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

Short Backpacking Trips Map
VIEW FULL MAP
hiking
1 month ago

I did this trail November 25th 2018 started at lodgepole campground and when all the way up to Twin Lakes. I had always intended to make it a single day hike and by the time I got the Twin Lakes my legs were pretty pumped out so I didn't go up to the summit. Besides the root was covered in icy snow and I didn't have any crampons and didn't want to risk it.

I passed two sets of hikers coming down from Twin Lakes and one lady who passed me on the way up. by the time I got to Twin Lakes she had already visited probably ate her lunch and was on the way down. she was probably in her mid 20's and I'm twenty years older but in good shape for my age. it took me 3.5 hours to make it up.

because there is a 2in layer of fresh snow I could tell that nobody had attempted to go to the summit, at least not since thanksgiving day when it last snowed.

the views from the lake are beautiful but the tree line is high enough that you cannot see much of the surrounding territory. I agree with other reviewers that to get the best out of this hike you should try to scale at least part way up the summit wall.

the trail is very well-marked but as with all trails when snow covers the ground that's hard to follow. my Samsung Galaxy was able to hold a GPS signal the whole way and so alltrails was able to record my progress. I always find that very useful since it's easy to lose trails and the alltrails topo maps are great for finding your exact position at any given time using the GPS on your phone. course correction is a breeze that way.

Did a two-nighter out there a while back. Backpacked to one of the campsites a couple miles away from the hot springs and then hiked up to the springs the following day. Hot springs were nothing too impressive, but the hike up was really beautiful with just the right amount of elevation for a good workout.

backpacking
1 month ago

Did my first backpacking trip here. Excellent trail with great views and spots to stay at for the night. A couple of the spots, including by the lake, even have bear lockers, which was a nice touch. The campground by the lake also had a pit toilet. I went in mid-November and it was quite cold (low 20’s at night) so pack wisely.

hiking
2 months ago

Moderate climb up Hump trail to Heather Lake then on to Pear Lake. Very cool that there are pit toilets & bear lockers at the camp grounds if staying overnight. Aster Lake (not on the map) is gorgeous about 5.25 miles. Weather permitting, the Watchtower trail back is a must see! Total hike time from Wolverton parking to Pear Lake & back via Watchtower took us 6 hours.

Always enjoy this hike.

Great hike leading to the summit of the south sister and getting back via the Green lakes and part of the Broken top trail. We camped at the Green lakes and the sunset and sunrise on the lakes were wonderful. The view at the summit of the south sister is stunning!

Such an amazing hike. Beat the crowds at Yosemite and venture to the Ansel Adams Wilderness- you’ll be glad you did. While we initially set out to do Ediza as a 20 mile loop trail some complications and setbacks turned this into an out and back from Agnew Meadows, past Ediza, and onto Iceberg Lake. While Ediza is pretty, and almost swimmable, the real gem is the trek through the meadows en route to Iceberg. The scenery changes dramatically and you feel you’re hiking in the alps with little streams trickling down the mountain through flower filled meadows. Even in September there was still glacier remnants on Iceberg lake, since it’s over 9k ft. Pro tip: leave EARLY! They close the road to cars after 7:30 am so you’d have to take a shuttle. We got the last parking spot at Agnew Meadows campsite at 7:00 am.

backpacking
4 months ago

Absolutely stunning! This was one of the best backpacking trips of my life. Hiked in day 1 and spent two nights at the lake. On day 2 we hiked to the top of the pass and it was definitely worth it. We didn’t want to leave! We found a great secret place to camp in the area that’s was used as a quarry for the dam. Will be back!

Truly an amazing hike! The trail is well maintained, though gets a bit confusing while crossing the river near Ediza Lake — I found some stepping stones that did the trick. There was still some haze from the recent California wildfires, but from what I noticed it seems to blow through fairly quickly and isn’t too big of a deal. I started the hike around 7:45am and made it back to my car by 2:30pm. The views of the Minarets at Ediza Lake are breathtaking — I’m sure they’re even better earlier in the season when there is more snow. Bring a camera for this one!

hiking
4 months ago

We just got back from our trip to Twin Lakes area on Sunday. Was spectacular! Blue skies, very little smoke/haze, no mosquitos, and warm lakes. We camped one night at Twin Lakes, then two nights at Ranger Lake. Did one day hike to Lost Lake. We were in a spot on Ranger Lake that had beautiful 360 views of all the ranges in the area. My only advice to anyone that reads this is you HAVE to go past Twin Lakes over Silliman Pass or you are really missing out. It's a bit of a climb, but absolutely essential, in my opinion. Twin Lakes give you just a taste of the granite vistas that I feel are really part of the High Sierra experience. If you want more of that - keep going over to Ranger Lake and camp there instead. Wish we could have kept going and going. But alas it was only 3 days. I wish I could figure out how to attach images here!

backpacking
4 months ago

My hiking buddy and I did this loop in the clockwise direction over 4 days in late August, camping at Pinto Lake, Upper Big Five Lakes, and Columbine Lakes. Overall a challenging but rewarding experience!

