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

One of my favorite hikes I did in this area (probably nr.1). It is definitely moderate to strenuous (I hike quite a bit) so be prepared for a steep hike. The gate was closed, so we had to park our car further down the street - which added an extra 2 miles one way to our hike. You can go higher up if you feel like it once you reach Flower like (which is the third lake. The first one is very small, the second one is also beautiful). When we went, in late April, the lakes were still frozen. There were some patches of snow along the way but no need for snowshoes if you only go up to Flower lake. You can go further if you want but would not recommend this time of the year without some experience and the proper gear.

There is lots of space around the lakes to camp at night if you feel like it. Will definitely do this hike again. I loved the views along the way and the frozen lake with the massive mountains in the back as a reward at the top are just majestic.

Gorgeous hike! Stunning vistas. When we started the gate wasn’t open, but it is now. Lucky hikers can park and start right at the trailhead!
We had hiking shoes and were fine, but micro spikes would have worked well today, -still large spots with snow, though melting quickly. Snowshoes as you get deeper would surely come in handy. We turned back 3 miles in (we started late) but I imagine our shoes would have taken us all the way. Just be careful as the snow is melting and it’s easier to fall through.

camping
3 months ago

Camped at Box Lake and it was the bomb.

Truly a "gem" of a hike - the views are spectacular! Starting at 10K, but not a lot of elevation gain in the hike. Did this over the summer, but created my account in January, so we did NOT go in the winter!

Great hike! The road to the trailhead is closed due to snow 1.3 miles short of the trailhead. Luckily others had hiked before us so the snow was slightly packed out. When my gps said we were .8 away from gem lake the footprints stopped. The snow was now too deep, in my opinion, to posthole for another mile and it was getting late so we turned around. Still a beautiful hike!

We went up to Bishop for a night with our pup two weeks ago and decided to try our hand at this trail—glad we did. Every turn gave you a new breathtaking view of snow tipped mountains and several lakes. We even saw a few people playing ice hockey on a frozen lake! We aren’t experienced hikers, but the intensity of the trail was doable with a few breaks along the way. Due to a flare up of an old back injury, we turned around with a mile left before the turnaround, unfortunately. It took us about 4 hours for 5.5 miles and the views and experience were definitely worth putting in the miles!

This is a beautiful trail! It is very well maintained and our 5 year old and 9 year old hiked it fine.

Our only issue was initially finding the trail, as many websites hardly mention it.

“From Bishop go North on Highway 395 to Tom’s Place. Follow Rock Creek Road to Mosquito Flat to the end of the paved road where there is plenty of hiker parking.”


Those were the best direction I found. No distances listed.

Absolutely gorgeous trail. Probably my favorite lake trail in California. Not too hard either.

Very scenic hike, slight incline the ap says it’s “easy” it’s a little harder then easy for beginners but the scenery is absolutely beautiful, the trees, rocks, lakes and mountains are just perfect. Worth your time.

Epic trail def want to start early

This hike was spectacular. Lots of great views. Because of poor planning, we ended up going over Morgan Pass and kept hiking for 2 extra miles. The sign that was SUPPOSED to be directing people to Morgan Pass vs gem lakes was MIA. This caused quite the confusion within our party. We then made our way over to gem lakes and decided to climb the ridge next to the upper lake. (YOLO) overall, great hike, great views, would rate 10/10.

We packed up to Gilbert Lake after spending the night at Onion Valley campground (highly recommend site #25) spent one night at gorgeous Gilbert Lake then a short skip to the even more beautiful Flower Lake. Plenty of campsites on the southern side of the lake and plenty of hungry trout to be caught!
This is a challenging uphill trail for anyone except for the most fit hiker. The elevation gain is to be respected and some may be more effected at 10k elevation than others.
Stunningly beautiful scenery and comparatively easy access to the John Muir Wilderness and Eastern Sierras.
Plenty of parking at the Onion Valley trailhead with vault toilets, trash and shared bear lockers.
Bear cans are required for overnight per park services although, most people we ran into didn't carry one.

Great vistas. Gorgeous sky, lakes, running streams. Perfect half day hike (we went on up to Morgan pass).

One of my favorite easy pleasant hikes in the Sierra Nevada.

