Explore the most popular nature trips trails near Lake Mary with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Amazing hike with beautiful hot springs and pools. The topo map shows six pools but we found 10. Keep to the main trail on the north side of the mountain beyond the end of what is shown in this app and you will see small side trails leading off to the south and southeast that go to the pools. Do not try to bushwhack through the heavy grass and brush; although you can get there that way it is much more difficult and unnecessary. The “King’s pool” at the very top has a stunning view and is worth the extra work to get up the steep hill.
There are well established campsites along the end of the trail and most are fairly close to the pools.
As others have mentioned the hike is longer than reported, according to our Fitbit and apps we hiked 12 to 13 miles each way.

Short hike but very nice

My wife and I did this trail as an overnight backpacking trip on 9/16/18. We were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary and we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location.

Rather than doing this as an out-and-back, we decided to do it as a loop. We began on the High Trail (PCT) from the Agnew Meadows Trailhead toward Thousand Island Lake. At about the three mile mark you get a spectacular view of the Minarets, Mt. Ritter, and Banner Peak looming over Shadow Lake. Eventually, about eight miles in, you reach Thousand Island Lake. As you may have guessed, this lake is very unique because it has a ton of islands. The lake is at the base of Banner Peak, making this a very scenic location to set up camp. In the morning, we set off southbound on the JMT. Two miles later we reached Garnet Lake, which provided amazing views of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter. We continued another four miles to Shadow Lake, with the last half mile paralleling a beautiful creek with numerous waterfalls. When you reach the east end of Shadow Lake, you can look back across the lake to the west for an awesome view of the Minarets and Mt. Ritter. Then it’s a steep, rocky descent through the gorge along the Shadow Creek Trail. When you reach the bottom, it’s an easy couple miles and a final uphill push back to the Agnew Meadows Trailhead.

I recorded my loop at 18.7 miles with 3,406 feet of elevation gain. It ended up being just a couple miles longer than the out-and-back to Thousand Island Lake, but with twice as many spectacular views. I couldn’t imagine missing out on everything we experienced on the back half! It was challenging, but well worth it.

Mid-September turned out to be a great time to go. It wasn’t very busy, the weather was great, there were no bugs, and the colors of autumn were starting to appear. It did get pretty cold at night, but it was a small price to pay given the other huge upsides.

Overall, this was my favorite hike so far and definitely the most scenic. I would highly recommend trying it!

You can download my recording if you decide to try the Thousand Island, Garnet, and Shadow Lakes Loop Trail instead of just the out-and-back trail to Thousand Island Lake. It will make navigating a lot easier!

Happy hiking!

hiking
14 days ago

Simple trail to an underwhelming set of falls. Very pleasant out and back and certainly not crowded even given its proximity to Devil's Postpile.

Excellent trail

This Lake hike was well worth it and the waterfall was a refreshing cool off.

Great challenging hike, finished today! Very hot and lots of mosquitoes.....however beautiful hike with a creek accessible much of the way for water after purifying of course. We started at rainbow falls and swam for a few hours before beginning our trek. The switchbacks are steep and challenging yet short lived.

We hiked the high trail to Thousand Island Lake then took the River trail back to the Agnew Meadows trail head. We were struck by the amazing beauty as we hiked for miles through blooming foliage and plenty of birds singing along the way. 10/10 would recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

WRONG PHOTOS Hikers beware, the photos uploaded by Tim are wrong (probably by accident). The large waterfall you see in his pictures is actually Rainbow waterfall, which starts from the same trailhead but goes in the opposite direction toward Devil's Postpile and Rainbow waterfall. I'm not sure if any of his pictures actually depict this hike.

FANTASTIC trail. Rating is accurate at difficult. Would recommend for backpackers to leave early in the morning because there are countless breathtaking panoramics of the Minarets and mountain range around each corner, so taking your time to stop and appreciate it was really something that I'm glad we did. The total hike time was over 6 hours, with a heavy backpack, and we actually had to camp about .5 mile from Thousand Island due to a late start, it getting dark, and being EXHAUSTED! Would have been much quicker without the backpack full and ready for a weekend of camping with a heavy tent. We passed a handful of people doing this trail as a day trail who were making great time if that's the route you're hoping to go. Again, would recommend to leave early even then! Luckily summer days are long and offer sunlight until late in the evening.
There is a parking lot at the trailhead with Agnew Meadows Campsite just up the road. You can also reach the trail head via shuttle ($9 round-trip) and walk a bit. I would recommend to drive your car down to save time and money. The line for the shuttle was long, the shuttle was crowded, and we were itching to get started much sooner than the shuttle allowed us to.
There is a bathroom at the trailhead. The High Trail via the PCT almost immediately starts at an incline, and then is primarily uphill for majority of the trail. There is a long, open (Sunny) stretch that is relatively flat, and about .5 mile that is slightly downhill, but that meant heading back uphill. Two sets of switchbacks. Both are a short distance, one near the beginning and the other almost at the end.
This was difficult but very rewarding. One of the prettiest trails with everything still in bloom. A lot of butterflies, and A LOT of mosquitos. Treat your clothes, take deet and a bug net. Even with deet and a bug net we were still eaten alive and spent most of our time in the tent. There was a bit of wind at the lake itself which meant relief from the mosquitos which was very welcome. Lots of fish jumping, and other travelers fishing!
Again, tough trail, but very worth it! Met a lot of nice PCTers. You definitely earn your views!

