Explore inyo national forest - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Gorgeous views especially in fall with all the colors.
Great easy hike for dogs

Complete 10-19-18. Most challenging and rewarding hike I’ve ever done.

We started at 430am, summited 11 hours later at 330pm, sat up there for 30 min, headed back down at 4pm & got back to the car at 1030pm so it was an awesome 18 hour day on trail.

It was definitely hard to breath once we got to about 10k ft. Luckily neither of us got altitude sickness or vertigo. We were glad we had micro spikes for the descent. Wear as many pairs of gloves you can fit and the warmest ones you can find. Only thing I wish I’d brought was a buff or any other kind of face covering.

Brought 3 liters of water & a filtration system. Only drank 2 liters, never checked to see if my sawyer squeeze froze but I heard other people’s systems did. Mostly brought proteins to eat, wish I’d brought more carbs.

Check out www.whitneyzone.com before you go!

Completed in one day on the 19th. We started at 3am. There were no online reservations available for camping at Whitney Portal but we drove up anyways to see. There were plenty of walk in sites available as well as one-night only camping next to the overnight parking which was perfect. Make sure you bring tags for anything you leave in the bear boxes.

Hiking in the dark on the trail was incredibly easy and fun. You look up and see a line of headlights but can’t see anything else. It’s nice to not be able to see the elevation you have to climb up and made it go by quicker but at the same time I know we were missing the beautiful scenery.

Once we hit trail camp, it got COLD. Like the other posts, our camelback straws froze and so did our filtration system so we were very appreciate of the people that lent us their help. We kept one straw in our jackets to keep it warm and switched straws out when the other froze. We used micro spikes on the way up and down when there was snow. It made us feel comfortable and it I didn’t have them, we would have turned around. In fact, we passed multiple people who turned around because they didn’t have micro spikes but we all may be just a novice group of hikers.

The last 2 miles were the hardest. It took us 3 hours due to putting on and taking off microspikes and scrambling up parts of the trail.

Overall, a great hike! Completely doable, you just need to be prepared for the worst and want it enough.

Completed same day on October 17th. Started at 0315 Took 11.5 hours. Great conditions - no winds the entire time. Incredibly cold in early morning while dark - camelbak froze many times. Required lots of layers. Once the sun same out a t-shirt was fine. Snow / ice at top of switchbacks and to summit. We wore microspikes down but wasn’t needed on way up. Could have been done entirely without spikes. Long day but rewarding.

Easy with awesome views

Our pup loved this trail. Fun photo opp as well

Easy and fun hike that provides ample fall colors! The further you hike, the prettier it gets! Make sure to bring enough water and a headlamp if you plan on doing the whole hike!

hiking
2 days ago

Although the path itself is not very pretty, you will get an epic view of Mount Conness and North Peak. Highly recommend for a day long stroll. Bring supplies for a picnic and lots of sunscreen!

hiking
5 days ago

Like others have mentioned, the beginning of this hike is a little steep, but isn’t too bad. I haven’t hiked in a year and was able to hike the incline in the beginning just fine while carrying my newborn in the baby carrier. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the lake. In my opinion the Mountain View and the creek that you hike along are much more beautiful than the lake itself. With that being said, the lake does look pretty good during sunset.

We did this hike in early September as part of our trip to the pass. All of the lakes offer nice shade, pretty views and peaceful surroundings! I highly recommend continuing to Kearsarge Pass after taking a snack break at this lake!
We didnt run into too many bugs, but I imagine mosquitos can be bad at certain times of year, or even day. There was sporadic shade on the way up but nice trees offering quality shade around all the lakes.

Just spent the weekend on this trail. Fishing was amazing at the Kearsage Lakes! Hiking in from onion valley was rough but a huge accomplishment when we reached the top of the pass. The decent into the Kearsage Lakes from the pass is very fast. When we packed out it only took us 3 hours because most of this 11 miles is down hill on the onion valley side. This was my first time backpacking in the Seirras and coming from the east coast this trip was a real eye opener. I would recommend this trail to anyone that thinks they can tough it out. Weather is getting a bit cold this time of year now. Low’s were in the teens at night and there was some snow at about 10,000 feet.

