• Activities:

    Fishing, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

Dog Friendly
Food Nearby
Picnic Area

Great fishing for Brook, Rainbow, Browns, and the coveted Goldens"Sierra Grand Slam" opportunities! Epic views of the lakes and the Sierras. Easy access via Rock Creek Road.

Access to this relatively mellow (for the Sierras) trail can be reached via Rock Creek Road off of Highway 395, north of the town of Bishop, California. Following Rock Creek road southwest until its terminus will take you directly to the parking lot and signed trailhead for Little Lakes Valley.

From the parking lot the trail ascends gently through Little Lakes Valley, following meandering Rock Creek and passing several subalpine lakes along the way. Following the trail completely to the last lakes within the valley, the Gem Lakes, is approximately seven relatively easy miles one way. For those who wish to spend multiple days on the trail, several options to overnight exist as well with permit-required primitive camp areas at nearly every lake along the way.

This particular trip consisted of one day only, as I fly fished the majority of the lakes in the valley. Almost all of the lakes along the Little Lakes Valley trail contain fish, as well as many lakes just off the trail that are accessible by short cross country ventures. The species of fish present in the lakes consist mainly of a healthy mix of brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout, but if you are willing to make the cross country hike up to the Treasure Lakes (slightly farther than the Gem Lakes), you just may catch a coveted California golden trout. Catch all four species and you've landed yourself a Sierra Grand Slam!

Less than one half mile into the hike you will be greeted with grandiose views of the Sierra Crest, lush alpine meadows, and glistening emerald lakes. The scenery along this route is top notch, and the fishing is a blast.

It is also one of the easiest routes into the Sierra Nevada high country, as a result, it can be quite crowded (for the Sierras) during peak hiking season in mid-summer. A short jaunt off trail to one of the many adjacent lakes though will almost always find you seclusion and good fishing.

This trail is located in the John Muir Wilderness and as such, requires that any overnight excursions obtain permits first. Permits can be acquired online ahead of time at reserveamerica.gov or purchased in Bishop at the Ranger Station. Day use does not require a permit. Don't forget that you are at altitude and can be subject to sudden, violent thunder storms during summer months, or massive temperature variances during late Spring and Fall; always bring an insulation layer and rain jacket.

Pack List

  • 3-wt/6-piece Redington Classic Trout fly rod
  • Orvis Battenkill click drag reel
  • 6x tippet
  • Assortment of nymphs and dry flies size 16-20
  • ArcTeryx Beta FL rain shell
  • ArcTeryx Cerium down jacket
  • Sony NEX-6 camera
  • Mountain Hardwear Scramber 30L pack
  • Salomon X Ultra GTX boots
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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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