Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake

MODERATE 59 reviews
#11 of 98 trails in

Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake is a 4.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near June Lake, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.2 miles
1,332 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




nature trips







wild flowers


18 days ago

Started late morning and definitely felt the lack of shade while hiking the uphill switchbacks. Didn’t climb up the tram/cable car tracks - looked a little sketchy. Lake at the top isn’t the most beautiful alpine lake I’ve ever seen, but we saw lots of wildflowers and a few small waterfalls on the way up that made it worth it.

23 days ago

Solid hike with plenty going on around you. Had an afternoon to fill in (late June). Left from the start of trail behind RV park at 4pm which turned out to be great timing as the shadow of the mountain was starting to cover the track (30 degrees celsius.) Not much tree shade so take sun protection if you are doing this of a hot day.
2 waterfalls seen. Also family of deer closer to RV park!
Although tempting to ignore signs and walk up tracks for power station trolley I would advise against as some of the tracks pass on very narrow passes and I also noticed some squashed grass on tracks that looked way too consistent to be from peoples feet so I think that the trolley is still active. I have seen some people complain of the power station at the outlet of Agnew lake but I loved this section!
Continued until I could see the dam wall of Gem Lake then turned back at 5.45pm, I was only carrying a light pack. Allow more time if carrying camping gear.
Next time I would continue up to Gem lake and beyond if time allowed it.

1 month ago

Beautiful views. Loved it.

2 months ago

All I can say is wow! This Trail starts off at a nice gentle slope for about 1 mile, after that be prepared for some serious altitude gain. I did this hike in May 2018 and the mountains surrounding the trail were still covered in snow. there was a small river running across the trail which require waterproof boots and some careful footing. If you're looking for a real leg workout about halfway up you will come across a set of railroad tracks that were used for a pulley car to haul supplies up to the dam. You can take this track up to the dam but your legs better be in excellent shape. I measured a 37 degree incline.
I continued on to Gem Lake and it was worth the extra time and effort.

8 months ago

Perfect day for a perfect long hike (note: We continued to the far side of Gem Lake, 5 miles in from the trailhead and 5 miles back.......but if this hike isn’t rated “Hard”, I can’t imagine what would be. So to call it "Moderate" is a bit of an understatement, IMHO. However to think of it or categorize it as “Hard" might scare away a few hikers, and in truth this climb is do-able by most. Lots of loose rocks and scree. Hiking shoes or boots highly recommended. Advice: When in doubt the trails goes UP, (except on the way back, LOL)

9 months ago

Wow. It is October and the colors are incredible right now. We headed up at 10am. It was hot at first then got windy and cold at Agnew. The dam was quite a site. The trail is easy to follow and maintained. It is noted as MODERATE but for me it was tougher. The altitude to begin with and the elevation climbing was what made it tough for me (I have two new stem cell treated knees!).

The weather was perfect.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Monday, July 03, 2017

This trail is...OK. It has some nice views and the getting up closer to horsetail falls is pretty awesome, but if you're going to do this hike in the summer go early. Literally no shade the entire way. First time I've hiked where I've seen people carrying umbrellas. Should've been my first clue!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Solid but very mild gain in elevation, They were working at Agnew and had the trails to the lake taped off, went past to Gem lake. Views of Horse Tail Falls is amazing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beautiful hike. Nice steady incline all the way to the lake. Waterfalls were intense and view of the valley and Silver Lake were breath taking. The only negative is you hike above the lake and don't really have a chance to get down next to lake Agnew. Continue to Gem lake I suppose. Greatly enjoyed and the pup loved it as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Was a great hike!

