Explore the most popular camping trails in Ansel Adams Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
1 month ago

My wife and I did this trail as an overnight backpacking trip on 9/16/18. We were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary and we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location.

Rather than doing this as an out-and-back, we decided to do it as a loop. We began on the High Trail (PCT) from the Agnew Meadows Trailhead toward Thousand Island Lake. At about the three mile mark you get a spectacular view of the Minarets, Mt. Ritter, and Banner Peak looming over Shadow Lake. Eventually, about eight miles in, you reach Thousand Island Lake. As you may have guessed, this lake is very unique because it has a ton of islands. The lake is at the base of Banner Peak, making this a very scenic location to set up camp. In the morning, we set off southbound on the JMT. Two miles later we reached Garnet Lake, which provided amazing views of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter. We continued another four miles to Shadow Lake, with the last half mile paralleling a beautiful creek with numerous waterfalls. When you reach the east end of Shadow Lake, you can look back across the lake to the west for an awesome view of the Minarets and Mt. Ritter. Then it’s a steep, rocky descent through the gorge along the Shadow Creek Trail. When you reach the bottom, it’s an easy couple miles and a final uphill push back to the Agnew Meadows Trailhead.

I recorded my loop at 18.7 miles with 3,406 feet of elevation gain. It ended up being just a couple miles longer than the out-and-back to Thousand Island Lake, but with twice as many spectacular views. I couldn’t imagine missing out on everything we experienced on the back half! It was challenging, but well worth it.

Mid-September turned out to be a great time to go. It wasn’t very busy, the weather was great, there were no bugs, and the colors of autumn were starting to appear. It did get pretty cold at night, but it was a small price to pay given the other huge upsides.

Overall, this was my favorite hike so far and definitely the most scenic. I would highly recommend trying it!

You can download my recording if you decide to try the Thousand Island, Garnet, and Shadow Lakes Loop Trail instead of just the out-and-back trail to Thousand Island Lake. It will make navigating a lot easier!

Happy hiking!

Always enjoy this hike.

The Hike up to Gem Lake is a constant uphill, but well maintained trail. Lots of day hikers and people entering the high country. Agnew lake and Gem Lake are impressive, but unfortunately, they just have a reservoir feel. However, getting a glimpse of the entire hydroelectric works with old buildings, railtracks and old style reservoir buttress style dam is a throw back to a bygone era and fascinating when all taken together. At Agnew Lake we got a glimpse of the way down from the Spooky Meadows trail and it was impressive to get an idea of what we were instore for.

Our goal was to keep our camp two nights at Clark Lakes and day hike a loop up to thousand Island Lake. Clark Lakes are very picturesque, multiple places to set up camp, but most are close to the trail. Due to the late date in the season we encountered absolutely no mosquitoes, I am sure that in July there must have been alot, as the lakes are shallow with still water in many places.

The hike to Thousand Island lake from Clark Lakes is fantastic, each vista and view is better then the next with Banner Peak and Mt Ritter as the backdrop. At the junction with the JMT you encounter lots of people, up until then, from Gem lake to Clark Lakes to Thousand Island we had seen just about no one. However this section of the JMT is really stunning. we went south from Thousand Island to Garnet Lake and the trail was well maintained and just a joy to take in and hike.

At Garnet lake across the bridge ( once again a congregation spots for many hikers) we went east and down the trail next to the outlet falls to hook up with the river trail along the San Joaquin River. This little tail is poorly marked and poorly maintained, a fun pleasant scramble, but we left scratching our heads wondering if we were on the correct trail. However once on the river trail going north we were amazed. The river trail is really just a very sweet trail with great canyon wall views to the left as you ascend back up to the PCT.

Back at Clark lake we were able to find a great spot to enjoy the sierra sunset and get tremendous views just a 5 minute walk from our camp. we could see the orange glow off the mountains in Yosemite towards Mono Pass or east towards Banner peak.

The next day was the trip down, going through Spooky Meadows. Any place called Spooky Meadows just can't be passed up. The trail towards Spooky Meadows is a gentle upward climb with views and scenery that just keeps getting better and better. Mono lake occasionally comes into view, you hike through bristle cone forests go along the delightful Sullivan Lake. Then starts the climb down, down, down. The trail is very steep,but if you take your time quite is manageable with stunning views. We loved every minute of the hike back down to Agnew Lake, but were happy to make the decision to hike down this trail and not up it. The hike up would have been brutal with a full pack. Spooky Meadow trail has become one of my favorites and I already wish I had spent more time hanging out and explore Spooky Meadows. One of the pleasant things about this trail is to have a typical Eastern Sierra stream running along the trail with wildflowers and the scents of wild oregano and sage waif up through the air. We did not encounter any other people on the Spooky Meadow trail. It is hard to get to, but should be on your list of trails to hike.

