Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Trail type
1.00 mi (1.61 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.

Red Lake is one of the smaller lakes in the Eastern Sierra's Virginia Lakes area inside the Hoover Wilderness.

Set nearby the parking area at the end of Virginia Lakes Road, many visitors head straight to banks of Big Valley Lake. While many other scenic lakes and waterfalls lie along the Virginia Lakes Trail, the 9 acre Red Lake may be one of easiest to access. Reached on an easy .3 hike, Red Lake sits at the basin of the mountain slopes, with scenic views across Big Valley Lake from an elevated viewpoint. 

Red Lake has restrictions against motorized watercraft, making it an ideal spot for swimming or bringing inflatable tubes on a warm day. The lake is also a popular spot with fisherman for the brook and brown trout.

The most confusing part is reaching the lake, as the trail cuts past some private rental cabins. From the parking area, hikers can head to the left, picking up the trail behind the picnic benches. Upon reaching the outflow creek from Big Valley Lake, hikers can either cross the stream near the waterfall, or descend to the small traffic bridge. Proceed up and past the two private cabins, where the trail picks up and begins a short gradual climb above the western bank of Big Valley Lake before emerging through some brush to the near shore of Red Lake. 

A use path continues around the lake, and this hike can be done as a lollipop route circling the lake before returning to the trailhead via the same path.

There are no flat shores at Red Lake, however the waterfall flowing down the slope on the north side of the lake is interesting and can be reached via the use path and a scramble up the rocks.

From Red Lake, visitors can return the way they came to the parking area.

A vault toilet and several picnic benches are available at the parking area, however there is no water. During summer, food is available at Virginia Lake Resort, otherwise Lee Vining is the nearest location. There is no cel service available at Virginia Lakes.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



No motorized boats allowed. Short hike to access.


Limited warm season.

Trailhead Elevation

9,835.00 ft (2,997.71 m)

Highest point

9,885.00 ft (3,012.95 m)


Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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