We hiked the trail to Gem Lake this weekend. Temps were great during the day, nights were chilly. We camped and were very cozy in 20 degree bags with no problem. Snow was still present at Gem Lake (11,000 feet). Fish were small but fun to catch. The altitude in addition to our overweight packs kicked our buts and the kids succumbed to a few hours of altitude sickness. I would suggest a day of acclimation if your coming from sea level like we did before carrying 35 lbs up 1000 feet of elevation gains like I did. I was beat at the top. We saw two hikers turn around at the .5 mile mark because the first part is a bit steep if not acclimated. Views were spectacular, trail is beautifully well kept. Lake pristine. Lots of hikers in the first three miles....even Gem Lake at 3.5 miles in had a good number of campers. We had rain showers both days during late afternoon. 3-6 pm. 5 stars for the beauty of the trail. Lots of lakes and creeks to cross. Lots of dogs on trail on and off leash. All were friendly. No water at trailhead. Bring water / water filter device.

Took the family and the dog...beautiful weather and a beautiful hike!

Follow Rock Creek Road from 395; it turns into a narrow gravel road, so just stay on the road to the trail head parking lot. Easy trails to nice lake and mountain vistas, so it's probably a good idea to get there early on a weekend. In minutes you get to view Mack Lake, then Heart Lake and Box Lake. Got to shoot pix of the lakes and plenty of wildflowers, which I didn't expect at the end of August. There were some mosquitoes near the lakes and toward dusk; overall a great quick alpine lake fix. Looks like there are plenty of campgrounds on the road into the trailhead.

Awesome trail. Great views. Highly recommended for all skill levels even though there are a few minor climbs. I just went today at almost the end of summer. Go. You won't regret it

There are no signs either reaching the trail head or along the trail. You have to know that Little lakes valley trail head is called Mosquito flat trail head. There is no sign along the trail showing either direction or distance. The last mile from Long Lake to Gem lake is steep and difficult. There is no sign for the direction to Gem lakes (on the right). On busy days like Labor day, if you don't reach there by 8 am, you won't find parking. It took us 5 hours(about 3 hours to Gem lakes and 2 hours to come back) to complete the trail(including stopping for pictures), so plan properly. Gem lake is the 6th lake on the trail. although the maps says 7.2 miles, our app calculated 8.5 miles.

always been my favorite and it was good to hike it after so many years away.

Hiked to Lower Morgan 1st then on way back made it to Gem Lakes. Well worth the trip! The turn off to Gem Lakes was moved further up the trail and not as on the recording. Mosquitoes early in the AM but not later in the morning.

backpacking
9 months ago

Gorgeous area, breathtaking views. Some snow still visible on slopes and peaks in the distance. Area is quite popular for day hikers and fishing so it was great to camp off trail -- book your permits well in advance if you want to go on a weekend.

Took kids ages 9 and 12 on their first backpack trip. Easy trail with minimal elevation gain so that wasn't an issue. Mild altitude sickness experienced by one of the kids and one of the adults.

Mosquitoes were fierce especially at dusk and in the morning. Be warned that natural type non-Deet repellents do NOT work! Mosquito nets highly recommended.

Got bit in excess of a dozen times. The mosquitoes bit through my clothes! But areas sprayed with DEET were left alone. A mosquito head net is a good idea. Altitude is definitely a factor, but this affects people differently. If you know you're sensitive, you may want to allow time to acclimate.

There were A LOT of people on this trail. It got really busy by 12p. If you want to get away from crowds, this won't be the hike for you. There's a stream crossing where the trail got washed out. You can either hop on the rocks, some of which are wobbly, or just wade through the shallow-ish water. The trail is wet in other spots, too but easily negotiated.

This is one of the most beautiful hikes anywhere. The lakes and streams combined with the high granite peaks make a creative statement. Enjoy a day in "God's Cathedral"!
My boys and I have been backpacking in this valley for years together. We love exploring the lakes beyond the trail. But beware the mosquitoes are fierce this year!

9 months ago

By far the most beautiful hike I've ever done. Elevation is serious so be prepared and acclimated. However there are so many beautiful lakes and views to enjoy no matter how far you go up.

Pretty view, although too many mosquitoes..

As my neighbors say, nor smiles per mile on this hike than any other hike in the Eastern Sierra.

Best hike of the week.
Getting to Gem Lake was difficult to find with the snow still at the turn to the lake.
This was actually a 8.25 mile hike with the additional hiking to the little lakes.
Awesome photo taking.

So many beautiful lakes, streams, meadows, and wildflowers that you start to become desensitized to them. This is only a five-star hike if you go all the way to the last (and best) Gem Lake, which requires some off trail excursions across snow and overflowing creeks. We definitely needed GPS for the last half-mile. The hike is easy and therefore a bit overcrowded for the first two miles from the parking lot. Make sure you bring LOTS of bug repellent if you start early. The mosquitoes were more manageable when we returned at 11am.

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