Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Wilderness Permits required. Trailhead quotas are (reserved-walking): Norris (6-4), Fernandez (13-8), Walton (5-4). Reservation fee is $5.00 per person, but walk-in permits are free. They can be obtained at the Bass Lake Ranger station in North Fork or the High Sierra Ranger station in Prather.
Need to Know
All rules for the Ansel Adams Wilderness apply. No campfires above 10,000 feet, and campfires are not allowed at many of the popular lakes.
The Fernandez Trail must have been built before the Walton Trail. It starts from the same parking lot, climbs 790 feet up a ridge and then drops back down 480 feet to the far end of the Walton Trail.
If you are looking to avoid all the climbing, it is recommended to take the shorter Walton Trail around the ridge.
The trail to Fernandez Pass branches off the Lillian Lake Loop
about 4.8 miles from the Fernandez Trailhead, near the top of a low rounded ridge.The trail signs point to Rutherford and Anne Lakes
. You'll not see a sign for Fernandez Pass until the final fork before those lakes.
Leaving the Lillian Lake Loop
, the trail climbs only about 300 feet over the first mile; however, this moderate climb is interrupted with short sections built with large rock steps where each step is about a foot high. After the first mile, the trail reaches the junction with the unmaintained Rainbow/Ruth Lakes trail.
This trail continues over and around a low rocky ridge and then drops slightly to Fernandez Creek and the junction with the Post Pass Trail. In mid-July 2019, the only way across the creek was to wade through knee-deep water. The entire area for about a mile was marshy and mosquito-infested. From the creek, the trail climbs gradually at first, and then more steeply to the Rutherford/Anne Lakes trails. Anne Lake has great campsites and Rutherford Lake is one of the more beautiful in the Sierras.
From this junction, it is another 1.6 miles and 700 feet in elevation to the top of the pass. There are great views of Mt. Ritter and the Minarets and across the giant basin surrounding Clover Meadow and on to the mountain ridges that extend across the entire eastern skyline.
Shared By: Lee Watts