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

6-5-17 Pretty fantastic, and varied as far as scenery. We went up as far Gem, and there was a harry water crossing and some snow shelves that had to be crossed as well. I happened to have an ice axe, which helped as I had a dog on leash. A perfect moderate hike.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Started this trail Sunday, June 4th. Beautiful day but a bit hot in the trail since it has little shade and is very exposed. Wasn't planning on taking it all the way to Agnew Lake, just Horsetail Falls. Unfortunately we encountered the new seasonal waterfall on the trail and had to turn back. Ran into 4 others who turned back there also, but also 2 men who successfully crossed it. I think we could have made it, but not with our medium dog in tow. Great trail though with amazing views the whole time, including of Horsetail Falls once you get about a mile in. Will tackle it again later in the season and hopefully take it all the way to the lakes. It's well marked. We did encounter some snow patches that won't be there long.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

9 May 2017 Perhaps a bit early in this year after all the drought busting snow. We tried this yesterday and only got a mile or so up before having to abandon because of a tumultuos seasonal waterfall. But it was worth it for the views and a great acclimatiser to the altitude. We also had to negotiate some snowfields on our way up.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Keep going past Agnew lake if you're going to do this trail!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

the views of banner Peak were incredible we hiked all the way to Island pass Thousand Island Lake what a beauty

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hiked this trail twice to Gem Lake. Once was backpacking/camping and the other time was with my 5 and 10 year old. July was absolutely beautiful/great weather. September was just as beautiful but overcast with slight rain. My kids can't wait to go back again, this is our new favorite trail!

Both times hiked up the tracks to cut out the switchbacks, but beware, it is a steep climb if you go that route!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Great trail! I took it to Agnew Lake and enjoyed the water and great views along the way. It's quite a climb up, but I thought it was worth it once I reached the lakes. There's not much shade so come prepared for that. Yes there was horse poop, but it wasn't too bad. There are tracks for a little rail car on the trail to Agnew Lake. I didn't think it was still operational and hiked them instead of the trail for a short while near the top. BEWARE! It's still in operation and I was surprised by the car as it came down. Fun hike.

Monday, August 01, 2016

My husband and I left Rush Creek with our husky up to Agnew Lake. The hike was a challenge and we took short breaks and talked with other hikers. The view of Silver Lake and waterfalls were beautiful. Next we took Spooky Meadows which has a moderate rating but let me tell you, it's difficult. We hiked up around 5 miles total that day and by the time we got to Clarks Lakes, we were exhausted! The next day we stayed on Spooky Meadows to hit up Gem Lake making one giant loop. Gem Lake was pretty but the horses leave the trail with tons of road apples which make it smelly and draw an enormous amount of flies. This was our first backpacking/hike and I wouldn't recommend it for first timers. I'm grateful for the beauty and the ability to take my dog. We wanted to go to Garnet Lake but decided that coming down Spooky Meadows was dangerous without trekking poles. Next time, we'll leave from Agnew Meadows to avoid the crazy elevation. Happy Trails

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This trail is a great example of the goal being worth the work. We only stayed one night at Gem Lake, but it was beautiful. We started out of Silverlake, and the 3 miles to Gem was exposed and hot. For that effort, next time we plan on staying longer in the higher parts, checking out more of the lakes.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Beautiful. The Rush Creek Trailhead is near the Silver Lake RV Park and we took it to Agnew Lake. It is a beautiful trail with the bonus of three waterfalls on the way (in June), the trail is sunny and challenging but in good shape.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I have hiked the Rush Creek trail since the 1980's. This is a spectacular area. I took a solo day hike to 1,000 Island Lake back in June (my hike was about 16 miles roundtrip). I loved it, but have a few words of advice about the trails:

Rush Creek trail begins with a very steep climb up to Agnew Lake. It is almost entirely along a granite cliffside with some truly beautiful views of the glacial valley that holds the June Lake Loop. Take note of this, backpackers, you will definitely feel the rapid elevation gain during this portion of the hike! Once you get to Agnew Lake, a fairly unpleasant industrial looking area with views of two dams and heavy equipment, you can choose to keep going to Gem Lake or take the shortcut trail to Clark Lakes that intersects the main trail just below the dam. Don't let this small stretch of unappealing area get you down; there are gorgeous vistas coming your way very soon.

I do NOT recommend taking the shortcut trail to Clark Lakes if you are a solo hiker. The trail is steep and very sketchy at times. It often disappears at critical moments, like when fording the fast moving stream on the steep cliff (even during this drought). I can recommend this trail if you are with friends as it does take two or three miles off the distance, but if you are alone I advise against it. You can reach Clark Lakes via the easier Rush Creek trail, but it adds additional mileage as it goes around Gem Lake.

