Norris Trailhead to Jackass Lakes

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Sierra National Forest

Norris Trailhead to Jackass Lakes is a 5.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Oakhurst, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and fly fishing and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,259 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

camping

fishing

hiking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

rocky

Short a little steep, but overall fairly easy. Well marked and maintained trail, except the last quarter or half mile is on bald face mountain. Beautiful lakes to explore all around (make it to Burro Lk, so pretty). Great fishing. Can hike to and from Madera Peak from Lower Jackass Lk in a day.

hiking
rocky
4 days ago

backpacking
6 days ago

Fantastic trail. We spent the night at lower jackass lake. Hike was mostly uphill and there are some parts of the trail you may need to do a little bit of scrambling (especially near a rocky mountain area as you approach your final ascent to Jackass lake). Overall, very little bugs, plenty of water, hardly any crowds, and AMAZING views! Was not too chilly or windy where we camped Worth noting... the last 20-30 min drive up to the Norris Trailhead is pretty rough. I don't have an AWD/4x4, and had moments I was concerned I was going to get stuck in all the loose dirt and gravel. Totally doable, but just be ready for a bumpy road if you plan to start at Norris Trailhead).

hiking
rocky
snow
11 days ago

Almost the whole trail was up hill. It was also a little early in the year to do this hike. It was very cold and windy. However beautiful views along the way. We did have to stop and turn around. There was still now and we lost the trail. If you are not used to hiking an incline this will be a little difficult. We will definitely be back.

hiking
9 months ago

Good for a quick day hike! Took two friends who are not accustomed to hiking and they could hang. Bring bug spray!

hiking
bugs
rocky
snow
10 months ago

hiking
bugs
closed
washed out
10 months ago

Completed this trail on July 7th 2019. Overall a great hike didn’t see anyone on the trail. Initially the trail was a little hard to find and follow as most of it was semi washed out. But once you got a hang for the trail it wasn’t bad. It was a little buggy at the first small lake and the camping spot at jackass lake was closed for restoration. But the views on top of the lake where worth it.

hiking
10 months ago

I'm a huge fan of backpacking this area due to fewer crowds than Yosemite but beauty that almost rivals it. There are hidden waterfalls everywhere in the early season. The mosquitoes were just starting to come out but it wasn't terrible over July 4th weekend yet. Streams and falls along the trail out of Norris were quite full due to late snow. There was still snow on the trail, and some parts got pretty slick. We camped up at Lower Jackass Lake, and it got really cold at night. Stargazing was incredible since we had an almost new moon. This is a nice short hike, but steep and rocky in some areas, with lots of downed trees, so it's not the easiest to navigate, but worth it.

Mon Oct 22 2018

Hiked the lower Lake two weeks ago and loved it. Hope to do the upper Lake soon.

hiking
Tue Aug 14 2018

Great group hike. Fair amount of boulder hopping, thankful for those dreaded squats!

fishing
Sat Jul 14 2018

The trail was relatively easy to follow, with a few strenuous parts along the way. Fishing was great along Norris creek (Brook and German Brown trout) and in Jackass lake (Rainbow trout).

backpacking
Mon Jun 11 2018

We went up a couple of weeks ago, it was my first overnight backpacking trip in 30 years. The dirt road to the trailhead was really rutted up (doable in a Subaru Outback), but the trail was well worth it. We stayed at the middle lake and I caught two rainbows.

backpacking
Wed Aug 30 2017

Can some advise on overnight permits and how to obtain?

hiking
Tue Sep 13 2016

Arriving at Jackass Lakes was so rewarding. It had such a beautiful serenity after traipsing through the forest. The first part of the trail was easily marked, but it wasn't the most obvious spotting the creek bend you had to make a first left at - that if you didn't would take you to another trail. Beyond this point, the trail was helpfully marked with a combination of twig arrows on the ground and two stacked rocks (we contributed to a few on the return to help other novices like ourselves and felt like forest elves). When we arrived at the first little lake, we had thought it was Jackass but too small, then recalled the map and realised it was a pond-like distraction just a touch too early, so we continued on. Arriving at the bare rock face was confusing, the path upwards was a bit of guesswork because there wasn't one necessarily but the view from the top was amazing. We eventually heard water and ventured forward to find the lake beyond some trees. It felt like such a discovery and it was simply beautiful. Definitely a moderate hike for a newbie like me - my heart rate maintained a good cardio rate and at times soared during the long stretches of gradual uphill. So worth it.

Mon Jul 27 2015

I did this trail with my dad when I was 16 and loved every minute of it. Going back at 26 with my best friend we had to take the Jackass 4wd road which is now a trailhead because my sedan couldn't make it down the dirt road to the Norris Creek Trailhead. The Jackass trailhead is about 2 miles before Norris and is a much more difficult trail to take in. The entire hike is uphill and not always clearly marked going up to the lower lake. Once past the lower lake there is no longer a trail and you are scaling mountain faces to get up to Middle and Upper Jackass. Pay attention to the rock stacks to lead you in and out of the lake areas. If you can, make it to Burro, the views looking down on Upper Jackass are stunning.

hiking
Mon Aug 04 2014

At first junction near the creek go LEFT! Otherwise you'll end up on the Fernandez trail, and an extra 1.5MI hike ....After you pass Norris Lake you have to carve your own trail up the granite face. Locals spot, so if you're a clueless tourist or a #jackass, don't bother. Cheers!

camping
Mon Jul 14 2014

Backpacked in for 2 nights to Lower Jackass Lake. Lake is beautiful. There's rocks on the back corner of the lake you can jump off of into the lake. Water feels good. Fishing was pretty good and everyone caught some fish even if they weren't fishing much. I caught 9, 10, 10, 12 inch trout. Most of the trout were pretty small being that 10 inch was a larger one on average. We did see some that looked like 14 inches jumping but we didn't catch that those. Maybe next time. The hike up is tough when you're carrying a 40 lb pack. Took us 3.5 hours up. Down took us 1.5 hours. If you're just doing a day hike without a pack, you can probably do 1.5 hours up and 45 minutes down without too much effort. It was not too cold at night so you can probably bring a lighter sleeping bag. You will need a jacket of sweatshirt for the evenings, but probably not something super heavy. During the day it was sunny when you're out from underneath the trees. The wind would pick up for about 15 minutes then die back down for 45 minutes about all day so bring chap-stick. We will probably make this trip and annual thing for our family.

hiking
7 months ago

backpacking
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

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