A spectacular day hike where you can experience what the John Muir Wilderness is notorious for: alpine lakes, scenic views and bold granite formations.

If you are considering this hike, then I am sure you are already familiar with the undeniable beauty that the Eastern Sierra radiates. Any season, any time- it is there. One of my particular favorites for a day hike to experience this beauty is the trek to Emerald Lake outside of Bishop.

From Bishop, take the 168 east for about 18 miles. One thing to note: if you are coming here during the fall season, a stop in the small town of Aspendell on the way to the lake is mandatory. Like the name represents, this town is lined with aspens which means that in the fall, they yield some of the most spectacular warm colors that you will see in California.

The trailhead is clearly marked at the Sabrina Basin. The first stretch of the hike parallels Lake Sabrina and is fairly flat. The sheer peaks of the Sierras loom in front of you as you begin your ascent and leave the lake behind. For the next few miles you will dip in and out of lush pine, come to open views of the John Muir Wilderness, and climb a series of stone step switchbacks. This portion of the hike while gorgeous, is definitely the “butt burner” stretch. Don’t be discouraged, it is well worth the effort once you plateau at the top: Blue Lake awaits here.

Blue Lake is actually my favorite out of the lakes on this journey. Mt. Thompson looms above Lake Blue’s rich color where it derives its name. If you brought a lunch, this is the prime spot to park it and relax. The sights here are stunning. If you are looking for a shorter hike, then even this destination alone is worth it.

From here, you will forgo this trail at the junction near Blue Lake and instead head west on Dingleberry Trail (yes, Dingleberry). On the Dingleberry trail you will make your way through granite formations and eventually emerge at Emerald Lakes at the 3.6 mile mark.

Keep in mind that you are able to customize this hike to fit your agenda- you can always continue on to the other lakes on this series of trails if the sight of these lakes is only feeding your sense of adventure. If you are spent though, take in the sights and return again to the bottom of Sabrina Basin.

Pack List

  • Hiking gear
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Sunscreen (very exposed)
  • Camera
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RT Distance 7.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 1719 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildlife

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