Explore the most popular river 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.

My fiancé and I went yesterday! It was absolutely breathtaking! We also brought our 3 month old daughter with us in a baby carrier so the hike was a little bit difficult but definitely worth it! Started the hike around 1100 and ended up at the lake around 230 ish and took us a little less the 3 hours to get back down. Beyond beautiful!

Beautiful views and well worth the climb. Lakes are beautiful, and what you see in the pictures is what you see in real life. I want to go back and hike to the glacier one day.

Speechless. Exactly how it left us. Big Pine Lakes is absolutely breathtaking. By far one of the most beautiful places we’ve hiked. The trail is rated moderate but I will be honest when I say that this trail is more on the difficult end. Just my opinion. The hike is mostly incline and over 5-6 miles to the first lake. Completely worth it though. Very doable and many stop areas along the way. We saw deer and the fall leaves. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. We only went to lake two and it took us a total of 6hrs. We also stopped and took pictures in many places so that’s why it took a bit longer.

hiking
13 days ago

A wonder-filled hike with a little bit of everything: 5 lakes in the loop, waterfalls and streams, enough elevation gain to make it challenging and even more interesting, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy. This hike is easily one of my favorites, great for a day or a week. Did it a month ago and had to make sure I reviewed it.

backpacking
13 days ago

This was a great hike- planned on two nights but a snow system was a little heavier than we planned for so called it and headed back down.

Very few people on the trail on Friday- no more than a half a dozen going up and down the entire time. Saturday was a little heavier, but not a problem overall. Co-hiker was not ready for much more than Lake 1, but looking forward to the full loop and Palisade next time.

This trail is at high altitude and there is a gain of 3000+ft. But it is gradual which makes it very possible for just about anyone with enough time to enjoy. The trail is exposed to the elements for the first 2 miles so a 6-7am start is recommended. On the trail I saw, 8 yr old kids with backpacking gear hitting it strong, a three legged dog running ahead of his crew, a couple of men over 250lbs, and if I had my babies in my backpack, it wouldn’t have stopped me from enjoying this AMAZING trail. The beauty about this trail is that there is so much to enjoy along the way. The creek provides so many places to enjoy a break, a dip, or whatever. Whether you do the “whole loop” or not, it shouldn’t matter. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can or cannot hike period. Walk the whole thing up to Canada or walk up 300ft, at least you got outside. Enjoy my friends. This is an incredible hike. Bring at least 1.5 liters if you don’t drink much like myself but much more if you have littles. Maybe take a hammock too.

hiking
20 days ago

Great hike, clean air clean trail amazing views

All fails at its best....posting reviews from people that didnt do the hike......turning back at lake 2 is
not what this hike is about....if you dont do the hike don't comment.....difference between turning back at lake 2 and completing the hike is about 1400 feet elevation gain....not for kids or quiters....if you do the hike, one of the best in the Eastern Sierra, but probably should be rated "hard" as you can see most people don't complete the hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the hike back in August, the weather was perfect. Went all the way to 6th lake, wish I had got a overnight pass so I could enjoy the lakes more. Incredible views & when the wind blows just right you can feel the chill breeze from the glacier.

Great quiet trail. Lots of climbing but not big steps. As mentioned river crossing earlier this year was impassable without literally swimming across a section higher up than the normal crossing. Late this season it was easy. Right now (mid September) it was pretty cool in the early afternoon, and zero bugs. Tom Harrison map says it is 11.2 miles round trip from the lodge to the lake. It used to say 7 something miles here. Now it says 8.3. Not sure what is correct, felt hard, but we got a late start and had to hike quickly.

Definitely a difficult hike for me. I didn’t know what to expect from this hike and completely underestimated it. For starters, we did not bring enough food or water, as it took us nearly 3 1/2 hours to get to the lake. We drank from the fast-moving river and were fine.
Uphill climbing most of the way. It was about 85°-90° and once you start the climb up the face of the mountain, it is all direct sunlight so bring sunscreen.
From the top, it was another 30 minutes to the lake. I was beat! My husband was a great motivator and kept us moving. We made it to willow lake and it was beautiful. Marshy and spotted pools of water as the water level was fairly low. Were there Labor Day weekend and there was barely anyone else there which was nice.
The way back took us about an hour and a half and got back at dusk. If I were to do it again, I’d definitely better prepare ourselves and it would make a huge difference.

The next day we did north fork trail to the seven lakes and it was absolutely stunning. We were much better prepared and although moderately challenging still, we enjoyed every step of it.

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful hike! Moderate uphill climb to the lakes, about 5.5 miles (11-12 total). Heavily shaded in most areas. We were plenty prepared with food and water, although, we did drink from the stream at vigorous areas and were fine. Ton of fish in the lakes. The first two lakes were gorgeous and barely anyone around! We did this hike Labor Day weekend and expected it to be heavily trafficked. We want to go back and get an overnight pass—absolutely breathtaking.

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this hike as well. My husband and I hiked with two kids in backpacks (ages 1.5 + 3.5) - 2nd lake was our lunch and turn-around spot. Everyone loved it and had a great time. We clocked 12 miles in our RT and it was 4 up for our crew and a pretty quick 2 down. Definitely take a filter for more water if you take littles. For perspective - we are in good shape and live at 6000k, pack weights were probably 30 and 50 lbs respectively. It was a big day - but so worth it.

