“A beautiful route below towering peaks to one of the few surviving California glaciers.
— Daniel Birdwell
Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
This High Sierra route passes beautiful lakes and winds its way under tall peaks all in an alpine environment. If this doesn't sound enticing enough, it culminates at a view of one of California's few remaining glaciers.
This is a fairly long route, but it's quite reasonable as far as elevation gain goes. The trail from Glacier Lodge slowly climbs into the alpine. You start higher up on the hillside, and then after several miles the trail converges with the creek at a waterfall. Here the trail takes you through a birch forest and past an old stone cabin, built by actor Lon Chaney in 1929-1930 and now owned by the USFS, in the area known as Cienega Mirth.
You'll eventually come out of the forested area into an area several hundred feet above the lakes to the east. The impressive Temple Crag is on the other side of the lakes. Pass lakes 1, 2, and 3 and then take an eastern fork of the trail towards the glacier.
Here is where the steep running starts. After topping out after the first section of steep terrain, you'll find the Sam Mack Meadows. These flat meadows provide a good place to camp for your first night.
From there, it again climbs steeply from this basin over several ridges lines and then finally, onto the glacier. After Sam Mack, expect a little more difficulty finding the trail, as there is a lot of rock, and very little soil. Once at the glacier, enjoy the view!
Once you've had your fill at the top, turn around and retrace your steps back to the lodge.
Flora & Fauna
Trees: lodgepole pine, whitebark pine (at highest elevations).
Wildflowers along streams and in meadows: tiger lily, red-orange paintbrush, white rein orchis, red columbine
Wildflowers at high elevations: alpine columbine, white heather, blue sky-pilot