Explore the most popular river 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.

This hike was amazing a must do hike you can’t find better scenery then Garnet and thousand island lake started at Agnew meadows at 6:30am finished at 2pm there wasn’t much traffic either highly recommend this hike

We mapped this trail to be more like 7.5 miles. The return is where you will see your elevation gain with 9 switch backs and a gradual climb. I'm not the strongest hiker and made it back up about 4 miles, without stopping.
If you go past the bridge towards the end and not across you will come to Soda Springs camp ground which has a bathroom, water, and bear boxes.
Overall the trail was easy to follow and well maintained. I rated it a 4 due to the lack of traffic, beautiful views of the river, and being so shady. It was a bit anticlimactic and if you love water you will enjoy the clear waters of the river and a dip.
If you continue a few more miles down the trail you will reach Reds Meadow, Devil's Postpile/Rainbow falls. We would have if it wasn't getting late in the day. If you are looking for peace and quite and some seclusion, choose 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.


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!

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.

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.

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.

4 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.

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.

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.

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.

8 months ago

I backpacked through this trail a few years back before it was on alltrails. I was hoping to keep traffic down on it, so I never added it. Now that it IS on alltrails I guess Ill give my opinion. This is my all time favorite trail for a weekend trip! its a pretty good climb up to Lower Sardine lake, but well worth it. There are some beautiful water falls on the way up and the fishing at lower sardine was awesome. We caught 4 fish (brookies)in a matter of 15 mins. We camped at Lower Sardine the first night, there is a good spot at the North end of,the lake. I recommend climbing up to Upper Sardine and checking out the view from up there. We were getting picked up in Yosemite, so we continued over to Parker Pass and camped a second night over there. The light blue waters in the surrounding ponds were really cool.

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

10 months ago

I’ve backpacked Thousand island lakes so many times it never gets old. The views and hike in and out are amazing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

From Silver Lake, following the Rush Creek trailhead it looks deceptive on the map. Do not be fooled. This is a relentless climb to the lake. If you are back packing I strongly suggest an early start. If they have closed the south route around Agnew you have hard climbing. I recommend spending the night at the larger of Clark Lake where you can also catch dinner.

There are two brutal switchbacks before Clark. They will help make up your mind whether to push on or camp.

Thousand Island is worth the pain to get there. If you are camping you are limited to the west side. We day holed from Clark so we swam around the islands. Great fun. The downside is that because of the spectacular scenery it is well travelled. You will not be alone.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I've hiked 1,000 miles of the PCT and JMT and I would rate this trail as difficult. There is a closure around Agnew lake because of dam repair so you have to take the north side detour which adds about 4 miles. It's a full day to get to 1,000 island. Enjoy!

Monday, September 04, 2017

trail is closed as of June 30th where it turns into spooky meadow trail. The detour adds about 5 miles

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wonderful hike on a great trail with mountain and lake views. Dog friendly. Surprising did not see many other hikers in August.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Trailhead is from Walker Lake, you need to drive to the Walker Lake campground along Forrest Road 1S23. This road is a dirt road in reasonable condition, although when we went there was some residual storm damage from the winter, but our Toyota mini-van did manage the drive and by the time we left they had filled in the worst divets.

There is a nice campground at the end of the road, it will be obvious when you get there. A pit toilet is there and nice small campground if you want to spend the night before you set off. You start walking through the campground and within 50 feet on your right the trailhead takes you up immediately a small hill from which you can look down to Walker lake. You immediately start down a steep incline until you reach the bottom along the shore of Walker Lake. The trail is well marked and easy to follow.

The hike up to Lower Sardine Lake takes you every upwards with nice switchbacks, but this trail is not heavily used and parts are not well maintained. Small areas are washed out, fallen trees along trail and areas of significant overgrowth of brush. You will have 4 stream crossings and this year with the historical rains a few will challenge your balance with a heavy pack. Lots of wild flowers along the trail and the pleasant scents of wild oregano liven the senses. We did not scout any significant campsites at lower Sardine lake and went on to Upper Sardine. This is the most difficult part of the trail. Ice and Snow cover some of the most steep sections of trail and there is lots of scree and loose rocks to navigate to get up to Upper Sardine lake. This small section after already going up 2000 feet taxed us greatly.
At Upper Sardine Lake there are actually two lakes, plenty of quality campsites can be found, but the best are at the second of the two lakes which is actually Upper Sardine Lake. Great views of Mono Lake are a treat from the ridges on the east side of Upper Sardine lake (which is where the good campsites are). Upper Sardine has great quality fresh water that is constantly being fed from streams above.

We dropped our packs on day two and made the easy hike to Mono Pass and into Yosemite. This part of the trail is easy and beautiful. We then hiked to Parker Pass at 11,000 feet.

