Commonly Backpacked · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers
Wilderness permits are required. There are daily trail quotas, if you come up the Pine Creek Pass trail, but not if you enter form Florence Lake. Pine Creek Pass permits are a little easier to obtain than for some of the more popular trails. No campfires are allowed above 10,000 feet.
I only hiked to the top of the pass from the east side. For that part, I had little trouble following the trail, which was marked with many ducks\cairns and had a visible foot trail, except where it crossed rocks. The trail has a few spots where it is very rough for short distances. I had to use my hands and knees in a couple of places, while going up, and the seat of my pants coming down. I met hikers who said that from Jumble Lake to the west end of Lake Italy, a lot of the trail has been buried by landslides, making hiking slow and difficult. Steve Roper in "Timberline Country, The Sierra High Route" describes enormous, unstable blocks of granite on the south side of Lake Italy.
The sign at the Pine Creek Trail points to Honeymoon Lake, which is only a couple hundred yards away. Just before you reach the lake, there is a sign for the Italy Pass Trail. The trail climbs a little and then drops to the south end of the lake. Here you have to cross over a rock slide for about 40 yards. There is a well laid rock path for about 8 feet on both sides of the slide. After that, it is easy to follow the path through the trees until you get to some annoying ups and downs between 11,200 and 11,400 feet. At 11,400 feet, the large lake to the south is the most beautiful on the trail.
At 11,600 you enter the wide open Granite Park, with steep cliffs and permanent snow to the south and Italy Pass and Mt. Julius Caesar to the northwest. From here it is possible to follow the trail by going carefully from one duck to the next, although it doesn't make much difference how you go until you get very close to the pass. For the last 200 feet in elevation, the trail zigzags up the rocks, until the final steep, sandy section at the top, north of the lowest point of the pass.
Once you get a little down from the pass, hiking looks fairly easy until Jumble Lake. You can also see a pass that leads off-trail to White Bear Lake and the rest of the Bear lakes, a far more beautiful area than Lake Italy.
Shared By: SpencerB BB