Backpack to Garnet Lake
Yosemite › Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Added by Scott Nichols
This backpacking trip to Garnet Lake is recommended over 3 days / 2 nights. Enjoy secluded camping and spectacular mountain views.
Although this trip specifically describes how to get to Garnet Lake, there are several other pristine alpine lakes (Shadow Lake and Thousand Islands Lake) along this looped trail, only a few short miles away from each other, that are just as worthy if you have the time. A minimum of 3 days/2 nights is reccommended, but you can tackle this trek in a day if you don't have the luxury of time.
To pitch a tent, sip some spirits, and sleep under the stars at Garnet Lake, you want to start by parking at the Mammoth Mountain Village, where you can take the service shuttle to the Agnew Meadows parking lot/trailhead. The Agnew Meadows Trailhead starts at an elevation of about 8,400 ft. and dips into a canyon along the John Muir Trail at about 8,100 ft. Following the river trail along the canyon floor, you will continue tramping northwest past Olaine Lake to a fork in the trail. This fork is the start of a big loop - to the left is Shadow Lake Trail which leads you to...you guessed it, Shadow Lake and onwards to Garnet Lake. It's a fairly steep incline, but provides you with a magnificent backside view of Mammoth Mountain and the river valley you were just hiking through. You can also go right and follow the trail north along the river to Thousand Islands Lake. You can reach Garnet Lake either way.
Once you've tramped up to Shadow Lake (8,770') from the fork, this marks your halfway point to Garnet Lake. 3.5 miles down, 3.5 miles to go. The trail winds around the shore of Shadow Lake and elevates through a series of switchbacks topping out at about 10,000+ ft. This section of the trail provides stunning views of the Minarets and the Ansel Adams Wilderness - there are several lookout points which are perfect spots to relax and have a picnic, or snap photos of the Minarets. The pinnacle of this trail will lead you up to the tree-line and provide you with a breathtaking view of Garnet Lake (9,710') with Mt. Ritter (13,143') and Banner Peak (12,936') standing tall in the background. From here, hike down to the lake and pitch a tent anywhere you'd like out of view from the trail. Happy tramping!
ESSENTIAL PACK LIST:
- Backpacking essentials
- Sleeping bag
- Jetboil stove
OPTIONAL PACK ADDITIONS:
- Fishing rod/bait (great fishing)
- Camera gear
- Celebratory spirits
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Fishing, Hiking, Photography
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
More Adventures Nearby
Rock Climb Penthouse Cracks, Yosemite NP
Yosemite / Yosemite Lodge Parking Area
The Penthouse Cracks in Yosemite Valley are a great introduction to crack climbing, in a safe environment. With fixed protection above the routes, you are able to safely top rope these climbs.
Hike Panum Crater Trail
Yosemite / Panum Crater Trail
If you are visiting Mono Lake, the Panum Crater Trail is not to be missed! From 395, take highway 120 east for about 2.5 miles.