Hikes in Inyo National Forest

Below is a collection of trails in Inyo National Forest. These hikes are listed from south to north, but the table may also be sorted alphabetically or by distance to help you select your next trek. Each trail links to its own report complete with photos, maps, directions, and all the other information needed to locate and enjoy these trails. You can also view hikes around Inyo National Forest on the Hike Finder Map.

Highlights of Inyo National Forest

  • This hike of 14 miles or more crosses a scenic stretch of the Sierra through pine forests, lakes, meadows, and streams to reach a stunning backcountry lake below Mount Ritter and Banner Peak.
  • This 7-mile round trip trail travels from Horseshoe Meadow to an 11,200-foot pass and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, with access to Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.
  • This scenic 10 to 15-mile round trip hike crosses a lake-filled basin in the John Muir Wilderness to access to New Army Pass, a 12,300-foot pass on the border of Sequoia National Park.
  • This 22-mile round trip trek travels past Cottonwood Lakes Trail over New Army Pass to a 14,042-foot summit with towering views of the Sierra.
  • This 8 to 9-mile day hike follows a secluded trail through mountain meadows to the South Fork Lakes and Cirque Lake.
  • This 12,900-foot summit in the John Muir and Golden Trout Wildernesses can be reached via off-trail ascents from New Army Pass, Cirque Lake, and Chicken Spring Lake.

Hiking Inyo National Forest

It is hard to discuss Inyo National Forest without loading up your backpack for a trek into the high sierra. This incredible region of California features staggering summits, epic glaciers, crystal clear lakes, and pristine pine forests. It is truly a hiker’s delight. Within the nearly 3,000 square miles of Inyo National Forest, there are several distinct federally protected wilderness areas, including Golden Trout Wilderness and John Muir Wilderness. Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48, is located on the edge of Inyo National Forest, as well as several 13,000-foot and 14,000-foot peaks. Inyo National Forest borders Sequoia National Park and contains several trails that cross the bother into that breathtaking backcountry.

Many of the trails below begin from Horseshoe Meadow and continue north and west into wilderness areas extending into Sequoia National Park.