The hike out of Bloody Canyon was a real grind due to the areas of iced trail and attempting to find safe routes down the steepest, rockiest parts of the trail. As others have indicated the hike back up to the Walker Lake Campground from Walker Lake is a real work-out. It is a nice trail, but very few switchbacks and just straight back up to the campsite, it is a great cardiac stress test with a full pack.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Be advised, as of now 7/5/17 the latter part of the trail is covered in snow. I day hiked this trail from silver lake to Gem Lake, across Rush creek to Clark lakes up to Thousand Island lake. The scenery was amazing. I did not run into a single soul until the PCT section of the trail. The trail can be tough in certain sections due to steep elevation climb but the end result will be worth it. I would not recommend this trail for a day hike to anyone as I caught slight elevation sickness from going up and coming down too fast. Maybe I'm a little green but I trained for this for a year. If you're gonna be in the June Lake area for a hike bring a tent and bug spray and do this amazing trip in two days. My only regret was not stopping to enjoy all the scenery that God made for us to see. John Muir was right saying "Banner Peak was the noblest of all mountains". If you choose this trail, you'll always remember the sights to be seen. I can't wait to go back someday!!!

Monday, April 24, 2017

I've done a lot of backpacking throughout the years and this hike is on top of my list for most scenic and was not that difficult to get to. Definitely highly recommended.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Can others clarify - is this hike hikeable at this time of year already? Are the trails clear?

Monday, February 13, 2017

My wife and I hiked this loop last July and it is one my favs for sure. The Ritter Range is something to see. I mapped out this route myself and it turned out to be a good one. We were going to spend 6 nights, but we cut it short by one night as we had done all we wanted to anyway. Starting at Silver Lake, it climbs steady to Agnew Lake, then another pretty good climb from there to Gem Lake. It mellows out a bit after Gem Lake as it follows Rush creek thru the woods towards Waugh Lake A really nice stretch right there. One last little pitch to get up to Waugh Lake and then a nice walk around the north side of the lake. We made this our first nights spot. There weren't a ton of camp spots, but there are a few as you get to the west end of the lake. Pretty windy all day our first day, and that night as well. The next day we packed up and were headed for Garnet Lake as our next stop. Once on the JMT, we started our climb to Island Pass. What a great view from up there in all directions. Great photos from this spot. Then down to 1000 Island Lake. All the lakes were great. Each one with it's own character to it. The view of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak just kept changing the further south we walked along the JMT. Then we did another little up and down stretch between 1000 Island Lake and Garnet Lake. Finding a nice spot to camp at Garnet lake was a little more difficult. I did find what looked to be a possibility on Google earth before we left home, and that's where we wound up. No shade, but it had all the other criteria. Close to water, a level spot for the tent and privacy. The next mornings reflection shots on the lake were perfect. Worth getting up early for. From Garnet we hiked along the JMT until the cutoff to Ediza Lake. That was our 3rd and 4th nights destination. Again, found my camp spot from my research on Google earth. Great spot and we enjoyed our 2 nights there. On our off day, we hiked up to Iceberg Lake, and hoped to get to Cecile as well. But the amount of snow along the south east shore of Iceberg was such that I wasn't risking a slide into the lake. We settled for that as being our furthest point on this trip. Incredible spot with the Minarets right in your face . Then back to our campsite after and I wanted to do one more jaunt. So up towards Banner and Ritter I went. My wife bowed out of this one. Another incredible spot to be standing right below these two peaks. Water pouring down everywhere from above. Had the place to myself. High country at its best. The next day we packed up and headed down Shadow creek all the way to the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. We crossed the bridge over the river and then got on the river trail north. We hiked all the way to the Clark Lakes that day. A long haul, and Agnew pass at the very end was something we hadn't planned on. Super steep and really kicked our butts. I again found our camp spot from previous searches on Google earth. Great spot with a huge view. The next morning we hiked back to our truck down a really steep trail, back past Agnew Lake on the opposite side , and then back to Silver Lake on the last 2 miles or so that we had been on before. Great loop. Another Sierra hike off the list. This area of the Ansel Adams Wilderness is a must do!!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Great hike and amazing views. I've wanted to come here for quite sometime.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

This hike was unbelievable... I did it with myself and my bestfriend over the summer and we were planning to go to garnet lake from Devils postpile but we took the wrong trail and ended up at thousand island lake. we took the river trail there and it was amazingly beautiful walking through the meadows but at the same time sad because of how bad our drought is in California. when we got to thousand island the views were unbelievable I felt like I was in another world but we started our hike at 8am and were planning on being back by 7pm but when we looked at the time when we got to thousand island we noticed it was 2 in the afternoon and we had to get back to Devils postpile before 7 so we had to literally run back. we went and passed garnet lake and then up a mountain and passed shadow and down shadow falls which is extremely steep and all down hill on rocks and when we got back to the river trail we sprinted the whole way back from the end of shadow falls to Devils postpile. even though we had a long detour it was a very long hike 20+ miles and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys to hike and be in nature just to maybe spend the night at thousand island so you can enjoy the hike more.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

