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

12 miles round trip from Quartz Mountain Trail head to middle lake. Easily doable in a day, in and out, but pretty uphill on the way in. About 3 hours up and 2 hours back with a daypack.

great... lots of mosquitos, but beautiful lakes and peaks to climb

The lakes are nice, particularly the second one. It took me a bit of time trying to find the final lake (have to scramble up the rocks ahead of the second lake) and I actually lost the trail at a couple of points on this hike. The walk was fine but there’s wasn’t much of a scenery.

hiking
1 month ago

This route is closer to 71km (44.12mi) than the reported 63.9km (39.70mi) (and I didn't visit Chain Lakes!).

Thank you to the originator of the track - the detailed waypoint labels were a huge boon on the walk.

After completing Rae Lakes a couple of months ago, I wanted another challenge and felt this would be roughly equivalent in difficulty. Based on previous pace I'd hoped to complete the loop in 15-16hrs and given available daylight wanted to do the lollipop stick in the dark (about 4h). I set off Saturday 06:05 and the light was hitting towards the first stream crossing.

The loop becomes interesting around Merced Pass where we snatch glimpses towards the Valley. Seeing Half Dome from around here was a pretty cool moment for me and seeing it in the distance but still relatively close (just 21.9mi according to an upcoming sign) made Yosemite feel small in my mind.

The approach to Red Peak Pass is very good - extremely well maintained trails with no routefinding issues whatsoever. Presumably this is because the section is shared with the more popular "Clark Range Loop" which starts and ends at the more accessible Happy Isles. The lakes on the way up offer great views and seeing Merced Peak up close is also extremely impressive. Topping out at Red Peak Pass was absolutely *the* highlight of the loop. The visa here is huge - all of the main peaks such as Dana and Conness are laid out in front of us. I'm not great at names but an app like PeakFinder AR is a great option here. Better still is that as you descend just a few switchbacks you get your first glimpse of the Minarets over to your right.

The descent of Red Peak (and Post Peak and even moreso Fernandez) Pass is quite hard going with scree (talus) under foot. I'd hoped to run down some sections of the descents but didn't want to risk it so far out in the wilderness. In late October there was icy snow on the north side of Red Peak Pass but this was only present for a handful of switchbacks.

Descending through the meadows towards Post Peak Pass was absolutely gorgeous and the only real time on the loop I wanted to stop and spend some time. In particular one "unnamed" lake that was accompanied by a waymarker would be an ideal stop for me. For now I can only imagine how gorgeous this would be in summer with more greenery.

Post Peak Pass was a great ascent - crossing over an alpine meadow (again, summer would be a great time to be there) and then slowly ascending and looking back at the meadow as well as the Clark Range. As crazy as it sounds this is where things start to feel really remote. Obviously people ascend this pass but throughout the hike there were signs listing the distance to Fernandez Pass but very few to Post Peak Pass. Amazing views walking along the ridge into Ansel Adams Wilderness. This is where I drew in my last views of the Minarets before starting the descent to the next ascent of Fernandez Pass.

At this time things went downhill for me. I'd already noticed that my pace was slow (I hoped for 14:00/km but instead finished with 15:14/km) but was now beginning to notice just how much of a sandbag the trail was. Due to the low resolution of the track a lot of distance in switchbacks, etc. were cut and as a result my walk was extended by around 7km or close to two hours. I had anticipated on being close to the top of the lollipop stick around the time it got dark and then finish with a two hour descent to the trailhead. In the end I reached Fernandez Creek Trail Junction after dark and walked the next four hours by headtorch. I have no idea what the views from Fernandez Pass are like or any other section on. I expect they were great and regret not having had a chance to see them myself. Perhaps in future I will walk up to Fernandez Pass out and back from the trailhead with an easier approach.

My gripes/thoughts:

The lollipop stick 10km walk is really not fun. Nor is the narrow windy singletrack down from Fernandez Pass. This route can never be 5/5 with those two sections. To add insult to injury you do the 10km lollipop stick twice - that's four hours of pretty grim walking and a significant chunk of this walk.

I debated with giving this a 3 but I think rushing to do it in a short space of time, not seeing Fernandez Pass, etc. I erred on the side of caution.

