Explore the most popular birding 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.

Beautiful!! the first and second lakes were frozen and the third was halfway melted. Not very hard but amazing views.

Went this past week...very beautiful!! A lot of snow and very deep but totally awesome!

It’s an incredible hike! Like some other recent posts, we only went to 2nd lake but the entire way had such beauty there was no boring aspect. The weather was perfect. The hike isn’t strenuous and can be taken quite leisurely. I had a knee issue recently and managed to complete this hike without much issue. And my Maltese/Pomeranian did too! According to my Suunto Traverse we did just under 10 miles round trip. Can’t wait to come back when the lakes have thawed. We hiked on 05/05/18

on Big Pine Lakes Trail

hiking
19 days ago

Wow. Just wow. Spent all yesterday morning, from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. hiking up to the second lake (group felt that going up to the third would’ve been a little more dangerous considering we didn’t anticipate so much ice) and the views were absolutely breathtaking! It started to snow as we were making our way back down (which made the hike all the more better) and ran into many anticipated fishermen. Sadly for them the lakes were frozen over leaving only a small little area for them to fish. However, all in all, this was probably the best hike I’ve done so far this year and I would LOVE to go back when the weather gets warmer!

hiking
22 days ago

I completed this trail on 27April18. Up to lake 3 is a safe hike and is where the best views are, beyond that, there is nothing moderate about it, at least in the winter time. I decided to push myself and continued (I only had crampons, no snow shoes) but there is still so much snow that is actually dangerous. Is so deep in some areas that my whole leg would get buried on it, and I am a 6’1” tall guy. There are so many creeks that you can hear them under the snow so you wanna be careful. The other lakes are smaller and not so impressive like the first three. Since the snow was so deep I didn’t go around lake four and intercepted the trail in the other end, which btw is nowhere to be seen, I just followed my GPS. The snow was so unstable that I had to crawl, slide on my rear, etc. I lost part of my hiking pole, stuck somewhere in the deep of it, even I almost lose one of my boots in a similar scenario. I had to dig it out. About the course, is continuous uphill up to lake four. Lake 1 is at 10000 ft., highest point 10800 or so. The loop which is somewhere around 5 miles long starts after 4.5 from the parking lot. The uphill is moderate in general, strenuous at times. Weather was chilli but comfortable.

backpacking
1 month ago

Not sure if I need to add to the big review pile for this trail, but why not. It lives up to the hype and the access is easy. I would say this is an excellent trail for beginning backpackers who want to experience the Sierra Nevada at its best.

It is popular for a reason, but the presence of people dwindle the further up you go, and there are options to expand beyond this trail (such as Agassiz Col which I attempted but failed, a successful failure I must say).

Why does the summary on this trail's description say it "features a lake"? As a matter of fact, it features so many lakes the namers half-assedly named them numbers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...!

Unfortunately we were there without snow shoes end of march. We had to turn around. What we saw.... 5 stars although we didn’t make it to the lakes.

This was the most beautiful hike I’ve been on! The lakes were like turquoise gems against the snow patched craggy mountains. The switchbacks take you up into the John Muir Wilderness where a surge of water runs along your path. You can rest by Lon Chaney’s old cabin and continue on to find more gorgeous lakes as you walk. True story: I inhaled a mountain fly and within a few minutes it came out my nose. I swear...disgusting but true. The nice thing is that you can choose to go out six miles or complete the whole trail and you will feel accomplished either way.

hiking
3 months ago

We just hiked to Second Lake (mid January ‘18) and are amazed at how gradual the trail is - probably because it’s graded for stock. It was a fast hike of only 10 miles round trip, but the views are staggering, especially in winter. If you hit this trail before the next major snow you only need micro spikes after the Ranger Station.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked to the first lake in mid-January. We used the trail along the side of the mountain to avoid hiking in snow. There’s some elevation gain on that side. After the initial climb, you’ll be hiking in some snow to the cabin. Some parts the snow was ankle deep as no one had hiked before us. After the cabin is all snow. Lake was frozen over. Beautiful sight to see. Only had two other hikers trailing us. On the way back, a few backpackers were headed up for camping.

Worth the hard climb. Hiked this trail during the summer, bring a lot of water!!!!!!! So beautiful but I was sore for two days

hiking
4 months ago

I’m giving it three stars because the views of Split Mountain are gorgeous. But otherwise it’s a fairly oppressive hike to get to and to complete. For starters, the trailhead almost necessitates 4wd/awd + high clearance + off-roading tires (probably the most important being good tires, because even if you can clear the rocks and get through the loose sand, you’re still going to be driving over a lot of sharp rock). If you can drive to the trailhead, then you’ll need to add about 8 miles on around-trip. In general, the trail is not well maintained, very overgrown in sections and extremely loose in others. Because of this, people have tried to create their own paths, making it almost impossible to follow the mail trail the whole way. There are equally difficult, but more enjoyable hikes, in the eastern Sierras, so I don’t think this is a particularly “good” hike. Basically, I recommend doing other hikes unless you’re after CA’s 14ers.

