Big Pine Lakes Trail

MODERATE 52 reviews
#2 of 97 trails in

Big Pine Lakes Trail is a 11.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Big Pine, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
11.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3480 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
9 hours ago

Amazing and definitely moderate-hard level trail. We arrived early in the morning on a weekday and parking was plentiful. Encountered deer grazing and strolling along the rushing streams. Cool and sunny in the beginning of the trail, which was nice since it is exposed. Eventually after a bit of scrambling we were rewarded with an amazing waterfall. We kept on through a wooded area. The shade was much needed as it actually got warm into the middle of the day. After a skip and a hop over a snake that shot out of nowhere and some small streams, we made it to the "Rangers Cabin" and took a breather while our pup explored some snow that had not melted yet. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the lakes as we had to turn around because of personal reasons. The way back down was a bit strenuous. We had to carry our brave little trail pup as the heat was getting to him and he was obviously exhausted from the sun/lack of shade. We were expecting low 60s/high 70's but apparently temperatures were in the high 80s/low 90s. Regardless, this is a beautiful trail and we can't wait to try it again and actually reach the lakes. We will be better prepared next time. Beautiful views and awesome elevation~! We'll be back Big Pine Lakes~!! ;)

backpacking
6 days ago

Awesome hike! Sun exposed first half. Lots of snow right now near the top. The lakes are frozen and last 1.5miles to first lake are snow covered. We brought snow shoes but the snow was pretty hard packed. Would recommend snow shoes if you plan on going further than first lake.

hiking
17 days ago

Did the full loop in a snowstorm.
Snowshoed through fresh snow cutting our own path. I highly recommend this trail in the snow, but discourage anyone who doea not have proper gear. The elevation gain is pretty difficult, especially in snowshoes.

Went on 5/7/17
12 hrs
11.5miles
3500ft gain

backpacking
18 days ago

Beautiful place!

18 days ago

1 month ago

Best place to spend a few nights in the summer. Great fishing and access to a glacier!!! Amazing

2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Came out here one weekend one full day hike from 9AM to 5PM. This hike is definitely not for beginners, be prepared to walk quite a bit before the lakes. however, you will see a lot of great scenery before you get to the lakes. we started at the cabins to the lakes and let me tell you, by far the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

we are regular hikers, but this definetly gave us a work out. we do stop a lot and enjoy the scenery more than most though, so that may have affected us a bit. but we'll worth the pain.

moderate to hard level hiking depending on your hiking ability and how you handle altitude.

5 months ago

This trail was beautiful and rewarding! It was a bit confusing on some parts and I got lost twice! So definitely do your research. You take the North Fork the whole way there, the only confusion was how many junctions there are with no signs telling you which way to go. Once you reach the cabin you are halfway there. By time you reach 1st Lake, the others are close in proximity. This is an uphill hike the whole time with a lot of switchbacks, so plan ahead of time if you're a beginner. I did this trail in the winter so there was a lot of ice and a lot of snow, if you have trekking poles, I would bring them. I would rate this trail as moderate and perfect for a day hike, but also perfect scenery and spots for backpacking!

hiking
5 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

backpacking
7 months ago

Once you get up past the first falls, it's not long until you see the stunning massif of the Temple Crag begin to rise over the ridge you're about to climb. It's a good climb, but once you get to Lake 1, the rest come along in short order. Definitely one of the busier trails you'll find, especially with guide companies that will pack up a big group to the lower lakes on horses for some glamping, but it's easy to find a slice of solitude with the amount of options for campsites around all of the lakes. The Temple Crag truly must be seen to be appreciated. The photos are beautiful, but the only response I could muster while standing in it's shadow was, 'Wow'. Also had fun watching a maniac who had climbed the thing descending in the dark by the light of their headlamp, a wonderful reminder that I will always be a little boy among men. We took a day hike, hoping to make it to the Palisade Glacier via the Sam Mack Meadow, but the loose scree and boulders on the way up forced us to turn around. Definitely do a little more research into the best route beforehand, freestyling like we did is not advisable (even with the help of some questionable, if well intentioned, cairns). As a tip, the trail quota was booked for Big Pine Lakes on our trip dates, but after speaking with a ranger, we were able to pull a permit for Baker Lake, and were told we were welcome to make camp anywhere in the general area accessible via the trailhead. Enjoy, and happy adventuring!

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek trail. The hike starts out steep with switchbacks and the first hour of the hike to first falls is entirely in the sun. After reaching the cabin however the trail meanders along the creek, in and out of aspen and pine forests. There are numerous opportunities to refill your water provided you have some type of filter. The views of the lakes are beautiful and 2nd Lake is the most beautiful where the granite meets the aquamarine water. I would rate this hike as moderate to difficult as it has several steep portions but is not rocky like the South Fork.

hiking
8 months ago

We hiked up to fifth lake and completed the loop past black lake and down. I don't recommend this hike for beginners or anyone who gets altitude sickness since some spots have a pretty steep elevation climb. The maps say the loop is 11.3 miles but Strava and Fitbit calculated the loop as 16 miles. After you cross the first bridge by first falls, you can cross over to the fire road (sign points to South Fork Trail) and use that to get up to the switchbacks. It will save your legs for the strenuous parts ahead. (Look on Google Earth for location of the road.) I'm glad we started on this route and caught the 2nd falls on the way back. If you decide to do the entire loop, start on the 1st Lake route and finish towards Black Lake. By the time you get to Black Lake, you'll be thankful for the downhill switchbacks rather than climbing up them. If you make it to 1st lake, keep going to 2nd lake since it's right around the corner. 3rd Lake to 4th lake is the hardest part of the trip and has the steepest climb. Once you make it to 4th lake, 5th lake is very easy walk and worth the jaunt off the main trail. Looking forward to going back in a couple of weeks to complete all 7 lakes.

backpacking
8 months ago

Camped at lake 4 at just a little over 10,000 ft...so no camp fire allowed. It was in mid August. It gets pretty cold, but you get used to it. Was there for 4 nights. Hiked all the way to Lake 7 and to Sam Mack Meadows (A must see). One of my favorite experiences. Really beautiful. Perfect for star gazing.

camping
9 months ago

Awesome view!!!

9 months ago

10 months ago

Wildflowers, streams, and waterfalls!

10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago