Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
5,854.00 ft (1,784.30 m)
Trail type
36.20 mi (58.26 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Bear Creek to Lake Italy is a 36.2-mile out-and-back route through the John Muir Wilderness. It begins at Edison Lake, a popular backcountry destination located on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. Due to its proximity to the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses and the nearby Vermillion Valley Resort and Mono Creek Campground, this area makes an excellent backpacking base camp. This route combines several trails and is a popular destination for hiking, trail running, and backpacking. 

From Mono Campground, you can take the Bear Creek Cutoff Trail to the Bear Creek Trail, which runs parallel to Bear Creek. Take Bear Creek Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) / John Muir Trail (JMT) and head south. At the junction with the Lake Italy Trail, turn east and follow the trail to the lake. 

Lake Italy is located in a unique, and strikingly beautiful landscape of rocks, cliffs, and high mountains, many of which exceed 13,000 feet in elevation (Mount Hilgard, Mount Gabb, and Mount Julius Caesar). At the water's edge, there are patches of green grass and small sand beaches with scenic views. 

Return to Edison Lake by retracing your steps.


  • In contrast to the PCT/JMT, parts of the Lake Italy Trail are rocky, rugged, and poorly maintained. This trail is recommended for hikers with some backcountry experience.

  • No campfires above 10,000 ft. 

  • This is an active bear area that requires proper storage of food, trash and scented items. For more information about how to store your food and what qualifies as a bear proof container, please visit

WATER: Water that is collected from streams, rivers, and lakes should be treated before consumption. 

CAMPING AND PERMITS: Wilderness permits are required for overnight camping and can be reserved up to six months in advance through

PEAK BAGGING: Lake Italy offers easy access to Mount Hilgard and Mount Gabb, which are often climbed together. For more information please visit


Vermillion Valley Resort

Mono Creek Campground

White Mountain Visitor Center: 1- (760) 873-2500.

Wilderness Permit Information: 1-(760) 873-2483.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round





Stunning landscape. Remote alpine lakes.


Lake Italy Trail is not well maintained.

Trailhead Elevation

7,560.00 ft (2,304.29 m)

Highest point

11,233.00 ft (3,423.82 m)


Backcountry camping
Near lake or river
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required


Permit self-issue on site




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