Pros
- Scenery: the views from Black Rock Pass and Columbine Lake were 5 stars. The alpine territory of Big Five Lakes and Lost Canyon were also incredible. The rest of the hike was pretty, but not quite as memorable.
- Logistics and solitude: this hike has become a lot more popular (permit demand has doubled in the last year alone). Nevertheless, obtaining permits is relatively easy and trail congestion remains low. We passed by only ~12 hikers per day on the trails and felt like we had our campsites all to ourselves.
- Charm: one thing I liked about this loop is you revisit a lot of the same locations from different points of view. For example, you get to see Columbine Lake from far away, then up close and personal. Or walk up Black Rock Pass, then admire how much altitude you climbed from far away 2 days later!
- Easy to customize: there are many variations of this loop if you have extra time, such as a detour to Nine Lake Basin or going over different passes.

Cons
- Difficulty: this hike kicked my butt! Although it's only ~7-8 miles per day, in the clockwise direction the first two days involve a LOT of uphill. The last day involves scrambling up and sliding down Sawtooth Pass. The packs and altitude only add to the exhaustion. On the flip side, the hike generally gets easier with each day.
- Getting there: Mineral King is less accessible than some other parts of the Sierras, so you might need to add 1-2 days to your itinerary to account for travel time.

Advice
- I recommend doing this in the clockwise direction from Timber Gap if possible. The first day is a slog and while pretty, it doesn't live up to the next 3 days. In the clockwise direction, the views improve with every day!
- Trail is well marked with a few exceptions. 1) If you're planning on camping at Pinto Lake, know that the lake is not signposted nor visible from the trail if you're coming from Timber Gap (i.e. from downhill). We initially missed and passed by it. Keep track of your location on the map and be on the lookout for a marshy area with trees in an otherwise completely sun-exposed area. 2) The detour to Upper Big Five Lakes fizzles out at one point, but you can keep on going deep into the canyon off the trail. 3) When going from Upper Big Five Lakes to Lost Canyon, when you reach the last lake, you will need to cross the creek to the other side. The trail not clearly marked, stay close to the edge of the lake on the opposite and look out for cairns. 4) The trail between Columbine and Monarch Lakes is not well established. At the top near Sawtooth Pass, there are use trails in the decomposed granite, but the trail lower down near the lakes requires scrambling over rocks and some pathfinding.
- The NPS rangers will recommend against camping at Columbine Lake as there are few campsites and the area has been "abused" by hikers (e.g. leaving trash, illegally camping next to the lake, etc). The will instead advise hikers to camp in Upper Lost Canyon, where there are some sun-exposed sites near the switchbacks leading to Columbine Lake, or covered sites in the forested area before the switchbacks. We ended up camping at Columbine Lake unintentionally and it was incredible. If you do too, please respect the space!

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail worth going up to the ridge for the view from above.

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful lake, and definitely hike up to the pass and see the view!
The altitude was a bit tough for our group, had to stop and catch our breath a few times on the way up, but well worth the effort. The lake was pristine and we had a great swim after setting up camp.

The hike is amazing shadow lake is nice but it doesn’t compare to Ediza. The trail is flat for most of it just rocky parts of gravel and rock a some steep inclines. Once you get to Ediza u won’t be disappointed you get a beautiful view of mount Ritter and banner peak even tho for me there was smoke that day

This is a beautiful loop! We went clockwise and I would certainly recommend that direction; first day camping spots are better and scree skiing down Sawtooth is much better than trying to scramble up it from Monarch Lakes. I agree with others that noted the All Trails distances are off. Red numbers on map are more accurate than the All Trails lines and better match the trail signs. Rangers were still recommending marmot precautions as of 8/1/18. Trail crews did a good job of addressing the washout west of Pinto Lake and were actively fixing the one east of Pinto. Water was available pretty much throughout the loop. The only real tough patch was from Pinto to Little 5 Lakes. There's a stream at about 10,200 feet right before some switchbacks. Next water is 3+ miles away, over Big Rock Pass and down at Little 5 (the last lake is the cleanest). Mosquitoes were out around both Little and Big 5 Lakes but weren't really a problem. Caught trout all around the loop, but they were small and only good for the story. Nymphs seemed to be key. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!

We just finished the trip. It's about 6 miles of uphill hiking and .8 mi of downhill. The end view was worth the effort. Twin lakes was fantastic. It has the best outhouse views that I know of. There were 2 bear lockers so I'm not sure why the Rangers told us we needed bear cannisters. Definitely day hike up to the ridge on the way to ranger lake. The views from a top are awesome!

backpacking
5 months ago

Last two miles before Twin Lakes is difficult but well worth it.

