Valentine Lake Trail

MODERATE 168 reviews
#9 of 66 trails in

Valentine Lake Trail is a 9.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mammoth Lakes, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 9.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,909 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

fishing

hiking

nature trips

running

forest

lake

river

views

wildlife

snow

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely amazing! We took our time enjoying every moment of this hike. Valentine lake is stunning. The trail is well marked and not as strenuous as I was expecting. We did have our dog with us and he did great. Defiantly recommend this trail!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail and the fall colors are coming out. We camped ¾ of the way up and it was all good. There’s a campsite at both valentine and sherwin lakes so it’s pretty easy to find a place to put up for the night. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is cause my watch recorded 10.4mi round trip.

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

What an awesome hike!

hiking
3 months ago

We took it real slow as we’re not used to the elevation and slow but steady did the trick: I didn’t find the trail overly strenuous. We did the hike at the end of September and there was some snow and a few patches of ice on the trail and an icy wind blowing at Lake Valentine. It still was a very beautiful hike with some wonderful views.

hiking
4 months ago

Too windy for any bugs! Beautiful scenery, a few flowers and not crowded, would definitely do again.

hiking
5 months ago

Just me and dogs

backpacking
bugs
5 months ago

Did this as a 3 day backpacking trip. Although this wasn’t my first, it was for my dog and she did great. I would recommend this as a first time backpacking trip. Trail had a steady incline and the last mile to Valentine Lake was a bit of a push with a bunch of switchbacks. Carried in about 30-35lbs. My dog carried in about 7-8lbs. A few running streams along the route to filter water. Tons of mosquitoes but I’m sure you’ll read that a million times in the reviews. Make sure to lather on the deet and use a mosquito head net. It helped when lounging around camp. The campsite location at Valentine Lake was one large site. If you’re there alone it’s perfect, if not, you may have some neighboring tents. Also, Sherwin Lakes on the way up is where most of everyone was doing their camping. From the looks of it, there were far more spots to choose from to set up camp there. Overall, great hike with the most beautiful views in all directions. 5 stars because I lived to tell it and survived the mosquito apocalypse. Instagram : @hiking.honey

hiking
bugs
5 months ago

The trail and destination were beautiful! After Sherwin Lakes, the mosquitos and biting flies got a little aggressive, prompting a jog on the return journey. Our gps logged just over 10 miles from the trailhead. Bring bug spray and trail beers! A water filter will save on water weight too.

hiking
5 months ago

Did this trail Aug 10, really enjoyed this from bottom to top and bottom again. Would highly recommend. The first part up to Sherwin Lakes is all uphill and mostly switchbacks, but generally a gradual incline. Sherwin Lake was a great rest stop before pressing on to Valentine. The path to Valentine was mostly a slow gradual incline with a wide trail (less shade than the path to Sherwin). Within about a half mile of the lake, the incline becomes much steeper via a climb of switchbacks again. But, the payoff was great, Valentine was pristine and surrounded by still snowy-ish mountains that are all around the rim of the lake. Some had complained of mosquitos and there were a few in the last mile or so near the lake, but fortunately it was breezy which kept them out of the air at the lake itself, so I had no problem at all with them.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
5 months ago

I absolutely loved this hike! When I left the trail head, I did not originally intend to go all the way to Valentine Lake. When I got to Sherwin Lake, however, I felt really good so I figured why the heck not continue on. The closer you get to Valentine Lake, the rockier the trail gets… And yes, bugs can be a bit of a problem at the top. The snow has all melted, so there are a couple muddy spots here and there. Though my feet will probably be screaming bloody murder for a couple days due to the 18.4 miles today, I absolutely love this trail! Very picturesque!

hiking
bugs
6 months ago

Awesome hike minus constant onslaught of mosquitos from sherwin lake onwards. One small overgrown section with some mud but otherwise trail in perfect shape. Probably only 10 steps on hardpacked snow near the top. Left the trailhead at 745a and didnt see anyone til we reached the top.

hiking
6 months ago

Really really beautiful trail! I clocked it at 10.3 miles to valentine lake from the parking lot... we scrambled a bit on the rocks around valentine so that probably added to the distance but it’s SO BEAUTIFUL! Going up to Sherwin lake there’s a few steep traverses that are pretty challenging considering the lack of shade. The sand is rather deep on the trail through a few portions, but the maintenance of the trail overall is great. You can clearly see where you’re supposed to be going. I would say people should be mindful to stay on the trail through the traverses rather than taking the ‘short cuts’ just to maintain integrity of the land! There’s very visible parts where people have just cut through especially closer to valentine lake which was kind of disappointing. There’s a thick portion of muddy overgrowth as you get closer to valentine and we definitely heard some sort of low growl through the thicket... be mindful you’re in bear country so don’t forget to make some noise! Valentine lake is an incredible reward. We saw a beautiful brook trout and watched a storm brew up over the ridge before heading back down. The smells on the trail were so fresh and invigorating, it’s a really amazing trail. Even if you’re just going to sherwin lake it’s worth every step! If you bring your dog just be mindful there’s not much shade! Sunscreen and bugspray are a must!!