backpacking
2 months ago

FANTASTIC trail. Rating is accurate at difficult. Would recommend for backpackers to leave early in the morning because there are countless breathtaking panoramics of the Minarets and mountain range around each corner, so taking your time to stop and appreciate it was really something that I'm glad we did. The total hike time was over 6 hours, with a heavy backpack, and we actually had to camp about .5 mile from Thousand Island due to a late start, it getting dark, and being EXHAUSTED!
There is a parking lot at the trailhead with Agnew Meadows Campsite just up the road. You can also reach the trail head via shuttle ($9 round-trip) and walk a bit. I would recommend to drive your car down to save time and money. The line for the shuttle was long, the shuttle was crowded, and we were itching to get started much sooner than the shuttle allowed us to.
There is a bathroom at the trailhead. The High Trail via the PCT almost immediately starts at an incline, and then is primarily uphill for majority of the trail. There is a long, open (Sunny) stretch that is relatively flat, and about .5 mile that is slightly downhill, but that meant heading back uphill. Two sets of switchbacks. Both are a short distance, one near the beginning and the other almost at the end.
This was difficult but very rewarding. One of the prettiest trails with everything still in bloom. A lot of butterflies, and A LOT of mosquitos. Treat your clothes, take deet and a bug net. Even with deet and a bug net we were still eaten alive and spent most of our time in the tent. There was a bit of wind at the lake itself which meant relief from the mosquitos which was very welcome. Lots of fish jumping, and other travelers fishing!
Again, tough trail, but very worth it! Met a lot of nice PCTers. You definitely earn your views!

Just got done with this trip. Personally, I thought the hot springs were overrated while underreported in total distance and elevation gain. We clocked almost 25 miles from the Rainbow Falls trailhead to the first hot spring with an elevation gain of almost 4500 ft. The first 7 miles seemed to be all downhill and you know what that means going back. Watch-out for rattlesnakes. We had a close encounter with one who wasn’t very happy. Great challenging hike if that’s what you’re looking for. Nice views.

2 months ago

Nice trail, pretty easy with a great payoff — Postpile!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful lake, nice trail. Worth the extra side trek from Pacific Crest Trail. Near two shuttle stops. Very dry and dusty during summer.

Great hike. Worth noting that the Crater Creek Trail between the bridge crossing and the indicated river crossing is an unmaintained, unmarked trail. The area is passable, but requires some bushwhacking. Staying on the trail and using the bridge will add a quarter mile or so to the hike, but would be a better call for a person/group not interested in hiking through dense vegetation.

A note on one of the trail maps: do not take the Island Crossing, stay on the trail, there’s a bridge. I did a through hike from Duck pass to Iva Bell out through Fish creek.

Wonderful hike, amazing views, beautiful hot spring baths. Mosquitos. I’d totally go back, preferably with less mosquitos.

If you have time on your way to the Postpile, take an opportunity to see this fall. It’s a little way up the JMT and into the forest you go...lose your mind and find your soul. Cheers!

This hike was short and sweet. It was a beautiful hike .

Tried to go today instead of boarding and the main road was closed :(

Started at Lake Mary campground and walked to Mammoth Pass Trailhead. Hiked through patches of snow on the way up. Not much shade on the way down to Red's Meadow Resort. Trail on the map looked like it went to Red's Meadow Campground but takes you more towards the resort. Went via the pack trail down to Rainbow Falls and the Lower Falls. Hiked up to Devil's Postpile and back to Red's Meadow Campground (Closed). There was luckily water at the Red's Meadow Resort that we could fill up from because it was very hot.

Breathtaking spot!
Awesome hike!
Highly recommend !!

Snow the day before made for an beautiful mid-October day hike, @ 19 miles via River Trail.

Enjoyed every step of this hike yesterday! We were not in great shape, and we took our time. We stopped often for breaks and picture ops. We took the High Trail in to 1000 Island Lake, which was approx 9 miles to the lake. Then we returned on the River Trail which was a mile shorter. Very happy we chose this route. Going in on the High Trail gave us plenty of beautiful scenery. Coming out on the River Trail was mostly easy descending with beautiful Fall colors and views of the River flowing over the rocks. It was a total of 17.5 miles for us. We were tired, so we didn't venture around the lake too much. We got an early 7 am start and returned to our vehicle at 5 pm. We are sore the next day, it was long hike. But I would say it's worth It! I would absolutely recommend this hike. And I would recommend doing the directional loop as we did. Happy Hiking!

on Sotcher Lake Trail

11 months ago

Beautiful starter hike for beginning hikers or for getting used to the altitude if you're newly arrived to the area. Gorgeous lake and many tiny streams feeding into the lake. The best treat is a small but breathtaking waterfall along the way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This is a nice trail in and out from Devil's Postpile. The views aren't spectacular but the trail is not crowded and there's a nice spot at the base of the falls to chill and picnic.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The hot springs are amazing. Hit them on day 6 of an 8 day trip. Some cool camping spots too. The hike out of Reds Meadow and back is long and very hot. The switchbacks coming down to Fish Creek are very steep. This hike is definitely a backpacking trip, not a day hike.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tiny wieners everywhere.

hiking
Monday, August 14, 2017

Fantastic hike up through the valley and into the Sierras. There were a few areas with snowpack at the higher elevations but the trail is totally fine. The trail starts out with a gradual climb but levels off after the first 3 miles. Would highly recommend for a full length day hike if you have the time!

hiking
Tuesday, August 08, 2017

This is a great walk from bus stop 7 to stop 10...or the other way around...great views of the lake and the falls with the egg shape formation was very cool...what I found interesting is that two park rangers had no knowledge of this small waterfall when I asked them for additional trail information...hike safe folks!

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