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.
Very remote and terrain is rough if you are not in a high clearance rock crawler with aggressive tread. Rock gardens sharp rocks uneven terrain and narrow passes you are asking for body damage or blown tire - have a patch kit / spare / jack plenty of water if you have to hike out to eureka dunes or to the hot springs. At night ensure you have enough light 180 degree coverage to maneuver around obstacles and tons of desert critters. You have to try it - stock vehicles beware if you are a novice and don't know how to recover your rig. Tourists go in a group with guide and you will love the experience!
I took this to Second Lake. 2000+ elevation gain. Really balanced trail. Eclectic landscapes and trailscapes throughout. 2 miles in ..Check out the house that Lon Chaney built in the '20's....very cool! This is an absolutely gem of a hike. Unique turquoise colored lakes are gorgeous(due to the glacier silt). Temple Crag and Palisades Glacier...highly recommended.
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.
Saul M. on Big Pine Lakes Trail
great hike 2 hrs before sunset. park at the end of the road. follow the trail / Road till you come to a small Bridge which crosses big pine Creek. continue til you see the trail sign marked nf big pine Creek / sf big pine Creek. the North Fork. follow the switchbacks up the ridge until you come to the road. follow the road to the left and down the ridge until you get 2 a trail to the left. take this Trail back to the bridge. the lighting in the afternoon is magnificent!!!
From a photographers point of view, I found Mesquite sand dunes much more photogenic, I guess from a hiking point of view these might be cooler, definitely more of a challenge with the height of the dunes. The road there was worse then the road to the racetrack, even for my SUV. Not sure I would do again, going here will take a whole day, plan accordingly
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the oldest trees in the world, several over 4,000 years old. The drive from Big Pine is paved, twisty and dippy, and solitary. Take 168 out of Big Pine and then take a left on White Mountain road. Total mileage one way is about 23 miles. The visitor center at Schulman Grove at over 10,000 feet elevation is open in summer, with interperative programs, gifts, and information about the trees. Several self guided trails allow you to explore the forest. There is a nice short vista hike along White Mountain Road that gives you a pretty good 360 view of the surrounding high desert areas and down into Big Pine and Bishop. The trees are the stars as their twisty, gnarled trunks show the thousands of years of wear and tear they've survived. Takes about 2 hours RT if you get out and hike one of the Schulman Grove trails. There is a 4x4 road to Schulman out of Bishop, but not maintained and "iffy." Winter/spring of 2016 has been harsh on the road with lots of runoff. Although the dirt road is shorter, the paved road will be quicker and much less wear and tear. Check out this drive from Big Pine.
Didn't know what I was getting myself into with this one. Hiked 5 miles in 2 hours to the first lake of seven. Really physically challenging as there was packs of snow, ice and water to cross but totally doable with good hiking boots and layers. The cabin is awesome. Didn't continue to the remaining lakes because it started to snow a bit and the trail easily disappears deeper in. Overall, truly excited to hike this part of the JMT.
Kimmi H. on Big Pine Lakes Trail
Amazing! It snowed!