However you get there, the trail from Clark Lakes into the Minarets is wonderful. It is easy to follow, moderate in elevation gain/loss and very well marked. I think the Ansel Adams Wilderness is the prettiest area in the Sierra Nevada. If you can make it to 1,000 Island Lake or any of the other lakes in the region you will be greeted with stunning views of Ritter, Banner, and all the other spires.

This is a beautiful trail for the most part. But do your homework and practice your aerobics! It will take you to beautiful places, but it doesn't let you in easily!

Monday, July 13, 2015

I have hiked this (back in 2012) probably about eight times when I worked in the area. There is almost NO SHADE on the way up except for a couple of trees that make a nice stop. Yes it does parallel the road for a bit but I never thought of that as a problem. I knew once I got a couple miles up the trail by Horsetail Falls (which is probably not a big deal in the major drought 2015 but otherwise is quite impressive) the road noise is long gone and you are at the edge of the best part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. You pass the AAW sign about a mile from the trailhead and get great views back down to Silver Lake, over June Lake and all the way out to Mono Lake eventually.

Agnew Lake is probably a disappointment again because of a lack of water. Once you get to Agnew, keep hiking up to Gem Lake for a standard day, or if you are not afraid of a very fast 1000 foot climb, cross Rush Creek below the Agnew Lake dam, head west along the south side of the lake and you will see a nasty very steep trail with maybe 15 switchbacks(?) I forget. This gets you up to Spooky Meadows and is the quickest way to the John Muir Trail and PCT.

Once up in Spooky Meadows, it's easy to lose the trail which starts to parallel the meadow on the west side before turning up the hill to Clark Lakes. At this point you will have climbed almost 3000 feet from 7246 at the trailhead to over 10000 as you crest above Spooky Meadows.

Not for the faint-hearted, we mere mortals should stick to the main trail on the north side of Agnew Lake. No you are not allowed to row across the lake in the power company barges :)

Also I read a note somewhere that the parking may be restricted due to some construction give a call to the local ranger and inquire if you are worried.

Bottom line if you are looking for a faster easier more rewarding hike and can take some climbing I would hike the Yost Lake trail, the branch that starts at the June Lake Firehouse (across the street, right next to the main campground in town, June Lake USFS Campground). That's a very rewarding trail but still steep. If you are looking for something mellower look at Parker Lake but I never hiked that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Went to explore the Inyo wilderness area when the forrest fires were taking over yosemite (our original plans) but it ended up being quite an enjoyable trip. Took this trailhead up to Agnew Lake and Gem Lake. The climb from Silver lake up to Agnew lake is BRUTAL. I went through almost 4L of water and had never been so happy to set up camp when I arrived at Gem Lake. But it was SO WORTH IT because the lake-view sunrise in the morning was one of the most spectacular I've seen :)
Didn't see any bears but saw quite a few deer down the rush creek trail. My friend caught some fish down in Blue Lake and Webber Lake, but not much.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Hot, dry day, no shade (really, there's NO shade). The first mile of the hike is literally next to the road, although you continue to climb higher and higher, you still hear road noise, not ideal for a Sierra hike.

The trail is very loose, VERY narrow, and filled with horse manure. I've hiked a lot of Sierra trails and most have some manure, but this trail was awful. When we arrived at Agnew Lake, the water level was down 20 feet, quite sad, and we actually walked in the lake and next to the damn/hydroelectric facility. A trickle of water ran into the damn. Next stop was Silver Lake, beautiful views, but quite windy on this day. We decided to turn around and not hike any further.

This trail may be okay in late Spring or early Fall, although once again, no trees. You must hike past Silver Lake and onto the next lake, before any quantity of trees is visible.

For us, this was a one-time experience, and never again. There are too many other gorgeous trails to spend our time on.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Very easy hike. Just went Oct. 31. 2013, It would have been a nice hike to see the fall leaves before they dropped...

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