Little Lakes Valley

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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Little Lakes Valley


  • On the way to Gem Lakes.- Little Lakes Valley
  • This backpacker hung up his food, and the bear made short work of it.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Gem Lakes.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Lots of bears as you near Morgan Pass.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Rock Creek looking southwest.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Rock Creek.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Great dark skies from the trailhead.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Entering the John Muir Wilderness.- Little Lakes Valley
  • The Sierra Crest from the trail.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Early wildflowers.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Mack Lake.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Marsh Lake.- Little Lakes Valley
  • Long Lake.- Little Lakes Valley
  • - Little Lakes Valley
Overview + Weather
Mountain lakes. Amazing scenery. Wildflowers. Easy hike. Bears.
Popular hiking destination. Parking can be tough in summer. Bears.
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, CA
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
850.00 ft (259.08 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.00 mi (11.27 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
10,300.00 ft (3,139.44 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Widely considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the eastern Sierra

, the glacier carved Little Lakes Valley is definitely one of the easiest hikes that allows access to the lakes and scenery of the High Sierra. This is due to the fact that your car will be doing most of the climbing for you: the trailhead elevation is 10,300 feet. There are no parking permits required, but the trailhead parking lot fills fairly quickly on summer weekends, and there are no permits required for day hikes. Wilderness permits are required for overnight excursions into the valley, however.  

At the trailhead there are signs educating hikers about bears, and these should be heeded. There is plenty of bear activity in the area, and bear cannisters are required for overnight trips. The hike is a very gradual climb, and the scenery kicks in early with Mack Lake appearing less than a third of a mile into the hike, making this hike one of the best introductions for children and newcomers to the glories of alpine hiking. From there you will follow Rock Creek as it flows from lake to lake until the last lake in the chain, Gem Lakes. After Gem Lakes, people can continue on through Morgan Pass or turn around and head back to the trailhead.  

The trip is easily done as a long day trip or as a leisurely backpacking trip. Fish, including the native California golden trout, are in all of the lakes, so many people bring fly fishing rods to fish the waters here. The entire trail hugs the tree line of the Sierra with plants that grow at the highest elevations, including limber pines and whitebark pines. Wildflowers are most common in mid- to late July, but they can be seen in late June to early July depending on the year.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(16 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(44 within a 30 mile radius)

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