Palisade Glacier Trail is a 14.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Big Pine, California that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 14.3 miles Elevation Gain: 4,593 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

rocky

scramble

hiking
7 months ago

Gorgeous trail from start to end; however, there’s a lot of scrambling at the end on rockfall. Be careful not to lose the trail. This hike features a panoramic view of all of the lakes in Big pine, frozen waterfalls, several mountains, a stream cut meadow, and the Palisade Glacier. Absolutely stunning

hiking
8 months ago

This is a six-star trail to me, that or I have to lower some of my scores for other trails. Seriously, visually stunning and picturesque the whole way. Trail starts near Big Pine Creek campground, which on a side note is a great place to stay, and snakes up past some awesome waterfalls, then the trail splits between a high trail and a low trail, the high trail has less switchbacks, the lower trail is slightly more scenic, either way follow the map from this site and there are signs. You go through a neat valley and when you look up you can see a waterfall in the distance, you'll soon climb to that waterfall through some switchbacks. You'll then follow the creek along and you hit Lon Chaney's cabin, great place for a break, the stream has trout in it, we fished it for a bit - they didn't want what we were offering so we continued. After that you climb up and hit the lakes, First Lake, Second Lake, and Third Lake, we camped at Third Lake, better spots there. Next day we headed out, trail splits between Glacier Trail and 4th/5th Lake Trail. Taking the Glacier Trail takes you down through a scenic meadow and then up again before hitting Sam Mack meadow which is awesome, very green, lush, great photo spot, would be cool for camping too. Rest here because you then climb rapidly the rest of the way. From here it gets rocky too, soon you are in a full on rock scramble the rest of the way, try to loosely follow the All Trails map and then try to follow the cairns but honestly this is tough as well. Bottom line, look up, that ridge line way up there is where you are going, pick the least punishing/dangerous route and scramble up. We were hitting 12k' and despair as our legs were burning but two guys coming down told us we were on track and really close so that got us refocused. The 'summit' is actually just a ridge line that overlooks the glacier bowl, you can continue to hike around to the top of the glacier but we were smoked and needed to get back so we ate some food, took pics, and admired the awesome scenery. This trail is the real deal, very scenic and tough at the end. One of my favorites.

hiking
8 months ago

Fun and beautiful hike with nice scramble at the end. Not convinced about that alltrails direction -> follow the cairns! Great view, great adventure, very fun.

hiking
private property
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Variety of scrambling. Deet necessary in a few spots on the lower trail.

hiking
9 months ago

AllTrails indicate mileage as 14 but we clock in at 20 due to we explore other lakes as well. It was a day hike we took our time. There were mosquitoes but not as bad as mineret lake. The trail has lots of incline and switchbacks esp towards the end. Towards the top requires rock scrambling. Some parts of the trail was sketchy due to being cover in snow. Overall if you like a challenge I highly recommend this trail. It’s a beautiful scenic trail.

hiking
no shade
9 months ago

I’m getting scared just looking at the map! I’ll test the waters Tuesday when we get there , and let you know how we do ! Really excited tho!

9 months ago

Above Sam Mack Meadows the trail is mostly uphill leading to a lot of boulder scrambling...slow progress. Only one of our party of five made it to where he could see the glacier. Will try it again some day!

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked to the east rim of the glacier on Aug 3, 2019. 6.5 miles from the trailhead to the turn off from the main trail to head up to Sam Mack meadow. About 0.8 miles from the turnoff to Sam Mack meadow. Very little snow on the trail. From Sam Mack meadow cross the creek then head up the west side mountain via the trail. After reaching the high point that overlooks Sam Mack Meadow, head east on the trail. Portions of the trail were snow covered so best to have GPS to stay on the trail. I used microspikes for several sections along this portion. As you near the east side of the glacier, the trail disappears and you are led through about 100 yards of a boulder field via cairns. After that it is a steep ascent up granite slabs to the rim - staying on the granite avoids the snowy areas. You can continue up the granite slab to a high point on the rim or go directly to the rim and hike along the rim up to a place to see the glacier. Tremendous views all along the trail.

