Explore the most popular trail running 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.

backpacking
8 days ago

Not sure if I need to add to the big review pile for this trail, but why not. It lives up to the hype and the access is easy. I would say this is an excellent trail for beginning backpackers who want to experience the Sierra Nevada at its best.

It is popular for a reason, but the presence of people dwindle the further up you go, and there are options to expand beyond this trail (such as Agassiz Col which I attempted but failed, a successful failure I must say).

Why does the summary on this trail's description say it "features a lake"? As a matter of fact, it features so many lakes the namers half-assedly named them numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...!

I hiked this trail 5 times as part of John Muir Trail and few other times just for Mount Whitney. I like it in winter or early spring. I always hike it in one day. I like the views from the Trail Crest, the Marmors and the summit. I don’t like the switchbacks when there are crowds.

First attempt may 5th 2017. Left at 3am for a one day climb but 3 miles in the trail disappeared. Continued climbing up another 3 miles weather started getting bad, extreme high winds and 2 ft of snow dropped that day. Decided to go back to base camp disappointed we couldn't continue. 1 guy was found dead that previous week and a couple went missing that same weekend. It can be dangerous during snow season but easy during summer. You always have to make the right calls to stay alive. I plan on going back and finish the hike.

Unfortunately we were there without snow shoes end of march. We had to turn around. What we saw.... 5 stars although we didn’t make it to the lakes.

9-29-18

Favorite trail to date! Was well cleared and easy to follow, a lot of switchbacks along a steady incline but very doable. Go on a clear day and the views are unrivaled!

I've hiked this route about 3-4 times and love it! My favorite spot to camp is at the biggest Cottonwood lake. Beautiful! Fairly easy getting into the Cottonwood Lakes basin. The trail is nice and very easy to follow. From the lakes to the top of Langley can be a challenge. Definitely prefer Old Army pass as is detailed on this map as the trail tops out in the bottom of the pass. But I've had to go around by Long lake a couple of times due to snow conditions on Old Army pass. Going that way means you have to go up and over and down from a ridge, which means on your way back down from the peak, you have a substantial uphill once again. But when the Old Army pass trail is snowed over, it's better than nothing. The last bit to the top of Langley is a scramble through the scree and route finding through the boulders. Coming down the scree field is fun, though. Some of my best backpacking memories are from this trail.

Left the portal at 4am with a flashlight,as the batteries were dying the sun was rising! Don’t know if this is some kind of close to record time but I was back down at the Portal by a quarter to 2.
I was in my forties and super fit(USCF rider)
In any case it was a spectacular hike...recommend it to anyone who loves majestic views.Just get yourself in some kind of shape....it will be much more enjoyable.

we did this in ice and snow in 2k17. it was an awesome challenge and we completed it in one day from the Whitney trailhead. The switchbacks were closed due to snow so we had to climb the chute, that was the best part other than the summit. I'm doing it twice this year! This place is amazing, truly.

backpacking
2 months ago

Camped overnight at Barney.

This was the most beautiful hike I’ve been on! The lakes were like turquoise gems against the snow patched craggy mountains. The switchbacks take you up into the John Muir Wilderness where a surge of water runs along your path. You can rest by Lon Chaney’s old cabin and continue on to find more gorgeous lakes as you walk. True story: I inhaled a mountain fly and within a few minutes it came out my nose. I swear...disgusting but true. The nice thing is that you can choose to go out six miles or complete the whole trail and you will feel accomplished either way.

Like Mr Dave I did this hike when I was 19 or 20! We went up in 1 day stayed in lone pine as well what a wonderful place! You defiantly should bring a water purifier and I would suggest stopping at the first camp to acclimate. I may have to try the lottery to see where I stand at 44 years old- cheers to all!

hiking
3 months ago

We just hiked to Second Lake (mid January ‘18) and are amazed at how gradual the trail is - probably because it’s graded for stock. It was a fast hike of only 10 miles round trip, but the views are staggering, especially in winter. If you hit this trail before the next major snow you only need micro spikes after the Ranger Station.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked to the first lake in mid-January. We used the trail along the side of the mountain to avoid hiking in snow. There’s some elevation gain on that side. After the initial climb, you’ll be hiking in some snow to the cabin. Some parts the snow was ankle deep as no one had hiked before us. After the cabin is all snow. Lake was frozen over. Beautiful sight to see. Only had two other hikers trailing us. On the way back, a few backpackers were headed up for camping.

fishing
3 months ago

Hiked this trail early October. Tough fishing at Duck Lake but awesome scenery.

Worth the hard climb. Hiked this trail during the summer, bring a lot of water!!!!!!! So beautiful but I was sore for two days

Excellent hike. Amazing views of the Sierra and Owens valley. Not an easy hike but well worth it. Not much snow at 10,000 for January. Lake was frozen solid. Ice appeared to be a couple feet thick.

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!

This is not for the weak!! I got slight elevation sickness (headache and mild nausea). Not recommended if you have asthma or any condition. Overall STUNNING views. Amazing. The trail is extremely well maintained!

What an amazing experience. We loved every step and it awesome to reach out the beautiful lake.

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 today 12.09.2017, the trail was covered with snow and the lakes were frozen. The trail was nice, it gives you great views and the silence around was amazing.

I am an old man now and have not done this in a long time, longer than I care to admit. Fees, permits, reservations were not required, you need to check into that these days.
Went up and down it numerous times in one day in my 20's I still could

A quick hike on a steep, but extremely well maintained trail. Hiked this over Thanksgiving with snow on the higher portions of the trail. Still didn’t need micro spikes though. I recommend walking to the far side of the lake to get a full view of Thor and Whitney. Benefit of going during the winter is the frozen lake provides great access to the other side *Attempt at your own risk*.

I recommend doing Whitney it’s worth all the hard work. I hiked Whitney from the backside while hiking the JMT

Great trail to enter Kings canyon and the JMT. Very well maintained. The views at the pass are amazing. I’ve done a few over nighters and trips to Whitney from here.

The hike is all uphill with plenty of switchbacks . It definitely takes time to complete but the view and lake are beautiful ! Snow was more common the higher in elevation we went . By the lake in certain areas it was almost knee deep . Slippery ice as well!

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