5 months ago

Hiked it 8-4-18. It is a pretty hard hike, but the views are incredible! A steady climb all the way there but worth it. Took Us 4 hrs up an 3 down with taking alot of pics along the way. Flowers almost all the way up with plenty of deer to spot. Trail path is good, but watch ankles towards the top the rocks get rough. Next time we're spending the night to explore the lake more.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail with plenty of water. Last 1.5 miles tough but the lakes and views are awesome.

Hiked this today with two friends. Our total distance was 15.37 miles as we did a full circuit of Ediza lake, before retracing our steps to the trailhead. Beautiful area of lakes, rivers, waterfalls and all that hiking in the Sierras has to offer. Visibility was reduced a fair bit by smoke from a fire burning about 5 miles away.

hiking
6 months ago

The ridge has awesome views of the lakes. Bring plenty of water.

This was our second hike in the Mammoth Lakes area (Duck Lake was our first) and we were very happy we chose this for our 2nd day and we were more a bit more acclimatized to the altitude.

Highlight:
- This hike is one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL river-side hikes we’ve ever done. Really a STUNNING river all the way up with lots of changes in size, speed, falls, etc. I think this hike is all about the river - don’t get me wrong the lakes are beautiful too but the river is stunning!

Hike description:
- It starts flat and then downhill to Shadow Creek. Then the trail ascends up to Shadow Lake with beautiful switchbacks and little shade. Beautiful river and waterfalls. Shadow Lake is half-way point to Ediza and great spot for a stop and snack. Shadow Lake to Ediza includes beautiful river-side shaded trails and also another steep and exposed (but shorter) climb toward Ediza.
- Between the two switchback sections the trail meanders along-side the river in many covered areas with stunning wildflowers, green growth and shade. Beautiful hiking!
- At Ediza there are at least two options. The official bridge is washed out so 1) stay on the right side of Ediza and enjoy the lake from that side - you’ll need to stay on the trail on the right of the river - enjoy some light bouldering - and you’ll get there easily. We found a nice breeze (and few bugs) there so we really enjoyed it. Or 2) you can cross the river and hike to the left side of Ediza - we didn’t cross but looks like the most shallow crossing is about 0.25 down-river (backtrack) from the broken bridge along the river (which is off the main trail).
- We started at 8:30am and finished at 3:45pm (back to parking lot). About 13 miles in 7 hours at comfortable pace with many short stops and one longer lunch stop.

Other:
- The drive to the trailhead can be a bit confusing. Officially you can drive and park at the trailhead only before 7am (and after 7am you’re supposed to park at the Mammoth Adventure Center and take a shuttle to the trailhead). We drove in around 8am on a weekday and were able to find spots at the trailhead. It was a bit of a risk since the trailhead does fill up which would have meant driving back up to the Adventure Center and taking the shuttle (which would have cost us at least 30 extra minutes depending on the shuttle schedule). Obviously it was nice to have our car at the trailhead when we finished.
- We started at 8:30am and the mosquitoes were fierce all the way to Ediza. My partner wound up with 50+ bites. Highly recommend you wear LOOSE clothing (so bugs don’t bike through clothing) and lots of repellent.
- Due to the mosquitoes we didn’t find the hike as relaxing - we had to keep moving all the way to Ediza. Although that probably helped us keep a good pace, it would have been nice to be able to stop and enjoy here and there.

Overall a stunning hike! Highly recommended, especially if you get lucky with the season and don’t have to deal with the mosquitos.

Amazing, went last month. Still a lot of snow on the ground up by iceberg lake and we did not have crampons so we couldn’t make it to the other lakes past that. But iceberg lake was incredible. Mostly still frozen over at the time. Less mosquitos up there as well.

backpacking
6 months ago

The trail was very strenuous but easy to follow and well worth it. The views going up the trail and at the lake were amazing, and the Brook trout fishing in the main lake was excellent.

This is one of the most beautiful trails I’ve been on. It took us about 4 hours to reach Lake Ediza and 3 hours to get back . Don’t forget to carry a mosquito repellent .

Carry a rain jacket . Weather here can be unpredictable .

Lovely trail, too bad it burned. Hope to go back soon to see how the forest is recovering. We camped at Barlow Flats and it was perfect...

Spectacular. Went late June. Saw 12 people in four days (including a kind ranger). Did the loop counterclockwise, which is recommended unless you are otherwise itching to crawl/scramble/struggle up the skree of Sawtooth Pass. Camped Cliff Creek, Middle Lower Five Lakes, and Upper-Middle Lost Canyon. Mosquitos were out and about, but with the year’s lighter snowpack, we may have faced the worst of it. To be safe, bring ample Deet and invest in mosquito resistant clothing (including face netting). With some long stretches out of tree-cover, also bring ample sunscreen (though 3oz was more than enough for two of us).