We hiked the PCT high trail to Thousand Island Lake in August 2014. The views were phenomenal, you are basically hiking through a hillside wildflower meadow for over 5 miles with constant views of the Ritter Range. Stunning. The first few miles from Agnew Meadows are steep but once you get to the heart of the high trail there's not a lot of elevation change.

We camped at Thousand Island Lake and followed the John Muir Trail south to the turnoff for Ediza Lake. This lake is truly a magical place, with the most docile wildlife we've encountered in the Sierra Nevada. Deer came and grazed right around our tent, and we saw numerous marmots just hanging out, as well as a long-tailed weasel.

Third day we hiked down to Shadow Lake and all the way down to the River trail back to Agnew Meadows. Beautiful views following Shadow Falls down down down. All in all one of the best hikes in the Sierras for unequivocal beauty.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I drove up to Mammoth straight from school on Friday 9/12 and arrived at the New Shady Rest Campground at 930pm. I got this campground because Old Shady Rest was closed and I wasn't sure I would get a spot at Agnew Meadows and any farther down the road because they were first come first served. Now I know I could have just parked and slept in my car at the trailhead or camped at Minaret as many of the others did. At 630am I drove out of the campsite and went to breakfast at "The Stove," my favorite breakfast place in Mammoth. Then I drove to the Agnew Meadows trailhead and was ready to go at 830am. The leaders and others got breakfast at Red's Meadow (I heard it was ok). The mandatory shuttle was not running so we didn't have to worry about getting in by 7am or leaving after 7pm.

We took the River Trail (JMT) out of Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake. The first 1. 6 miles was downhill 528 ft. From there it was about a 2,000 ft elevation gain with a total of 9.6 miles to the campsite. It was a pretty easy back pack in. I carried a 47 lb pack, which is still too heavy. It got hard once we had reached Thousand Island lake (about 8 miles in) but we still had to hike another 1.6 miles to the preferred campsite on the SW end of the lake. It was hard to find a group of established campsites together for a group of 15. We had a potluck or "happy hour" after a few of us got in the lake, it was quite cold (understatement).

The next morning the leaders woke everyone up at 530am to prepare for our off-trail day trip to Mt Davis. It took 3.15 miles and 2,357 ft elevation gain to reach the summit of Mt Davis. It was all boulder hopping and walking on small rocks. On the way to Mt Davis we passed by Lake Catherine which sits at the bottom between Mt Ritter and Mt Banner. It was a gorgeous lake with multiple small lakes surrounding it. Mt Davis is 12,325 ft tall, we signed the register and took pictures at the summit. It was quite cold so we didn't stay too long. I neglected to bring a beanie or gloves (I wasn't thinking how cold the summit would be), so Nikki let me borrow an extra pair of gloves. My hands were swollen, red, and frozen, so that helped immensely. My feet were really hurting the last mile and a half. Before that I was having a great time boulder hopping, I'm quite fast at it, and it's super fun. However, 6.86 miles of boulder hopping and walking across scree was not a great idea. My feet were dead back in camp. We had left 715am that morning and didn't return until 538pm, so it was a 10.5 hour hike! We did another dip in the lake after we got back right before dinner and another "happy hour."

The next morning my feet were dead but we still had to hike out. We decided to take the High trail (PCT) out because the leader said it had good views and that the up would be at the beginning and the down at the end to the cars. It ended up being a total of 10.08 miles with an overall drop of 1553 ft but the first 7 miles was either flat, down, or up and the last 3 miles was all down (a drop of 1300 ft). So my dead quit on me for the last 3 miles. They became numb. I loosened my laces and then they just hurt a LOT!!! They were rushing us on the way back because one of the hikers held us up for 45 minutes that morning. We didn't get out of camp until 930am! Then that hiker decided to run/hike the way out. So our pace was way too fast, especially on the down hill. That did not help my feet whatsoever. We got back to the cars at 242pm. The way in was fine, the day hike was too crazy but awesome, and the hike out was not paced well at all. Instead of a leader leading, they let an inexperienced hiker lead because she wanted to get out to margaritas. I was quite pissed.

Even though the hike pace and length was not to my liking, the trip itself was beyond gorgeous!! Thousand Island Lakes was amazing, and the views on the way to and on top of Mt Davis were incredible. I would love to go the area again but at my own pace and schedule.

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