We encountered light rains in the afternoon, and clear star filled nights with very little wind. We probably had the clearest air of the summer and the smoke from the recent fires had all cleared out.

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.

Excellent trail

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!

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

nice

hiking
2 months ago

I hiked from Red Meadows to Horseshoe lake and enjoyed good views at the outset. Was glad to have plenty of water with me as the hike is quite exposed for most of the way. Super quiet which I love - and I enjoyed the almost constant ascent. Do it the other way around if you’re more into downhill!

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.

We hiked the high trail to Thousand Island Lake then took the River trail back to the Agnew Meadows trail head. We were struck by the amazing beauty as we hiked for miles through blooming foliage and plenty of birds singing along the way. 10/10 would recommend.

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.

Melanie is right. It was hot.

But it wasn't hard. Because I went FROM Horseshoe Lake (via McLeod) TO Red's Meadow (via Rainbow Falls). After McLeod, it was either flat, or all downhill, which provided spectacular views of Red's Meadow because of the previous fire that cleared out a lot of old growth. Too bad about the fire. But I do like my photos.

Then took the bus from Red's Meadow to Main Lodge ($8! TIP: Tell the driver you are exiting before the Monument exit and you don't have to pay to board. Then linger on the bus and exit where you want.) the Tram to the Village, and Uber to Horseshoe Lake to get the car. All in time to get pie at East Side Bake Shop before 3pm.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

We started from rainbow falls and took the pass over to Horseshoe Lake. It was mostly uphill and hot as it was in unshaded areas because of the fire that affected the area years ago resulting in there being smaller trees. The trail would probably be better taken as shown here from Horseshoe Lake to Rainbow falls as it would be less uphill and more downhill.

incredible, however, you have to like climbing. I went via Clark Lakes going and around Gem lakes returning. the Clark Lake route is VERY steep,, the trails join before you get to 1000 islands lake. TONS of mosquitoes, be prepared, they are very hungry. Enjoy, headed to the blood bank to replenish.

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.

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 .

Get your permit for the trailhead and at the ranger office per wilderness area They do want to know your loosely projected itinerary, but you're not held to it. If you are starting on the east side, get one from an Inyo ranger station, even if you plan to cross into Yosemite. If starting in Tuolumne, get a Yosemite permit, etc. I did the Minaret Creek, Ediza, Garnet, Thousand Island loop from Silver Lake with side trips to Davis Lakes, Alger Lakes, Koip Peak, Lake Catherine, Nydiver. Phenomenal.

FANTASTIC trail. Rating is accurate at difficult. Would recommend for backpackers to leave early in the morning because there are countless breathtaking panoramics of the Minarets and mountain range around each corner, so taking your time to stop and appreciate it was really something that I'm glad we did. The total hike time was over 6 hours, with a heavy backpack, and we actually had to camp about .5 mile from Thousand Island due to a late start, it getting dark, and being EXHAUSTED! Would have been much quicker without the backpack full and ready for a weekend of camping with a heavy tent. We passed a handful of people doing this trail as a day trail who were making great time if that's the route you're hoping to go. Again, would recommend to leave early even then! Luckily summer days are long and offer sunlight until late in the evening.
There is a parking lot at the trailhead with Agnew Meadows Campsite just up the road. You can also reach the trail head via shuttle ($9 round-trip) and walk a bit. I would recommend to drive your car down to save time and money. The line for the shuttle was long, the shuttle was crowded, and we were itching to get started much sooner than the shuttle allowed us to.
There is a bathroom at the trailhead. The High Trail via the PCT almost immediately starts at an incline, and then is primarily uphill for majority of the trail. There is a long, open (Sunny) stretch that is relatively flat, and about .5 mile that is slightly downhill, but that meant heading back uphill. Two sets of switchbacks. Both are a short distance, one near the beginning and the other almost at the end.
This was difficult but very rewarding. One of the prettiest trails with everything still in bloom. A lot of butterflies, and A LOT of mosquitos. Treat your clothes, take deet and a bug net. Even with deet and a bug net we were still eaten alive and spent most of our time in the tent. There was a bit of wind at the lake itself which meant relief from the mosquitos which was very welcome. Lots of fish jumping, and other travelers fishing!
Again, tough trail, but very worth it! Met a lot of nice PCTers. You definitely earn your views!

