• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    32 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2400 Feet

Forest
Lake
Swimming Hole

The hike is a long haul, but the reward is a remote lake at the base of Red Peak Pass. 

The hike begins at Mono Meadows trailhead along Glacier Point Road, first descending 2.8 steep miles to Illilouette Creek. Above the Illilouette Junction, take in views of the Valley's granite domes before beginning the post-burn forested slog. The trail covers an additional 10 miles of relatively ho-hum trail, skirting the epic Mount Starr King and gaining elevation slowly but surely. This section can be quite warm with few water sources in late summer. Be sure to check in with a wilderness station about trail and water conditions prior to your trip.

At the Merced Pass Junction, stay left towards Ottoway Lakes and Red Peak Pass. The last 3.1 miles gets more beautiful with every step as you rise from the forest into rocky slope heaven. Lower Ottoway Lake is the perfect basecamp with clean and clear water, an amazing backdrop, and nice campsites.

Enjoy a night or two at the lake, with side trips up to Red Peak Pass and Upper Ottoway Lake. Pro tip: use your sleeping pad as a floatie toy!

Pack List

  • Wilderness permit
  • Bear canister
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • First Aid Kit + 10 Essentials
  • A good book 
  • Water (at least 3 liters) + treatment method
  • Stove, fuel, food
  • Warm clothing for high elevation camping
  • Camera
  • Sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses)
  • Trekking poles
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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

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Emily Noyd

Wilderness ranger in Yosemite National Park. Raised by Washington mountains and Puget Sound islands. I live for sunrise, backcountry cooking, climbing, roadtrips, and coffee.

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