Finally - this trail is HARD. I thought it would compare favourably to Rae Lakes but that's a doddle by comparison. Your feet, legs, back, everything will take a beating. Three passes (even if neither is as high as Glen Pass) is brutal and mentally challenging. I enjoyed almost every minute of Rae Lakes but would not personally recommend this be done as a day loop - in summer with more daylight it will be too hot and in winter you miss too much.

Hiked the lower Lake two weeks ago and loved it. Hope to do the upper Lake soon.

My wife and I hiked Goat mountain trail yesterday. We just moved to Oakhurst and wanted to try something different than going into Yosemite. We thought this would be a nice change.
We started at the green gate where the app told us the trail begins. We missed the first turn to take you up the mountain, so we had to backtrack about a quarter mile.
The trail goes through lots of forest land with occasional views of Bass Lake. It finishes after a steep incline to a cell tower at the top of Goat Mountain.
It's always nice to get out, in the early fall but here are my complaints about this hike.
The trail is not very well marked. We ran into a pair of mountain bikers who weren't sure they were at the right place either because the trailhead was not marked. It wasn't until we finished that we found out we could have shaved off a couple of miles by parking at The Forks Resort.
Second, the end was a little anticlimactic. After 9 miles we were expecting something spectacular, it was a nice view from the top of the mountain, but I think we were expecting more.
Finally, there were tons of gnats all along the way. Very frustrating to be hiking and have to swat at bugs from getting in your face, mouth, and eyes. Granted, it's outside, but definitely something to be aware of ahead of time.
Overall, not a bad experience, just nothing to write home about with all of the opportunities in the Oakhurst area.

This was my all time favorite hike.We did it over six nights so we could enjoy every second and we did.Hope to do it again some day!

backpacking
3 months ago

I'm interested in taking the Chiquito Pass Trail up into Yosemite toward Crescent Lake and Johnson Lake with my daughter for a few days, and then connect with the Chilnualna Falls Trail that takes me down Wawona Dome and into North Wawona where we have a cabin right by the trailhead. I am planning on driving up Beasore Road and then on to the 5S04 to catch the start of the Chiquito trail there. I have a question: will a Lexus SUV (RX330 survive the 5S04 or am I taking a lot of risk to drive the couple of miles on that road? From Google Earth it doesn't look that bad.

backpacking
3 months ago

8/7 - 8/11 hiked from Fernandez TH to Vandeberg 1st day then to Lillian 2nd day. Hike was moderately challenging with our heavy packs - training was key. All creeks were dry but lake water levels only couple feet down. Day hiked to Rainbow and Chittenden for fishing. Air quality pretty good considering Ferguson and Lyons fires were pretty close - blue skys most of the time with haze for couple hours at a time. Smoke seemed to settle down hill from us. BTW no campfires allowed except at Lillian. Overall the area is gorgeous and I recommend you go see for yourself!

Great group hike. Fair amount of boulder hopping, thankful for those dreaded squats!

on Goat Mountain Trail

hiking
4 months ago

I’d like to do this again next time I’m on this side of the states just because the smoke from the fires is real and I bet the views are even more amazing than what we did get to see, which were still great. The gnat pockets are real, but that’s nature. We parked at the start coordinates and recorded at 10.1 mi for us. Took just under 5 hours at moderate pace and while out of shape.

We did this trail from Quartz mountain trail head, on July 12 we had a bit on rain on the hike in, plus rain that night, we camped up in the rocks way above the 2nd lake to get away from the mosquitos I would rate the mosquitos as moderate, plenary of sunshine Friday, a bit of smoke on Saturday due to the fire near the entrance to Yosemite. All in all a great trip and the fly fishing was good with brook trout, browns and rainbows. By Sunday the hike back to the trail head was a bit hazy due to smoke. Day time and night time temps where great, down sleeping bag was over kill.

Great weather some rain and smoke, fishing was great, mosquitoes where moderate to bad depending how close you camped to the water.

The trail was relatively easy to follow, with a few strenuous parts along the way. Fishing was great along Norris creek (Brook and German Brown trout) and in Jackass lake (Rainbow trout).