If you’re young and/or in tip-top shape (and, more importantly, very prepared and carrying a light pack), you could do this in two days, though take caution with altitude sickness over some of these passes. Otherwise, take your time and enjoy this underappreciated escape.

Hard, but not overly painfully so. I have asthma and had to stop many times for air, but there was no need for a fast pace. Even with my slowness, we planned for four days but did it in there. Aside from normal backcountry gear, bring A LOT of sunscreen and zinc and GOOD mosquito repellant. Our GPS recorder logged significantly more miles than as posted on this and other trail sites. This map has the trail going in straight lines that do not exist. Expect closer to 35 miles maybe.

Day 1: Timber Gap Trail to Timber Gap. The trail is moderately steep out of the parking lot and continues so for some time. Reaching the top of Timber Gap has nice views with plenty of shade. Descend fast to the junction with Cliff Creek. This is the most psychologically challenging parts of the trip—to descend to below where you started and then have to climb for miles with a tall pass at the end of it. At the junction with Cliff Creek there is the most beautiful creek passing with several little pools. I wish it wouldn’t have been a waste to camp there, otherwise we would have. Have lunch. Walk along the creek and through the dry bed (which can be confusing—some cairns arranged; alternatively look for mule poop) as you pass epic waterfalls as you approach the switchbacks to climb to the Pinto Lake Area. At Pinto Lake, full water in stream that is clearly audible. Several campsites in front of and across the path from the bear box area. Choose a site on the rocks above the bear box—the breeze up there keeps the mosquitos away and the sunset is incredible.

Day 2: Fill your water. Then have fun figuring out how to get across the marsh and connect with the trail. Once you find it, begin the 3000 vertical feet in 3 miles to the top of Blackrock Pass. You’ll pass a steam going down the side of the mountain near the beginning of the climb up the switchbacks. Fill water here as it is the last water on this side and there won’t be mosquito free water for a bit on the other side. Then get ready—if you look straight up the mountain, slightly behind the stream, you can see the pass. It looks forever away. It sucked. I had to stop often (every 20-30 steps) to catch my breath. The grade is steep most of the way. But the views are the best views of the trip, as you see Columbine Lake and Spring Lake and the other lake across the valley. Take your time getting to the top and then enjoy the pass. The views are also quite good, as you look down on Little 5 lakes below. As you descend, turn around and look at the pass and you’ll understand why it’s called Blackrock—all of the rock to the right off the pass is sand colored. Get down, enjoy the view of the first couple of Little 5 lakes from above, but then put on your turbo boosters and get past them as fast as possible—horrible mosquitos. There is a creek draining from one of the lakes at the trail junction that takes you to the ranger station. Bugs were slightly less horrible there if you need water. Continue onto Big 5. You’ll hit a junction for Lower or Upper Big 5. Just know that if you choose Lower Big 5, you likely won’t come back to see Upper Big 5–there are quite a few switchbacks on the one mile trail to lower Big 5 and elevation to get back up to Upper Big 5 would suck. Lower Big 5 has some nice camping spots near the bear box and other spots across the lake on a small shoulder above where we were told there was a nice pond. AND YOU CAN HAVE FIRES HERE! Remember—no wood larger than you’re forearm.

Day 3: We had a leisurely morning of breakfast, a couple of swims, cards, and snacks. We slowly packed up, departed at 1230, and began the moderate climb to start, then mostly easy going hike to the end of Upper Lost Canyon. The creek and valley are absolutely stunning with Sawtooth and a couple other peaks in the background. We camped at a small, cleared area just a few switchbacks up the trail at the start of the climb to Columbine. We were directly next to one stream with another up the side of the mountain. Take your time along here—you’re in no rush and the valley is picturesque.

Day 4: after sleep, the hike up to Columbine from the base of the switchbacks wasn’t too bad—took maybe 45 minutes. The views are incredible; you can see the switchbacks up Blackrock Pass Trail. Contrary to what the rangers say, there are plenty of camping spots up there. When you reach the lake, follow the trail to the right, over the stream and you’ll find over a dozen great spots. The hike up to the pass is steep and challenging in sections, but the views are top notch and scree skiing down the mountain is so, so fun. Gaters and poles are a must for the descent. There isn’t really a trail for a while, so just choose a good skiing spot and keep your eyes open for the use trail toward the bottom on the way to monarch lake.

hiking
6 months ago

perfect trail conditions, wildflower in full bloom great moderate climb and 2 miles of pure bliss at the lakes

backpacking
6 months ago

My best friend and I did this trail mid June and camped at Pear Lake for an evening. Water abundant the higher you go. challenging and rewarding! The lakes are each really beautiful, but the view from pear was worth the climb up

Load More