Explore the best trails near Big Pine with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Backpacked this on a hot summer day last year and our group of three guys in our early 30s and one cattle dog had our work cut out for us. Made it to the second lake and our one buddy decided that was as far as he was going so we set up camp at the most picturesque site I've ever had. Getting a permit was kind of a hassle but well worth the effort. Wouldn't mind doing this again as a day hike and camping in Big Pine.
Came out here one weekend one full day hike from 9AM to 5PM. This hike is definitely not for beginners, be prepared to walk quite a bit before the lakes. however, you will see a lot of great scenery before you get to the lakes. we started at the cabins to the lakes and let me tell you, by far the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
we are regular hikers, but this definetly gave us a work out. we do stop a lot and enjoy the scenery more than most though, so that may have affected us a bit. but we'll worth the pain.
moderate to hard level hiking depending on your hiking ability and how you handle altitude.
This trail was beautiful and rewarding! It was a bit confusing on some parts and I got lost twice! So definitely do your research. You take the North Fork the whole way there, the only confusion was how many junctions there are with no signs telling you which way to go. Once you reach the cabin you are halfway there. By time you reach 1st Lake, the others are close in proximity. This is an uphill hike the whole time with a lot of switchbacks, so plan ahead of time if you're a beginner. I did this trail in the winter so there was a lot of ice and a lot of snow, if you have trekking poles, I would bring them. I would rate this trail as moderate and perfect for a day hike, but also perfect scenery and spots for backpacking!
Packed up to Second Lake. Weather was beautiful during the day but down into the 20's at night. The trail is full of great views.
Absolutely Beautiful Backpacking Trail . 5.5 miles to 2nd lake with almost 3000 ft elevation gain, carrying a 30lb pack ..it was tough...but well worth it ...A Must Do !!!
Once you get up past the first falls, it's not long until you see the stunning massif of the Temple Crag begin to rise over the ridge you're about to climb. It's a good climb, but once you get to Lake 1, the rest come along in short order. Definitely one of the busier trails you'll find, especially with guide companies that will pack up a big group to the lower lakes on horses for some glamping, but it's easy to find a slice of solitude with the amount of options for campsites around all of the lakes. The Temple Crag truly must be seen to be appreciated. The photos are beautiful, but the only response I could muster while standing in it's shadow was, 'Wow'. Also had fun watching a maniac who had climbed the thing descending in the dark by the light of their headlamp, a wonderful reminder that I will always be a little boy among men. We took a day hike, hoping to make it to the Palisade Glacier via the Sam Mack Meadow, but the loose scree and boulders on the way up forced us to turn around. Definitely do a little more research into the best route beforehand, freestyling like we did is not advisable (even with the help of some questionable, if well intentioned, cairns). As a tip, the trail quota was booked for Big Pine Lakes on our trip dates, but after speaking with a ranger, we were able to pull a permit for Baker Lake, and were told we were welcome to make camp anywhere in the general area accessible via the trailhead. Enjoy, and happy adventuring!
Beautiful hike along the North Fork of Big Pine Creek trail. The hike starts out steep with switchbacks and the first hour of the hike to first falls is entirely in the sun. After reaching the cabin however the trail meanders along the creek, in and out of aspen and pine forests. There are numerous opportunities to refill your water provided you have some type of filter. The views of the lakes are beautiful and 2nd Lake is the most beautiful where the granite meets the aquamarine water. I would rate this hike as moderate to difficult as it has several steep portions but is not rocky like the South Fork.
Fiance and I tackled North Fork from our campsite at Big Pine. Gloriously beautiful, but take lots if water and a snack! First lake is 2-3 hours at a moderate pace, ~4000 ft elevation gain.
I took this to Second Lake. 2000+ elevation gain. Really balanced trail. Eclectic landscapes and trailscapes throughout. 2 miles in ..Check out the house that Lon Chaney built in the '20's....very cool! This is an absolutely gem of a hike. Unique turquoise colored lakes are gorgeous(due to the glacier silt). Temple Crag and Palisades Glacier...highly recommended.
We hiked up to fifth lake and completed the loop past black lake and down. I don't recommend this hike for beginners or anyone who gets altitude sickness since some spots have a pretty steep elevation climb. The maps say the loop is 11.3 miles but Strava and Fitbit calculated the loop as 16 miles. After you cross the first bridge by first falls, you can cross over to the fire road (sign points to South Fork Trail) and use that to get up to the switchbacks. It will save your legs for the strenuous parts ahead. (Look on Google Earth for location of the road.) I'm glad we started on this route and caught the 2nd falls on the way back. If you decide to do the entire loop, start on the 1st Lake route and finish towards Black Lake. By the time you get to Black Lake, you'll be thankful for the downhill switchbacks rather than climbing up them. If you make it to 1st lake, keep going to 2nd lake since it's right around the corner. 3rd Lake to 4th lake is the hardest part of the trip and has the steepest climb. Once you make it to 4th lake, 5th lake is very easy walk and worth the jaunt off the main trail. Looking forward to going back in a couple of weeks to complete all 7 lakes.
Camped at lake 4 at just a little over 10,000 ft...so no camp fire allowed. It was in mid August. It gets pretty cold, but you get used to it. Was there for 4 nights. Hiked all the way to Lake 7 and to Sam Mack Meadows (A must see). One of my favorite experiences. Really beautiful. Perfect for star gazing.
Saul M. on Big Pine Lakes Trail