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Thousand Island Lake via Rush Creek Trail

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Ansel Adams Wilderness

Thousand Island Lake via Rush Creek Trail is a 18 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near June Lake, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length18.0 miElevation gain3,881 ftRoute typeOut & back
BackpackingCampingFishingHikingDog friendlyForestLakeRiverViewsWaterfallWildflowersWildlifeRocky
Description
Waypoints (4)

FIRE CLOSURE: As of February 2021 there are closures in this park or area due to wildfire. For more information, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD839166 Thousand Island Lake is one of the most beautiful points along the John Muir Trail. There are many different approaches you can take to reach it, and several other beautiful lakes on the way (Silver, Agnew, Clark, etc). This route starts at the Rush Creek camping area parking lot and eventually connects to the Spooky Meadows and Pacific Crest Trails. The first two miles are tough but then it gets easier after that. There are three creek crossings, including Rush Creek. Microspikes and trekking poles are highly recommended during the winter. A permit is required if you wish to stay overnight on this trail, but it is a stunning place to stay.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (133)
Photos (720)
Activities (86)
Completed (371)
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Jacqui Moore
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 4, 2021
BackpackingBugsGreat!MuddyOff trailRockyScrambleSnow
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michael cameli
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Hiking
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Sertan Usanmaz
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HikingGreat!

Awesome trail, great views and a killer workout! Make sure you take plenty of water and sunscreen. Feel free to follow me on my Instagram account for more dope hiking adventures! @sertanusanmaz

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Stefan V.
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Hiking
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Willow Green
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Hiking

A nice relax trail

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Maureen Welsh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 13, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

What an epic trip. We started at the Rush Creek parking lot (next to an RV park). First couple of miles are steep and fully exposed so be prepared with sun protection and plenty of water (lake at the very top but not easy to get water for filtering). Gorgeous views so make sure to look all around you as you slog up the hill. Once you get past mile 2, the going gets easier, but, it was a long day once we reached 1000 island lk. Well worth the effort. water

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Ashley Macatangay
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Backpacking
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Sarah Rubin
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Hiking

went to thousand islands via rush creek, camped, and then cut across to gem lakenon the way back 10/10. wish I had had time to do donohue pass. super hot and dry. the nights are pretty chilly though.

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Zeyuan Chen
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Hiking

Hiked on 8/22/2020 from the less popular Rush Creek Trail Head and reached the Thousand Islands Lake in the late afternoon. The first few miles to reach Gem Lake are very steep, extremely rocky and exposed. There are horses carrying stuff for workers on the dams on the Gem and Agnew lake, which kinda take away some of the ‘wilderness’ and nature part of the trail. Views are half blocked by the smoke in the Sierra now caused by the fire. Too bad there is no alpenglow the day we visited, otherwise it will be spectacular. At this time of the year there is not a single mosquito at any of the lakes or campsites along the trail. If I were to do this trip a agin I would recommend early summer around late May or early June when there are more snow on the banner peak, not a whole lot bugs and smaller chance of smoke in the Sierra. Alternatively, maybe hiking in the the Fall, around early or mid October when all the leaves pick up color.

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Patrick Charbonneau
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Backpacking

Came up the rush creek trail to gem lake, stayed the night along rush creek then passed by waugh and made it to thousand island lake for two nights. Great trip. Recommend starting early like others have said once the sun is up it will be hot and steep for the beginning. Rained in the afternoons at thousand island lake but not for too long.

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Laura D'Aiello
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HikingGreat!
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Christine Sunshine
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BackpackingBugsNo shadeRocky

Tough, rocky, sun exposed trail. Bring enough water and don't start too late! If you bring fido I would recommend paw wax or shoes. My dog is pretty tough, hikes with me all the time and while a 70 mile trip did nothing to her paws, the rocky section of this trail actually got her! I personally would recommend hiking to Waugh Lake instead of Thousand Island or even hike to Waugh Lake and than to Thousand Island if you want to add more miles https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/agnew-lake-gem-lake-waugh-lake-and-clark-lakes-loop-trail. It's a loop. Waugh Lake is way better for swimming and has less mosquitos. The distance and elevation is about the same but the trail itself is way more enjoyable. Have fun!

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Junnan Liu
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HikingNo shadeRocky

The scenery from Clark Lake to 1000 island lake is a kill. Pretty good camping experience and will definitely do it again through another trail. We both wouldn’t rate this specific trail too high because there’s multiple ways to 1000 island lakes and this one is not our best choice. We didn’t know these choices until talk with camping person... 1. This is a short cut relatively, thus high elevation gain, very rocky and lots of stone. It might influence your ankle on the way back. 2. Main reason: I really hate the horse shit smell. It’s everywhere at the beginning part and extremely strong. It’s very dusty when horses pass by you. I’m not sure if it’s a recent thing. But my mood wasn’t very high at these parts.

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Lindsay Moss
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Hiking

If you are wondering like I was, ‘hm, can I do this as a day hike if I’m not in incredible shape?’ I say go for it. Don’t get me wrong, the ascent is long but switchbacks are forgiving and there’s no bouldering. The 18 mi is contested, other reviews and the map say 14. Whatever the miles, with the benefit of only a daypack, they flew by and the lake is breathtaking. Left before 8am, there by noon (no stopping). Another 3.5 down. Going early ended up being a good decision- got one of the last spots in the official lot and lake was suuuper quiet upon arrival (more through and day hikers were trickling in later). Note. due to covid, like everywhere, it’s busier than usual (so locals say). Official car camping in area is scarce.

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Gary Pietryk
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BackpackingBugsGreat!No shadeRocky

3 day/2 night Rush Creek Trail head to Thousand Island Lake loop. Kinda created our own loop with this one clocking in at around 21mi. Started Friday at 2pm at the Rush Creek Trailhead across from Silver Lake campground. Luckily it was a cloudy afternoon as we took a left at the Gem lake fork and went up the steep rocky section on our way out. This was an aggressive first day with close to 3k elevation in 4 miles. Arrived Thousand Island lake around 7:30p - The ranger does enforce where you can camp so make sure the spot you pick is far enough from the water and impacted surface and you have your permits. Beautiful sunset and sunrise at thousand Island wish we had stayed an extra day there. Day Two we hiked about 5 ish miles towards Gem lake but stopped about 45 min short at a super nice campsite by a creek and trail intersections (fires were allowed here). Day 3 was the hike out about 6mi around Gem lake and back down to the trail head. Our husky did great so if you have a trail dog bring em.

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Stephanie Patton
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HikingRockyScramble
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Justine Folloso
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HikingBugsRocky

My friends and I went backpacking for 3 days, 2 nights. This is a hard trail. We parked and started the trail at Silver Lake. Took the Rush Creek trail. The steep part of this trail doesn’t have that many shades and it’s rocky. Also there’s a lot of switch backs. But when you plateau the trail gets super easy. We dedicated one day hiking to Thousand Island Lake. Then spent another whole day at the lake. Watch out for the weather because it’s changes even during summertime. It gets sunny in the morning, then it rains in the afternoon. You don’t have to worry about running out of water during the hike because there’s so many water source. This is beautiful hike with lots of view. Thousand Island Lakes is amazing. Make sure to wake up early in the morning to catch the sunrise.

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