Trail
Description
Distance
Location
Thousand Island Lake243Thousand Island Lake
This exceptional lake is a true gem of the Sierra, reached via a section of Pacific Crest Trail through Ansel Adams Wilderness near Mammoth Lakes.
18 miles
1,515 feet
37.682865,
-119.0847
Shadow Lake245Shadow Lake
This hike crosses a picturesque canyon and passes a plunging cascade to visit a mountain lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness near Mammoth Lakes.
8.5 miles
750 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Ediza Lake246Ediza Lake
This hike ventures above Shadow Lake along a creek to a beautiful lake below Mount Ritter and Banner Peak.
15 miles
1,250 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Iceberg Lake247Iceberg Lake
This short extension off the trail to Ediza Lake heads to a higher lake in a sublime setting below a ridge of steep spires called the Minarets.
1 mile (extension)
510 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Garnet Lake249Garnet Lake
This beautiful lake along John Muir Trail lies between Shadow Lake and Thousand Island Lake, making it an ideal stop on a backpacking loop.
17.1 miles
1,860 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Ediza Lake - Thousand Island Lake Loop251Ediza Lake - Thousand Island Lake Loop
This multi-day trek incorporates sections of John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail to visit a series of stunning Sierra lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest.
25 miles
1,900 feet
37.682,
-119.086
Minaret Falls254Minaret Falls
This out and back hike from Devils Postpile National Monument connects with Pacific Crest Trail to reach the base of a waterfall that tumbles and slides down a rocky slope.
3 miles
125 feet
37.6299,
-119.0847
Rainbow Falls258Rainbow Falls
This hike passes the Devils Postpile Formation to reach an attractive 101-foot waterfall with rainbows in its mist.
5.1 - 5.25 miles
325 - 435 feet
37.6299,
-119.0847
Cottonwood Pas700Cottonwood Pass
This trail leaves Horseshoe Meadow for an 11,200-foot pass and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail, with access to Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.
7 miles
1,200 feet
36.453638,
-118.21519
Chicken Spring Lake710Chicken Spring Lake
This hike continues past Cottonwood Pass to an alpine lake that makes a nice day hike destination or a good first camp for backpackers.
8.2 miles
1,330 feet
36.455588,
-118.226842
Old Cottonwood Creek Trail720Old Cottonwood Creek Trail
This hike follows a secluded trail through mountain meadows to the South Fork Lakes and Cirque Lake.
8 - 9 miles
1,150 feet
36.482197,
-118.212422
Cottonwood Lakes730Cottonwood Lakes
This scenic trail provides a day hike through a lake-filled basin and access to New Army Pass, a 12,300-foot pass on the border of Sequoia National Park.
10 - 15 miles
1,400 - 2,300 feet
36.486405,
-118.225265
Cirque Peak740Cirque Peak
This 12,900-foot summit can be reached via off-trail ascents from New Army Pass, Cirque Lake, and Chicken Spring Lake.
13 - 19 miles
2,900 feet
36.476732,
-118.237023
Lower Soldier Lake750Lower Soldier Lake in Sequoia National Park
This 19.2-mile loop crosses Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass to visit a beautiful lake that is an ideal camping spot for backpackers heading higher and deeper into the sierra.
17.6 -20.8 miles
1,500 - 2,300 feet
36.503604,
-118.269331
Mount Langley760Mount Langley in Sequoia National Park
This trek travels past Cottonwood Lakes Trail over New Army Pass to a 14,042-foot summit with towering views of the Sierra.
22 miles
4,000 feet
36.524419,
-118.238826
Sky Blue Lake770Sky Blue Lake in Sequoia National Park
This hike extends beyond Lower Soldier Lake up Miter Basin to a deep blue lake surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks.
26 miles
2,300 feet
36.532788,
-118.273494
Primrose Lake780Primrose Lake in Sequoia National Park This trek visits a lake off the side of Miter Basin near Sky Blue Lake and below Mount Pickering. 28 miles
2,300 feet
36.521144,
-118.276173
Mount Pickering790Mount Pickering in Sequoia National Park
This 13,485-foot summit rises above Sky Blue Lake to offer sweeping views of the sierra.
30 miles
3,500 feet
36.527133,
-118.290875
View Sierra Nevada trails and campgrounds in a larger map
Or explore hikes around Inyo National Forest on the Hike Finder Map
hikespeak
Ediza Lake - Thousand Island Lake Loop Ansel Adams Wilderness High Trail Hike Pacific Crest Trail John Muir Trail Thousand Island Garnet Ediza Lakes Loop Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains California
Ediza Lake – Thousand Island Lake Loop The Ediza Lake – Thousand Island Lake Loop is a top-tier backpacking circuit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Covering about 25 miles, the loop is usually done in three days of hiking (not including any additional layover days). The loop starts and ends at Agnew Meadows, located near Devils Postpile National Monument and the city... Read more.
By: Published: Last updated: April 17, 2016
Thousand Island Lake Ansel Adams Wilderness High Trail Hike Pacific Crest Trail Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains California
Thousand Island Lake is regarded as one of the most spectacular lakes in the Eastern Sierra. Banner Peak, a towering 12,936-foot mountain above the lake's west shore, is reflected in its clear blue water. The lake has numerous (if not a thousand) small islands. Both John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail pass Thousand Island Lake, giving hikers significant and scenic... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | | |
Distance: 8.75 miles – Elevation change: 1,515 feet
By: Published: Last updated: December 14, 2015
Garnet Lake Hike John Muir Trail Ansel Adams Wilderness Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains California
Garnet Lake is located on John Muir Trail between Shadow Lake and Thousand Island Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. The lake is stunning, set below the 12,936-foot mass of Banner Peak and framed by ridges of bedrock and pines. Hiking directly there, Garnet Lake is 8.55 miles from the trailhead at Agnew Meadows, so most of the lake's visitors are... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | | |
Distance: 5.65 miles – Elevation change: 1130 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 25, 2016
Iceberg Lake Hike Ansel Adams Wilderness Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains California Iceberg Lake Trail from Ediza Lake
Cradled below a jagged ridge of volcanic peaks called the Minarets, Iceberg Lake is a beautiful, potentially snow-bordered or ice-filled lake of vivid blue water. The backcountry lake is located deep in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest, 8.3 miles from the trailhead at Agnew Meadows. Iceberg Lake is just a mile from Ediza Lake and a nice extension for the... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | |
Distance: 2 miles – Elevation change: 510 feet
By: Published: Last updated: October 11, 2015
Ediza Lake Ansel Adams Wilderness Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains California Shadow Creek Trail Ediza Lake Hike
With high summit-reflecting waters, Ediza Lake is beautiful to behold. The lake is wrapped by meadows and trees and sports massive views of Mount Ritter and Banner Peak, making it a popular destination for hikers in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. Starting from Agnew Meadows near Mammoth Lakes, Ediza Lake is reachable on a rewarding full day hike of... Read more.
    OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
    OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with: | | | |
Distance: 15 miles – Elevation change: 1250 feet
By: Published: Last updated: April 17, 2016