If that was a 3, I would hate to find out what a 10 is. 6 miles felt more like 9-10. On the bright side, the scenery was nice with some great views. The lake was beautiful but crowded. If your up for a challenge, this is a good one. It will test your stamina on the uphill and your feet on downhill.