My fiancé and I went yesterday! It was absolutely breathtaking! We also brought our 3 month old daughter with us in a baby carrier so the hike was a little bit difficult but definitely worth it! Started the hike around 1100 and ended up at the lake around 230 ish and took us a little less the 3 hours to get back down. Beyond beautiful!

One of my favorite hikes!

I really enjoyed this hike! Offered a decent level of physical challenge, while also affording some better than average scenery! Very easily found the trail head and experienced no difficulty to Valentine Lake. Do be warned though, those with less-than a decent level of fitness may struggle to cope with the elevation and elevation gain

Very well maintained trail, breathtaking fall colors!

Great trail

Challenging but worth it, went further up to Mirror Lake though

Beautiful views and well worth the climb. Lakes are beautiful, and what you see in the pictures is what you see in real life. I want to go back and hike to the glacier one day.

Speechless. Exactly how it left us. Big Pine Lakes is absolutely breathtaking. By far one of the most beautiful places we’ve hiked. The trail is rated moderate but I will be honest when I say that this trail is more on the difficult end. Just my opinion. The hike is mostly incline and over 5-6 miles to the first lake. Completely worth it though. Very doable and many stop areas along the way. We saw deer and the fall leaves. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. We only went to lake two and it took us a total of 6hrs. We also stopped and took pictures in many places so that’s why it took a bit longer.

Two stars due to all the horse crap. People with dogs are expected to clean up after, why not the trail horses and mules. I was raised with horses and poo is poo.

backpacking
9 days ago

Really nice

Did this hike on October 6 2018. It snowed before, during, and after. We lucked out and got clear skys at the summit. Summited around 11:00am passed tons of people that turned around because it was too sketchy as it was icy and cold. I didn't have spikes or crampons so was super bummed as I didn't think I had a prayer to make it. The trail was icy and slippery but it wasn't like you were going to fall to your death if you slipped and fell. It was easy to spot the icy areas and I just used the trekking poles and took my time.

Loved this trail! There is a bit of an incline in the beginning, but after that it is smooth sailing. Be advised there are no bear lockers at the trailhead (though we were told it wasn’t a problem during the day). This time of year was especially pretty with the changing leaves. Would have loved to stay longer! Next time we will pack a picnic.

We loved this trail! Great for a hot day. There are clear cold lakes to jump in every half mile or so. There were a lot of people but everyone was very friendly and didn’t even make comments about my dog off leash. My pup is very friendly but she is a pit bull so many people make incorrect assumptions about her. We all had a great day. I was wishing I had brought sleeping gear. I wanted to keep going and going!

Beautiful Terrain and crystal clear water. Loved every minute.

Love this hike, make sure you do your homework and are prepared for staying overnight if worst comes to worst with weather moving in too quick.

Day hike to Kearsarge Lakes after three inches of fresh overnight pow. The trail is super gradual and easy on the knees as you climb to Kearsarge Pass (compared to other high elevation trails in California). Don’t stop at the pass! Descend to the lakes and be treated to the reflection of the mountains towering above you. Definitely in my top three favorite hikes.

hiking
13 days ago

A wonder-filled hike with a little bit of everything: 5 lakes in the loop, waterfalls and streams, enough elevation gain to make it challenging and even more interesting, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy. This hike is easily one of my favorites, great for a day or a week. Did it a month ago and had to make sure I reviewed it.

backpacking
13 days ago

This was a great hike- planned on two nights but a snow system was a little heavier than we planned for so called it and headed back down.

Very few people on the trail on Friday- no more than a half a dozen going up and down the entire time. Saturday was a little heavier, but not a problem overall. Co-hiker was not ready for much more than Lake 1, but looking forward to the full loop and Palisade next time.

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