One of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done! The beginning is a little rough because of how exposed you are, so I’d start early! I hiked it alone and felt totally comfortable! I cannot wait to go back and do the loop again! I would say it’s 14 miles.

Just beautiful! I think the mileage for this loop may be seriously off. We only went to the 2nd Lake and turned back around to return to Glacier Lodge but recorded over 12 miles in doing just that. I recommend lots of sunscreen and taking a water filter. If you run out of water, there’s tons of water along the way. I would love to return and backpack the lakes.

Awesome! The first 3 lakes are the most beautiful with the blue green color. The black lake was also really nice and peaceful. If you have the time and energy, I think it’s worth it to do the whole loop, because at the end you get a really nice view of the first and second lakes. We made it an all day adventure, and spent 10 hours on the trail taking nice breaks and napping. Next time I’d get an overnight permit and camp up there!

Did this trail on September 7th and had a wonderful time. We weren’t sure we’d be able to do it, considering the creek crossing. We followed the trail to 2 possible places to cross, and felt that they were too deep and fast moving. We scrambled over some boulders a little further up and found a better place to cross. It was just over knee high deep. We took our shoes off and crossed pretty easily. There’s a really nice overlook about halfway through the hike, and brainerd lake is really nice as well. We took our time, and stopped for lots of pictures, and we got back to trailhead after about 9 hours. The trail itself is very beautiful and pretty shady. If you’re in the area doing the upper fork to the lakes, I think it’s worth spending a day to also do the south fork. Sorry I accidentally deleted my map, but it showed that it was 11 miles round trip, I don’t know where everyone is getting 8.5!

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike. We hiked this yesterday and didn’t start until noon. We only got to the second lake and turned back because rain was expected and we wanted to make it down before it got dark and started raining. The incline was steady and moderate. There is lots of water along the trail so you can refill your bottle. Can’t wait to go back.

nice easy hike. we just hiked to the first 2 lakes. it was well worth it.

Just did this hike this morning, I’ve done numerous 10 plus mike hikes but this by far was the hardest. It’s up hill non stop and the elevation isn’t easy to adjust. Worth it tho! Doable if you take breaks and enjoy the scenery. I am 13 weeks pregnant and not on tip top shape but would say this hike was difficult over being moderate.

I was looking forward to making Telescope peak... It's not reachable by a sedan car - very washed out right now, we couldn't make it to Charcoal kilns, there was 1.4 miles left when we turned around. Haven't passed even half a mile on the unpaved road...

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

One of the best backpacking trips I've done in CA. Was only 5.5 miles to lake 2 but the elevation made it tougher than i expected.

The majority of the hike is uphill with some shaded switchbacks to start and then it is pretty exposed for the next 2 miles which includes more switchbacks.

Weather was perfect and there were no mosquitos!

Camped at lake 2 but also day hiked to lake 3. I thought lake 2 was prettier.

hiking
2 months ago

This hike is very pretty. I only made it to First Lake because it started to rain pretty heavily at that point and I was only wearing shorts and a tank top. Definitely be sure to bring a sweater (even if the weather is hot when you start the hike). Also, I was told the hike was only 3.8 miles to first lake... which definitely made me wonder if it was the altitude alone that made the hike seem so long. I gave this trail a 4 star rating because horses are allowed on the trail and you can pay $100 to ride a horse to third Lake. The path is narrow at some points which makes it difficult to avoid horse droppings in some locations (and the mess/smell the droppings made after being reconstituted by the rain was not entirely pleasant).
I’d definitely recommend bringing extra sunscreen (and wearing a hat and/or long sleeves). I’m very fair skinned and the first 2.5 miles or so don’t have much shade.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail, very interesting the whole way. We parked at the backpackers lot and had to walk a bit down the road since we were told by the ranger not to use the pack trail. A lot of people disregarded that rule, but this is the route we did. This trail is scenic pretty much the whole way. Its pretty steep and hot in the first few miles but once you're past the first series of switchbacks beside second falls, it starts to flatten out. It stays pretty flat until a little bit after Lon Chaneys cabin (~1/2 way to 2nd lake). The second set of switchbacks wasn't as bad as the first and you'll start to see the turquoise water of 1st lake through the trees. We went to second lake and camped there for a couple nights, spent the days exploring the other lakes. We had thunderstorms every day between 2-6 like clockwork. This is what we called our afternoon thunderstorm nap time. On the last day after the thunderstorm we were greeted with a double rainbow!!! It was insanely beautiful! When it was time to go, it only took about an hour to get back down...I would do this trail again, even as a day hike although it is so beautiful you don't want to leave. Ever.

One of the most beautiful hikes/places Iv seen. It’s a must do, I recommend starting the hike no later than 6am. You’ll see sunrise and avoid any heat!

backpacking
2 months ago

Gorgeous!

The first couple of miles on this trail are fully exposed with little or no shade. Therefore, I suggest starting as early as possible to avoid the heat of the day. The lakes themselves are amazing - definitely worth the effort.

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