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Thousand Island Lake via Agnew Meadows

Madera County, California

based on 2 reviews



19.6 miles

Elevation Gain

3642 ft

Route Type



Added by The Outbound Collective

One of the most picturesque views in all of the Eastern Sierras and the backdrop to one of Ansel Adam's most iconic photographs of Banner Peak. It will be the best 2-4 days of your life.

Start from Agnew Meadows about 7 miles away. You can take the High Trail out as part of the River Trail with a long detour passing by several other scenic lakes, including Shadow Lake, Garnet Lake, and Ruby Lake. You will arrive at Thousand Island Lake a few hours after lunch, just in time to set up camp, nap, and then have dinner.

If you're heading down Minaret Road (SR 203) to get to the Agnew Meadows trailhead during the summer, it's closed to passenger vehicles beyond Minaret Summit from 7am to 7:30pm. During that time, you have to ride the shuttle ($7 per person) from the Mammoth Mountain Inn into Devil's Postpile National Monument. For more information on the shuttle, see here. If you're looking to get an early start or are coming back late, the gates are unmanned.

Please note this trail is dog friendly on-leash. 

Camp along Thousand Island Lake for 3 nights and find some great side trips:

  • Day 1: Hike in, set up camp
  • Day 2: Short hike to Lake Catherine & back, stay up to stargaze
  • Day 3: Long hike around Waugh Lake followed by well-deserved nap
  • Day 4: Hike out, drive to Mammoth for burgers & beer

Permits are required for all overnights in the area and can be made at rec.gov

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Dog Friendly

Thousand Island Lake via Agnew Meadows Reviews

This is a fantastic backpacking trip. There are several options for your itinerary but spend as much time as possible around Thousand Island Lake. Set your alarm for the early morning to get an unbelievable view of the Milky Way. Camp sites around the trail get a little crowded, but head toward the northwest area of the lake and you will get more secluded options. The water is cold, but don't pass on jumping in with such a phenomenal backdrop.

Fantastic spot! Bring your camera, stay up late and watch the stars. This is a wildly popular backcountry spot because the JMT (John Muir Trail) runs through this area. Try to get to the lake earlier in the day to pick a great campsite. Bear cans are a must out here.

Thousand Island Lake is the most Photographic Lake in the Yosemite Backcountry.

Lots of mosquitoes when I did this so be prepared.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Ansel Adams' Garnet Lake

Climb Mount Ritter

Backpack to Waugh Lake

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