Run or Hike to First and Second Lake via Big Pine Creek North Fork

    5.0
    10 miles 3000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

    Added by Clare Healy

    If you're looking for an easily accessible trail that drops you right into the vast beauty of the John Muir Wilderness, Big Pine Creek North Fork is one of your best options in the Eastern Sierra.

    The North Fork of Big Pine Creek is often cited as having the most unbelievable scenery reachable in a single day. And it's hard to disagree.

    The Big Pine Creek North Fork trail is just minutes outside of Big Pine off the 395. If going in the winter, access to the trailhead can be closed off, so always be sure to check conditions with the governing agency before going.

    From the start, this trail rises into California's High Sierra and heads straight toward the southernmost glaciers in the US - Palisade Glacier. Just below the glacier is 7 lakes, aptly named First Lake through Seventh Lake. 

    Right when you've had enough exposure and switchback climbing during the initial ascent of your trip, you'll be dropped into the John Muir Wilderness, which immediately greets you with gushing rivers, forested area, and a cabin. About one mile from the cabin, you will get your first glimpses of Temple Crag looming high above the trees which will keep you going until the end.

    While there are endless routes and overnighters you could do in this area, the trail to Second Lake and back is a perfect, yet strenuous day hike. The trailhead sits at 7,800 feet and over the course of out portion of the hike, climbs 3,000 feet more. You'll witness several peaks exceeding 14,000 feet en route including Mount Sill and Temple Crag, both home to some of the tallest (and most renown) rock climbing in the Sierra Nevada. 

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    Fishing
    Photography
    Running
    Hiking
    Bathrooms
    Dog Friendly
    Easy Parking
    Forest
    Lake
    River
    Scenic

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    Canadian Lakes in California

    These beautiful crystal blue lakes make you feel as though you’re in a far away destination like Banff, but they’re only a day drive away from California’s biggest cities! Quite a long hike, but more than worth it for the views!

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

    Stay Nearby

    Big Pine, California

    Big Pine Creek Campground

    Big Pine, California

    Upper Sage Flat

    Big Pine, California

    Big Pine Canyon

    South Lake Road

    Table Mountain (Inyo)

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