We went up a couple of weeks ago, it was my first overnight backpacking trip in 30 years. The dirt road to the trailhead was really rutted up (doable in a Subaru Outback), but the trail was well worth it. We stayed at the middle lake and I caught two rainbows.

backpacking
6 months ago

Great weekend trip to Yosemite Wilderness without the crowds.

backpacking
6 months ago

One of the most strenuous and challenging trips I’ve done but it was absolutely beautiful. This was my first backpacking trip (about 3 years ago) and i was thoroughly unprepared for the steep elevation gain but man, did it pay off. The trail did not have too much traffic, perhaps because of an impending thunderstorm. We got to have the whole lake to ourselves and it was truly an incredible experience. We planned on crossing red peak pass but the thunder rolled back in so deemed it unwise to traverse over the unprotected ridge and chose to spend an extra day at the lake and turn back.

TIPS:
BUG REPELLENT I wore lots and still got eaten alive
Beware of bears, as always, but we saw a momma and her cub, they had been hiding and peaked around the corner when we were already way too close for comfort.

backpacking
6 months ago

We did this on May 23rd and was not able to access the last lake (Chain Lake) and the one before that because there were still lots of snow that covered the trail from Swamp Lake. Ended up camping at Swamp Lake instead. I wouldn’t recommend this trip during May, because the trail is washed out a lot with broken trees, rocks, and streams. It will be easy to get lost as me and my group lost the trail a couple of times. Took 6-7 hours to get there due to the trail condition during May and 3 hours back down.

My Wife and I took the trailhead from just past Millers Landing going towards The Forks. The hike overall was great but we did not quite make it all the way to the lookout as it was late in the day and the trail had not been cleared from the winter. The trail markers were not great so be sure to upload this app before you go. We went approximately 2.5 miles up the gradual but fairly steep narrow trail, climbing over multiple fallen trees, and through narrow patches that seemed almost unused for years. 5.0 miles round trip including a picnic lunch at a clearing about 1.75 miles in, at a leisurely pace took approximately 2 hrs., winds were kicking up and clouds moving in so it was time for a shorter hike around Rocky Point then a few pints of the local brew at Miller's Landing, Overall a great hike and a great day at Bass Lake ..

mountain biking
7 months ago

It is a must-do mountain biking trail whenever you are in the area.

camping
7 months ago

Fishing’s not that good! A lot of mountain lions you can hear them crying out when the sunsets & when it rises keep a eye on the dogs & kids.

Very enjoyable hike featuring views of Shuteye mountain

Perfect Sunday hike. Subtract .4 miles from our total due to initially missing the initial right turn up the hill. There was a lot of snow going uphill but was not difficult to walk through and most had melted on our return down the hill. I would rate this hike as easy due to the very gradual climb out to the watch tower. 10.3 total.

A beautiful winter hike with a spectacular view of bake lake and the valley from the fire lookout. The way there was a steady incline with various types of trees, birds, and moderate amount of nats. The hike ended up being about 13 miles long so we had to run back to beat the sunset, which was the funnest part :) I don’t recommend this hike for young children due to the length and incline. We will definitely do it again with less time restraints!

Nice wide trail. Rolling hills with a view of Bass Lake. We only hiked in 2 miles.

backpacking
11 months ago

Great reviews for an awesome trail helped me choose this as a 1st backpacking trip for my 9 yr old son. Beautiful views at a couple places along the way. Saw some deer on the trail. About half way up, there are some perfect picnic spots. The lake was peaceful and had a ton of good camping spots nearby with fire rings.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A few steep climbs that are a bit tough if carrying heavy packs, but gorgeous views along the way. There are some beautiful, forested sections that feel magical, with a few meadows off the trail filled with wild flowers. Go a mile or so further to lady lake and there are lots of glacial waterfalls coming down the granite walls. There was some smoke from the nearby forest fires ty far affected the air quality last weekend, but a thunderstorm blew some of the haze out. Some mosquitos near the water, but not as many as anticipated.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can some advise on overnight permits and how to obtain?

backpacking
Friday, August 18, 2017

Absolutely amazing. Traveled from Pennsylvania with a few buddies and enjoyed every moment. Red peak pass was still covered in some snow so we have to use nick spikes to come down the other side. Some of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen..

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The most awful trail in recent memory. We turned back after 1.5 kms due to annoying gnats and the arid environment. While the other reviewers suggested that the views may have been awesome at the top, it would not have compensated for the unpleasant hike. There was nothing of interest in the trail, the pines have been decimated by bark beetles. There are plenty of trails nearby that are substantially better. We decided to head back to Lewis Creek Trail for a more shady and interesting trail.

Load More