Backpack the Shadows of the Minarets Loop

16 miles  - Loop Trail

Added by Bernice Ngo

My favorites: alpine lakes and mountains! Fishing spots at the lakes. 16-mile RT loop. Great weekend backpacking trip.

Ansel Adams Wilderness is located in Mammoth Lakes, California. The trail to Lake Ediza is frequently traveled and is usually completed as an out-and-back day hike. In the summer, from 7am-7pm the road to the trail head is inaccessible to cars. To reach the trailhead you must take the shuttle from Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort to Agnew Meadow.

The first big lake you'll come across is Shadow Lake, don't dwell too long. There are plenty more lakes to see on the way. At about 6 miles you come across Lake Ediza with Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak in the background. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Sierras.

Beyond Ediza and Iceberg Lake, the area is more remote. If backpacking, Iceberg Lake is a great place to make camp. It’s more remote and private than the lower lakes and it’s about halfway in the loop. Continuing past Iceberg Lake, there is no real trail and requires you to travel cross country. This is where the fun begins! Scramble along the sides of Iceberg Lake to Cecil Lake. Continue traversing from the north to the northeast side of Cecil and climb beyond the ridge. Once over the ridge you'll continue down to Minaret Lakes where you can rejoin the trail that will lead you Devils Postpile Trailhead to catch the shuttle. Make a side trip to see Devils Postpile National Monument and Rainbow Falls if you have the time.

Depending on the time of the year, bring mosquito repellent! June and July is mosquito season. All the lakes are great spots for fishing so bring a pole and try catching your dinner!

Read More

Tags

Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Dogs Possible for Full Loop?

This looks like an epic hike. Do you think dogs could handle the scramble from Iceberg Lake back over to the Minaret loop? I'm not too familiar with the area, but would love to try and bring our pups if it isn't too treacherous.

Arguably California's Best Scenery.

Most people prefer this route but we flipped it around and approached Minaret Lake first - which I highly recommend. While the initial approach is steeper, gaining the final saddle to Minaret Lake is like stepping into a Lord of the Rings movie. The Minarets (peaks) loom over you like granite sentries. The fly fishing is great too - we caught (and released) some healthy brook trout. I grew up exploring the wildest stretches of the Colorado and Montana Rockies, and this place rivals those in every way - save for Mountain Goats and Grizzlies - but that makes sleep all the more restful! I plan on coming back here once per summer for the rest of my life, no matter where I call home. Oh, and be mindful of the recommendation to do this hike in Spring... you will NEED ice axe and crampons to get between Cecile and Iceberg Lakes at a minimum (this can even be the case into early summer). Adventure beckons!

Stay Nearby

Crowley Lake, California

Agnew Meadows Group Camp

Overview Agnew Meadows Group Campground is located in the Reds Meadow Valley section of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, just west of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes, California. Po...

Unnamed Road

Palisades Group Campground

Overview Palisades Group Campground lies along Rock Creek in Inyo National Forest, near Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California. Well-suited for large families and groups, the facility provides access...

June Lake, California

Reversed Creek Campground

Overview Reversed Creek Campground is a small, shaded and private facility in the June Lake area of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Within a few miles, campers can access two lakes with fishin...

Mammoth Lakes, California

Chic Condo W/ Pool, Hot Tub & Ski Back Trail

•• Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20, and associated guidance of the California Public Health Officer, continue to apply statewide. These advise Californians to “avoid traveling long distan...

From $132/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Backpack to Waugh Lake

    There are several trailheads you can start at to get to the lake, but we chose the River Trail in Agnew Meadows because it was the only trailhead that hadn't met the quota yet. You can check on permit's and trailheads here. If the River Trail is b...

    11 miles 1000 ft gain

  • Climb Mount Ritter

    Mt Ritter is a long climb, but it is worth the effort. Start out by establishing camp at Ediza Lake prior to your ascent. The SE Glacier route (first ascent by John Muir) follows the path of least resistance up the SE side of Mt Ritter.The route f...

  • Backpack to Ediza Lake

    Start at the Agnew Meadows Trailhead. You will need to arrive before 7:30AM or take the Shuttle from Mammoth Mountain.Start out by heading north on the John Muir Trail. You will pass Shadow Lake; walk around the south side of the lake for mountain...

    13.4 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Backpack Ansel Adams' Banner Lake

    Banner Lake is one of the premier stops along the Pacific Crest Trail. However, even if you don't have time for an entire thru-hike (like most of us), this beautiful lake is still easily accessible as an overnight trip! While there are many poss...

    15.6 miles 1307 ft gain