Third Lake – Chain Of Big Pine Lakes
Distance: 12 miles; Elevation Gain: 2,750 feet
Starting from the Big Pine Creek North Fork as the name hints, there isn’t one lake but a string of glaciated lakes. Following a creek in a deep valley with looming 14,000′ peaks, the scenery is jaw dropping. Throughout your journey you’ll see numerous cascades, crags, and granite outcroppings showcasing the effects of glacial activity. And to put the cherry on top – the views from Third Lake are worth the effort.
Backup Plan: If you’re a few miles along and realize that Third Lake is a no-go, there’s a consolation prize. About 3.5 miles in, you’ll find a summer cabin built in 1929 for a famous Hollywood Star – Lon Chaney.
Distance: 4 – 6 miles (Depending on lake you visit); Elevation Gain: 1,627 feet
Starting out from the North Lake Campground, the trail quickly exits a meadow and ascends onto a ridge dotted with trees. From here, you’re rewarded with views of Grass Lake and the valley below. As you continue climbing, you’ll arrive at Lower Lamarck Lake. A gorgeous, deep blue lake with 13,000’+ peaks as a backdrop.
Distance: 8 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,633 feet
From the South Lake parking lot, this trail showcases the High Sierra with crystalline lakes, jagged summits, and lingering snow. It also adds a little “spice” to your outdoor adventure by introducing you to trail finding (i.e., have a map, compass, and GPS to help guide you). While shorter and less of a climb, be sure to set aside extra time because this trail just doesn’t want to let up in the views department. You’ll want to keep taking photos throughout it.
Distance: 5 – 9 miles (depending on lake you visit); Elevation Gain: Up to 1,600 feet
This scenic body of water allows you to combine a hike with world-class fishing for brook and rainbow trout. To extend your adventure, continue onward to East Lake for more dramatic vistas and more fishing. This part of the Sierra is also home to the largest Aspen groves in the region, creating some of the most spectacular fall foliage for photography hunters as well.
Distance: 5.8 miles To Lower Treasure Lake; Elevation Gain: 1,384 feet
While the Bishop Pass trail head is a popular starting point, this alternative route is often overlooked for some of the bigger destinations near it. Along the way you’ll walk through stands of Aspen and pine forests. You’ll also find sections of granite alpine and even descend into an area filled with mountain streams and sorrel-covered forest floors. Finally arriving at the two picturesque lakes located at the foot of the talus slopes of Mount Thompson, Mount Goode, and Hurd Peak providing a dramatic backdrop you won’t soon forget.
As William Wordsworth once said: “A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.”
If you visit these high alpine lakes, we guarantee they’ll truly move you in ways you would normally never feel.