Rush Creek to Clark Lakes to Thousand Island Lake

MODERATE 1 reviews
#31 of 38 trails in

Rush Creek to Clark Lakes to Thousand Island Lake is a 25.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near June Lake, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is best used from September until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
25.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6,640 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

trail running

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
5 months ago

The Hike up to Gem Lake is a constant uphill, but well maintained trail. Lots of day hikers and people entering the high country. Agnew lake and Gem Lake are impressive, but unfortunately, they just have a reservoir feel. However, getting a glimpse of the entire hydroelectric works with old buildings, railtracks and old style reservoir buttress style dam is a throw back to a bygone era and fascinating when all taken together. At Agnew Lake we got a glimpse of the way down from the Spooky Meadows trail and it was impressive to get an idea of what we were instore for.

Our goal was to keep our camp two nights at Clark Lakes and day hike a loop up to thousand Island Lake. Clark Lakes are very picturesque, multiple places to set up camp, but most are close to the trail. Due to the late date in the season we encountered absolutely no mosquitoes, I am sure that in July there must have been alot, as the lakes are shallow with still water in many places.

The hike to Thousand Island lake from Clark Lakes is fantastic, each vista and view is better then the next with Banner Peak and Mt Ritter as the backdrop. At the junction with the JMT you encounter lots of people, up until then, from Gem lake to Clark Lakes to Thousand Island we had seen just about no one. However this section of the JMT is really stunning. we went south from Thousand Island to Garnet Lake and the trail was well maintained and just a joy to take in and hike.

At Garnet lake across the bridge ( once again a congregation spots for many hikers) we went east and down the trail next to the outlet falls to hook up with the river trail along the San Joaquin River. This little tail is poorly marked and poorly maintained, a fun pleasant scramble, but we left scratching our heads wondering if we were on the correct trail. However once on the river trail going north we were amazed. The river trail is really just a very sweet trail with great canyon wall views to the left as you ascend back up to the PCT.

Back at Clark lake we were able to find a great spot to enjoy the sierra sunset and get tremendous views just a 5 minute walk from our camp. we could see the orange glow off the mountains in Yosemite towards Mono Pass or east towards Banner peak.

The next day was the trip down, going through Spooky Meadows. Any place called Spooky Meadows just can't be passed up. The trail towards Spooky Meadows is a gentle upward climb with views and scenery that just keeps getting better and better. Mono lake occasionally comes into view, you hike through bristle cone forests go along the delightful Sullivan Lake. Then starts the climb down, down, down. The trail is very steep,but if you take your time quite is manageable with stunning views. We loved every minute of the hike back down to Agnew Lake, but were happy to make the decision to hike down this trail and not up it. The hike up would have been brutal with a full pack. Spooky Meadow trail has become one of my favorites and I already wish I had spent more time hanging out and explore Spooky Meadows. One of the pleasant things about this trail is to have a typical Eastern Sierra stream running along the trail with wildflowers and the scents of wild oregano and sage waif up through the air. We did not encounter any other people on the Spooky Meadow trail. It is hard to get to, but should be on your list of trails to hike.

We encountered light rains in the afternoon, and clear star filled nights with very little wind. We probably had the clearest air of the summer and the smoke from the recent fires had all cleared out.