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Backpacked in for a 4 day stay. camped at 2nd lake and day hiked to the glacier. the trail to Sam Mac meadow was entirely clear of snow after the meadow, there was some snow on the trail, but nothing you can't work around. We did fine with 2 dogs and 3 8-12 yr old kids. once you get to the upper meadow you arrive at the most beautiful upper meadow. would be a great place to camp just below the glacier. we didn't hike up the final mile due to the need for snow shoews or crampons. the snow is pretty deep there. They say it is like May in July this year. Highly recommend it! pack LOTS of Mosquito repellant. they arrived thick right now.

hiking
scramble
snow
11 months ago

06/29/2019 The five stars is for difficulty. The trail to the second lake is mostly clear, but as soon as you get to the fork to the glacier, everything is under snow and it becomes really difficult to navigate. We made it to the three lake view point but beyond that kept losing the trail because of snow. Eventually, we had to turn back because it was taking way too long and progress was really slow. I personally got demolished by altitude sickness so watch out for that too.

hiking
Thu May 23 2019

This was an adventure and then some. It was a slow access due to the snow and grade. Took a few hours to get to the glacier but, it was worth the breathtaking views.

hiking
Sat May 18 2019

Hard to beat the scenic payoff that this trail offers, even if I did have to hike it in snow from the Ranger's summer lodge on up without spikes or crampons...still one of my favorite day hikes ever.

hiking
Fri Apr 26 2019

Awesome views

Fri Dec 21 2018

This was one of the best trails I’ve ever done. August 2017. Still holds true today.

hiking
Sun Sep 23 2018

Did this hike on Sept 3, 2018. It was one of the most picturesque hikes I’ve ever done. First and Second Lake were breathtakingly beautiful. Hubby and I turned around at Second Lake because storm clouds were headed our way and we didn’t want to hike back down in the rain in the dark. A few of our friends were able to get camping permits and stayed overnight to climb Temple Crag. They got up 6 pitches and came back down because storm clouds were approaching. Can’t wait to come back.

hiking
Sun Sep 23 2018

Hiked to the glacier from 3rd lake on a recent backpacking trip in late August. We did not anticipate the amount of bouldering required at the last leg toward the glacier. At this point, the trail is no longer marked besides some cairns so be sure pay attention on your route so you can return the way you came. Be cautious following the rock cairns as people have put them off trail and we made the mistake of following some to basically a very steep rocky slope that my husband and I did not feel comfortable descending. Very easy to get off trail heading back down from the bouldering section so pay attention!! :) Otherwise, a wonderful hike with an amazing reward at the end. The glacier was stunning and a great back drop for a snack before heading back.

hiking
Wed Sep 05 2018

It was more of a 17.5 Miles hike on my end from Glacier Lodge. So not sure how people pulled it off with a 15 mile log. Wish I was a bit more forewarn about the mile of steep scrambling on boulders and loose rock at the end to the glacier (so makes for a total of 2 miles of scrambling including the way back). Definitely a beautifully hike with lots of scenic surprises and route challenges. I would recommended it to people with good fitness and comfortable scrambling skills - otherwise you’re forewarned!

Thu Aug 30 2018

Good times. Ditch the heavy pack though. Lots of water.

hiking
Mon May 07 2018

Went this past week...very beautiful!! A lot of snow and very deep but totally awesome!

hiking
Fri Jan 19 2018

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.

backpacking
Tue Sep 26 2017

Gorgeous hike! Only made it to first lake, but it was quite an experience. It was a long uphill, but not too strenuous. It was cold tho. Snow flurries for both evenings we were there.

Thu Sep 14 2017

one of the most beautiful hikes/views in California. Will be doing annually. Aug is best

hiking
Thu Aug 24 2017

Day hiked to the glacier. It didn't even feel like a long hike beacuse everything was so beautiful I couldn't stop going. Any mile stretch of this trail would be worth hiking 10 miles to by itself, it's crazy that it's all on one trail. I don't think it's actually 17.2 miles I think it's more like 15.5. The boulder field at the end can be a little challenging to navigate on the way back.

Tue Apr 04 2017

If you make it back here you know what's up! Except for those dang cheating pack train people.

Thu Mar 17 2016

Very beautiful and an easy day hike.

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