This hike is amazing. The hike down is even more amazing. Worth the drive and I would love to do it again. I brought my 7 year old daughter and she didn’t give up, but she is used to hikes like this and we took breaks.

The Big Pine Lakes trail is absolutely stunning and beautiful. Nice trails and great fishing. We Stayed in Big Pine at an Airbnb. "Big Pine Cottage Hideaway. The perfect place in Big Pine to access the lakes trails. This place is wonderful you have to see it. And it is dog friendly.

hiking
6 months ago

Spectacular views. Perfect winter weather. Awesome group of hikers who were helpful when I exhibited signs of altitude sickness.

Two of us did this trail on 10/20/17. 2 nights 3 days.

When we started at the trailhead about 10:30 in the morning. There was a strong wind blowing at near 70 miles an hour. We knew the winds were supposed to die down in the afternoon.

It took us about 6+ hours to make it to Sawmill lake were we camped. Only had about an hour of daylight left to set up. Very nice camp. Next time I’ll bring my tarp and hammock instead.

Next morning we packed just the essentials and went out on a day hike trying to summit Colosseum. Late start and a bunch of time loss navigating kept us from summiting the mountain.

Third day we packed out thinking it would be an easy trek mostly downhill. It wasn’t easy.

hiking
6 months ago

Such a wonderful and great hike this time of year. The colors of the trees were amazing and you get lost in nature’s splendor. We didn’t do the whole loop, but went up to the cabin and rested by the well flowing stream. Plan to come back next year and do the whole thing!

hiking
6 months ago

This trail offers spectacular views of beauty but be prepared. It’s roughly a three hour intense hike (about 4.5 miles) to the first lake but well worth it. We did it yesterday and couldn’t be happier.

Anyone looking at doing the trail this weekend and have any thoughts about the potential snow rolling in on Saturday/Sunday?

Beautiful lakes

hiking
6 months ago

This is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. We started at the trailhead off of Glacier Lodge Road and hiked to 3rd lake. There was so much fall foliage to look at and when you get that first glimpse of turquoise water at first lake, you just want to stay there and admire. But don’t! Keep going because it’s beautiful. We did over 13 mikes and the terrain is nice and soft. I had no aches or pains after this hike. Loved it!

hiking
7 months ago

awesome even for day hiking...much more for overnite camping

backpacking
7 months ago

Gorgeous hike! Only made it to first lake, but it was quite an experience. It was a long uphill, but not too strenuous. It was cold tho. Snow flurries for both evenings we were there.

one of the most beautiful hikes/views in California. Will be doing annually. Aug is best

Totally Awesome, I am so out of shap

8/27/17. Beautiful hike with lots of everything. The waterfalls are great to take some time and enjoy. The sounds of the creek while hiking, exposed areas for grand views, flowers and wooded areas, the lakes, the palisades. Saw lots of fish and lots of fishermen. Wow, great hike! Only gave it 4 stars as this is a heavily used area, be prepared to see lots of people.

hiking
8 months ago

amazing hike and scenery!

Day hiked to the glacier. It didn't even feel like a long hike beacuse everything was so beautiful I couldn't stop going. Any mile stretch of this trail would be worth hiking 10 miles to by itself, it's crazy that it's all on one trail. I don't think it's actually 17.2 miles I think it's more like 15.5. The boulder field at the end can be a little challenging to navigate on the way back.

backpacking
8 months ago

I took the Sawmill Pass trail from Sawmill Junction to the trailhead on July 28 2017. We used Sawmill as a bail out point from the JMT as one of our group had to be air lifted out. The trail is listed as an unmaintained trail. From the junction its a little tough to find the trail but once you do find it I thought that it was about as well maintained as any of the other trails on the JMT. Due to the extensive snow melt a lot of this trail was covered in water on the way up to the pass. It was by far the prettiest of all of the trails we had done up to this point. The lakes and wildflowers were incredible. Once we made it to the pass and over the other side it was a long way to the trail head. 3 miles to the pass from the junction and a good 10+ down. The first 4 down were gorgeous but as soon as you wind your way back up to the second peak it is like hiking through the desert for 6 miles. Hot, windy, and no water source so make sure you have enough to get to the bottom. Overall a beautiful but strenuous hike. I think if I was starting at the trailhead and going to the junction I would have made this a 2 day hike. It is an extremely steep trail heading down so going up would be brutal.

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