backpacking
3 months ago

FANTASTIC trail. Rating is accurate at difficult. Would recommend for backpackers to leave early in the morning because there are countless breathtaking panoramics of the Minarets and mountain range around each corner, so taking your time to stop and appreciate it was really something that I'm glad we did. The total hike time was over 6 hours, with a heavy backpack, and we actually had to camp about .5 mile from Thousand Island due to a late start, it getting dark, and being EXHAUSTED!
There is a parking lot at the trailhead with Agnew Meadows Campsite just up the road. You can also reach the trail head via shuttle ($9 round-trip) and walk a bit. I would recommend to drive your car down to save time and money. The line for the shuttle was long, the shuttle was crowded, and we were itching to get started much sooner than the shuttle allowed us to.
There is a bathroom at the trailhead. The High Trail via the PCT almost immediately starts at an incline, and then is primarily uphill for majority of the trail. There is a long, open (Sunny) stretch that is relatively flat, and about .5 mile that is slightly downhill, but that meant heading back uphill. Two sets of switchbacks. Both are a short distance, one near the beginning and the other almost at the end.
This was difficult but very rewarding. One of the prettiest trails with everything still in bloom. A lot of butterflies, and A LOT of mosquitos. Treat your clothes, take deet and a bug net. Even with deet and a bug net we were still eaten alive and spent most of our time in the tent. There was a bit of wind at the lake itself which meant relief from the mosquitos which was very welcome. Lots of fish jumping, and other travelers fishing!
Again, tough trail, but very worth it! Met a lot of nice PCTers. You definitely earn your views!

We did this as a backpacking trip on July 7, 2017 as a three day hike. We picked up permits at the USFS Mt Whitney ranger station - they have walk in permits reserved starting at 11am. The permit is for Rush Creek trail at Agnew lake specifically. Parked at the rush creek trail head at Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop. The first few miles are the most climbing of the trip if you go counter clockwise. We spent the night at Gem lake and took a nice dip in the water and spotted a bald eagle fishing right in front of us. It was great to be able to bring the dog. Bear canister required. (Or may counterbalance). Second day went around Gem lake, we actually turned up to Waugh lake which adds more mileage and climbing but we loved the view. Mosquitos and flies were CRAZY. Almost unbearable when walking by water- which you do a lot. Would recommend 100% deet and mosquito netting and sleeves. Full coverage. Spent night #2 at Thousand island lake and swam in the water. Last day went back PCT up to Clark lakes and swam there and refilled water. A little bit of a climb but great views. The way down rush creek trail towards Agnew was steep and rocky - difficult for the dogs pads. Stopped at the dam for refueling and finished the hike down with a stop in Silver lake to swim! A GREAT three day hike. Be prepared for bugs. Pack everything out :)

The climb was relentless but the views and scenery are worth it! Start early because you don’t want to be climbing up the first 2000’ in the hot sun with little shade. The mosquitoes were really bad this time of year, especially at Clark Lake! Really glad we did the loop instead of out and back. We took lots of breaks, took a dip in the cold water below Thousand Island Lake, and stopped to talk to lots of thru-hikers, so it took us 11 hours.

backpacking
3 months ago

Gorgeous views and relentless climbing to reach the high Sierra backcountry, but absolutely worth the work. Parking is safe at the Rush Creek Trailhead near Silver Lake. Did this as a four day thru-hike to Tuolumne Meadows in June 2018, using the JMT/PCT over Donohue Pass. This was the most beautiful and committing backpack trip I've done, and is a must-do. Arrange for a ride back from T Meadows via YART, a private shuttle service or hitch a ride. This is a friendly area of California.

hiking
4 months ago

Did as part of a hike into Devil's Postpile and Rainbow falls. A little bit hard to follow trail on the way up due to snow. The trail seemed to deviate at the end from what was shown on the topo and https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/21/mammoth-pass-trail
We ended up popping out by Red's Meadow Resort, not the campground. Ends up being slightly shorter than what was described on the Mammoth Trails website. Not much shade on the way down the hill to Red's Meadow Resort. Fill up water at the Red's Meadow Resort for the walk back up the hill!

Pat Ribotto - I'm a little confused on the ANYO Permit request for overnighting on the Loop. Did you get permits for all the areas your traveled on this Loop or was just one needed that included all areas on the loop.

Breathtaking spot!
Awesome hike!
Highly recommend !!

backpacking
5 months ago

We stayed the night at Garnet lake VIA the JMT back in 2017. when we came up on Thousand Island and we knew we had to come back someday. We will be hiking back up from Silver lake this July. Can anyone tell us where is a good safe place to park for the trip? Thanks.

backpacking
6 months ago

We actually made a loop hike from Agnew Meadows to Ediza, then stayed the next night at Minnaret Lake having hiked by Iceberg and Cecile. That off-trail section was a bit sketchy due to incline and tallus. However, the Minnarets presiding over all of those gorgeous lakes were breathtaking. Ediza L. to Minnaret L. is some of the most beautiful land in Ansel Adams Wilderness to me, and that is really saying something because there are many spectacular places there.

backpacking
7 months ago

The first time I did this hike, I was 10 years old and I never forgot it. It remains branded in my head. Now, I’m in my 50’s and its beauty hasn’t changed.

Spent a rest day here. Beautiful area and great fishing.

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