Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes

MODERATE 87 reviews
#4 of 122 trails in

Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes is a 7.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bishop, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
980 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

snow

A day hike from the Mosquito Flat trailhead through the Little lakes valley to Morgan Pass. Little lakes valley hike is a beautiful day hike in the eastern sierra that takes you through scenic lakes formed by snow melt. It is a moderately strenuous hike, not due of the elevation gain, but because of being above 10000ft. The trail starts from the Mosquito flat trail head, located at the end of Rock Creek Road, about 10 miles from Hwy 395. The trail head is at an elevation of 10000+ft, so acclimatization at high altitudes will definitely help.

hiking
1 month ago

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!

hiking
2 months ago

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!

hiking
2 months ago

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!

3 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

Epic trail def want to start early

4 months ago

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.

5 months ago

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

backpacking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
6 months ago

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.

backpacking
6 months ago

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!

6 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.

hiking
6 months ago

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.

hiking
7 months ago

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.

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous hike. The river crossing between Box and Long Lakes was difficult especially without poles and after crossing and reaching Long lake the trail is under snow sloping to the lake for a a section. We turned back, crossed back over and took the trail leading to the right which also goes to a nice area on the shore of Long Lake.

hiking
7 months ago

An absolutely beautiful trail with stunning mountain, river and lake views at practically every step. While the elevation gain isn't too bad along the trail, you do start at around 10K ft. Be prepared for the mosquitoes that will greet you as soon as you arrive in the parking lot, then tag along as you hike. Extremely popular with both humans and dogs.

backpacking
7 months ago

Great backpacking trip to Long lake. Original goal was Gem but we were not comfortable with the river crossing between Box and Long lakes. Saw a few people attempt and fall in the water (moving very fast right now). Still lots of snow past Box lake. We tried to navigate around Long Lake back to the trail but were not comfortable with the snow bridges (lots of water underneath and soft snow). Road is open now to the trail head, which means lots of day hikers :(. But we pretty much had Long Lake to ourselves as most day hikers turn around at Box. We found a campsite up on a ledge on the SW side of the lake, facing Morgan pass. Lake refroze overnight, but really perfect temperatures for early summer hiking!

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