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Agnew Lake, Gem Lake, Waugh Lake and Clark Lakes Loop Trail [CLOSED]

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Inyo National Forest

Agnew Lake, Gem Lake, Waugh Lake and Clark Lakes Loop Trail [CLOSED] is a 17.9 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near June Lake, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 17.9 mi Elevation gain 4,101 ft Route type Loop
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Hiking Nature trips Bird watching Forest Lake River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Closed
Description
Waypoints (0)

As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. See park page for more information. Hiked this trail the weekend of July 17th, 2020. One night at the trailhead, and 2x nights on the trail. 24.7mi total. Trailhead & Permits: Rush Creek Trailhead at Silver Lake. Easy to get to, right off the main road. For permits, reserve on Recreation.gov and search for Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permits, look for Rush Creek Trailhead. Trail Conditions: Easy to follow, well marked and maintained. There were no challenges of overgrown shrub or down trees. Water: Always bring enough water and prepare correctly. This loop covered plenty of lakes and creeks, which were all quite plentiful and flowing. Water sources were not an issue on this loop. Dog Friendly: Technically yes.... however, this loop was a challenge, and long stretches of nothing but rock, exposed and very hot. Not recommending for dogs, unless your dog is REALLY well trail conditioned. Bug Factor: 2 out of 10. Some mosquitos at dusk, otherwise, wasn't really an issue. Bring some spray, but it wasn't necessary to have a face net. Recommendation: Overall, this loop is fantastic. The first 3.5-4mi in from the trailhead however was not great - remnants of mining and dam construction all over the place, and we must have run into the "helicopter re-supply weekend", as the chopper was literally flying all over us. Once you get past all that nonsense and hit the back side of Gem Lake, you'll then feel like you're in the wilderness. From Gem Lake all the way around to Garnett Lake is just stunning! This is some of the most beautiful hiking in the Sierra's we've done and worth the arduous climb to the back section. Island pass in particular is just an 11 out of 10...breathtaking. Thousand Island Lake and Garnett Lake likewise, stunning scenery. As you come back from Garnett Lake toward Agnew Lake, there are amazing views as well. Highly recommend to do this loop counter-clockwise, otherwise you will be climbing up non-stop from the trail head all the way to before Garnett Lake over hot, rocky, exposed conditions with a full pack. This loop is a great 2-nighter, however not recommending it for beginner backpackers; there are some tough sections, so be sure you carefully review topo's and distances before you go.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (34)
Photos (830)
Recordings (32)
Completed (56)
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ford james
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 3, 2020
Hiking

Did this as a 4 night/5 Day. Camped at Waugh lake first night. Recommend camping on rush creek either before or after Waugh lake as the lake is almost completely drained and getting water is a muddy challenge. Also note that the Gaia and Caltopo trail maps are out of date for the small section about a mile beyond Waugh lake to the JMT. They show the trail on the west side of rush creek to the JMT. There is a spectacular watering hole on rush creek there with a log bridge across (can't miss it) and the trail actually crosses rush creek there and joins the JMT about a mile north/west. From Silver lake to Waugh lake kinda unexciting compared to the spectacular vistas and lakes on the rest of the loop. Smoke was not too bad on most days and seemed to clear later in the day. Zero bugs. JMT a bit busy. Highly recommend.

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Dave Fork
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Hiking
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Christine Sunshine
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BackpackingNo shadeRocky

Beautiful trail! The lakes are stunning! If would do it again as an overnight backpacking trip I would plan on camping at Waugh Lake instead of Thousand Island. Way less mosquitos and more inviting for swimming! I think Thousand Island has better fishing though :) Bring water for the first three miles and don't start to late! The way back down to Agnew Lake is pretty rocky (sharp, hot rocks). I would recommend hiking poles for you and shoes or wax for your dogs paws (my fur baby is super tough and I would always smile at people talking about dog shoes but this section was pretty tough on her). Enjoy!