hiking
bugs
6 months ago

This hike was absolutely amazing but once you are a mile and a half below Valentine Lake the mosquitoes are worse then I have ever seen in my life! I was not prepared for that; Trekked Duck’s Pass the day before and no bugs. I thought we were past the worst of the hatch. Nope. So I hiked it with lemongrass oil instead of Deet like the natural hippie I am and I wore shorts. If doing this hike again (Which I cant wait to) I would wear long pants, long sleeve and a Mosquitoes hat, that’s how bad these bugs were. Other then that the hike was gorgeous. Valentine Lake is incredible. Wish I could have walked around it more, but I was being eaten alive. Not very hard altitude gain wise, especially compared to a lot of other hikes in the eastern Sierras. One snowfield at the top but easy to cross. Check out the blog I wrote for more info. http://hungrymountaineer.com/be-my-valentine-and-get-me-some-damn-deet/

hiking
6 months ago

The real trail head is off Sherwin Creek Road by the YMCA camp. steep at first but then levels out. to get to Valentine lake you must cross some easy snowpack but still be cautious. waterfalls, flowers, all that good noise.

hiking
off trail
scramble
snow
6 months ago

Long but worth it! Valentine Lake is gorgeous and there was plenty of varied scenery along the way. The climb right before the lake was still snow-packed last week so you had to go “off-trail” a bit and just scramble up. Be careful of slickness with snowmelt in the afternoon.

hiking
6 months ago

Updated July 5th 2019. The trailhead to Valentine Lakes starts at Sherwin Lakes Trail Head. I was able to easily find the trail head using Google Maps. There is free parking at the trail head and a drop toilet. There is no water faucet to fill up water bottles at the Trailhead but there is a stream. There was patches of snow the last 2 miles of a hike which made it difficult to find where of a trail was but there were so many people on the trail that it was easy just to follow someone who knew the way. The snow should be completely melted by the end of July. Hiking poles and hiking boots are not required but certainly helpful especially with the snow. I saw many “locals” wearing tennis shoes. Valentine Lake was very beautiful and people were swimming in the lake despite it being freezing cold. They were fishes in the lake as well and people fishing. It took me three hours to get from the Trail head to Valentine lake going at a slow pace and making lots of stops.

backpacking
scramble
snow
6 months ago

hiking
6 months ago

You still have to scramble off trial a but right before the lake due to snow. Gorgeous view!

backpacking
snow
7 months ago

Super great for the first 4 miles! The last mile to the lake had TONS of snow and it took us about 2 hours to finish the last mile! Enough room for 3-4 tents at the lake and a beautiful view! Definitely very difficult with the snow incline but a great experience!

hiking
7 months ago

5/8/19-Great hike, but only made it to 4 mile point, where there was too much snow to continue to Valentine Lake. We hope to come back in August to see it. Rest of the trail was clear. Highly recommend. Sign up for all trails and pay to download maps so you can see where you are on GPS. It’s pretty cool to be able to tell exactly where you are at all times and for staying on the trail in those areas where it’s difficult to find.

hiking
snow
7 months ago

Great trail, but as of 5/30/19 there is too much snow to get to Valentine Lake. First lake was beautiful though. Will be back once the snow melts off.

Sun Oct 14 2018

I really enjoyed this hike! Offered a decent level of physical challenge, while also affording some better than average scenery! Very easily found the trail head and experienced no difficulty to Valentine Lake. Do be warned though, those with less-than a decent level of fitness may struggle to cope with the elevation and elevation gain

Sun Sep 16 2018

One of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. Steep and challenging on the way up but I stopped and really took it all in along the way. Steep to start and after about 45 minutes-hour you get to Sherwin Lake, I didn’t stay here long but it is quite lovely. At some point you will walk through a grove of Redwoods, aside from the lake itself I think this was my favorite part. After that you hit a few streams. One of the pools from the streams definitely has some thermo activity, light bubbling coming up through the ice cold water. I stuck my hand in and it felt warm by the bubbles. So rad! When you get to the steep river you hit some steep switchbacks and then you finally come out to a scenery like you’ve never experienced. Valentine Lake was picture perfect. I hiked on a hot day so since I was alone I ditched the clothing and jumped in.... and then right out since the water is ice cold. But if weather permits then I still strongly suggest it. So this hike. Do it! Leave no trace please <3

hiking
Thu Aug 30 2018

Pictures of this trail started my love affair with hiking/backpacking! I finally hiked it last year and it was a dream come true! Even more beautiful than the photos!

hiking
Sun Aug 19 2018

Nice short hike to lake sherwin and back. Took about 1.5 hrs out with some short stops and 50mins return.... downhill.

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