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Ethan Ebrahimi
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HikingBugs

Amazing trail

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Jeremy Williams
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HikingFloodedIcyOff trailSnowWashed out

Attempted May 25 2020. First off, this is one eye opening hike! every step of the way is something beautiful to see; gem lake is for sure my favorite. Unfortunately i was not able to complete the loop, or even reach the john muir intersection, as the last stream crossing is absolutely impassable right now; due to high current and huge snow banks on every place you could try to cross. In addition, about half of the trail between gem and waugh lakes is completely buried under snow, mud, and water. Very difficult to find the trail, and alltrails will constantly point you offtrail for some reason. All that said, if you want to do an out and back to waugh, this is a great trail with 3 major stream crossings, a few awesome waterfalls, bridges over rushing streams, and some great views of the lakes and surrounding mountains. definitely a close second to big pine lake for my favorite sierra hike:)

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Sean Lorimor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 7, 2019
HikingRocky

Oct 7, 2019. Great weather, no bugs, no snow or ice on the trail. Highly recommend as a very strenuous day hike or an overnight. Aspens are turning beautifully.

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collin hofmann
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Hiking

Pretty strenuous hike, but great views of the lakes. There is a snow wall at the end of the hike near agnew lake, which is impassable unless you have an ice axe and crampons, so you have to turn back around unfortunately.

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Pavel Tomek
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BackpackingOff trailScrambleSnow

We went in the last week of June 2019 (heavy snow year). The loop provides amazing views of Sierra peaks, Silver lake and Mono lake and is well worth the effort. There is a LOT of snow though. The trail from rush creek to Gem lake was very dry and manageable without any snow equipment. The hike from gem to Waugh lake required GPS as the trail was covered in snow. There was one stream crossing across a log that required good balance because the water was rushing quickly below. Waugh lake has several good and dry campsites that were not covered in snow. When traveling from Waugh lake to the PCT, we had one sketchy stream crossing that was challenging with packs on near the end of Waugh lake. Finding the PCT required GPS since the trail was fully covered in snow. The hike to island pass required crampons but is OK without an ice axe. After crossing the pass, we lost the trail and went straight to Thousand Island Lake. The lake is 85% frozen, but still beautiful. All possible camp grounds were covered in snow so we decided to hike on to Clark lake. The path to Clark lake requires GPS and is easy to lose. Clark lake was not the most beautiful lake, but it got us closer to the trailhead. From Clark lake we went over the pass down to Agnew lake. This was the most challenging part of the hike because the trail is very steep - normally there are switchbacks, but its all covered in snow and very slippery. Ice axe highly recommended, we got through without but two people in our group fell and slid down over hundred feet before catching a tree. The most sketchy part is right above Agnew lake when the slope is the steepest and there is no trail visible. There is also no safe runoff. If we did this again from Clark lake, we probably would have went back to Gem lake and down the mountain which adds miles but is less steep. One more thing, we had to traverse long stretches with snow fields that look covered in little craters/holes - it would be easy to twist you ankle if you didn't watch your step and the progress was very slow.

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Alexandra Siberia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2018

The trail is gorgeous. We went for 2 nights. First night we slept by the Gem lake. second night by the Thousand Island Lake. All together the trail is a little more than 20 mi. its November, so at night the temperature dropped very low, to around 10F. However, during the day hiking was warm enough. There is no developed campgrounds, so you can camp almost anywhere. there is plenty of water, so there is no need to carry lots of water with you. Waugh lake is not really a lake because of the dam, its dried. Our dog was super happy with the hike, too. We picked up permit, maps and bear canister at Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center.

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Alice Ham
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Hiking
First to Review

Steep climb up to Agnew Lake but great views of Silver Lake and the valley on the way up. FYI it's just under 1.5hrs up to Agnew with a few photo breaks

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Carly Hubbard
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Hiking
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Carly Hubbard
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Hiking
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Tim Brandel
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Hiking
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Deysi Varela
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Hiking
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Richard Powell
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Hiking
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Celia Ebrahimi
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Hiking
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Michael Carey
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Hiking
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Mason Morin
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Hiking
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Scott Hadley
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Hiking
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Sarah Lalau
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Hiking
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Dara R
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Hiking
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Scottie Marzonie
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Hiking
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Dara R
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Hiking
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