Joy celebrating after a long steep climb to Garnet Lake
Garnet Lake
Distance: 14.1 Miles (roundtrip)
Starting Elevation:  8,070 feet
Ending Elevation: 9,710 feet
High Elevation: 10,100 feet
Elevation Gain: 2,030 feet
Topo Maps: Mammoth Mtn., Mt. Ritter
Trailhead: Agnew Meadows

This Loop trip is possibly the most scenic hike in the Devil's Postpile area.  The long distance, high elevation, and rough trail discourage most hikers from attempting this hike.

This trip starts at Agnew Meadows along the River Trail. It passes Olaine Lake (8,070') after approximately 2 miles.  After leaving Olaine Lake, the River Trail continues along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.

After fording the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin, the trail climbs very steeply along a series of switchbacks.  After the switchbacks, the trail appears to dead-end along a boulder field with a waterfall to the North-East and several small trails to the West.  The correct trail is a very steep Class 2 scramble up the boulder field.

After negotiating the boulder field, you cross a pass and Garnet Lake is visible.  From this high point, Garnet Lake is very beautiful with grand views of Banner Peak (12,936') and Mt. Ritter (13,143') in the background.

Banner Peak on the right and Mt. Ritter on the left

This is where the San Joaquin exits Garnet Lake

After leaving Garnet Lake, the trail follows the South shore along the John Muir Trail, then climbs steeply to a pass at this trails high point of 10,100'.  This high point offers spectacular views of the lake and the Ritter Range.

After a 1,300' descent you approach Shadow Lake (8,790').

View of the Minarets before approaching Shadow Lake
on the John Muir Trail

Shadow Lake viewed from the John Muir Trail

After leaving Shadow Lake, you follow the Shadow Lake trail back to Agnews Meadows.

I get many e-mails out this trip, I guess it is the beautiful scenery.  I've created this Travel Tips section to help answer the common questions, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Travel Tips
Where - The entrance used in for this trip is in Devil's Postpile.  There is only one way to get
  to Devil's Postpile, through the town of Mammoth (203 off highway 395).
When - The entrance to Devil's Postpile is typically open June/July through November/December
  (depending on the smowmelt).
Maps - Each trail description in this website has a "Topo Maps:" section in the description. This
  lists each USGS 7.5' map required to follow the trail from start to finish.
Lodging - You can stay anywhere in the town of Mammoth (plenty of places to eat, sleep, etc...).  If
  you want to tent camp, the Devil's Postpile area has numerous campsites.  With the exception of
  Reds Meadows, none of hot water or showers, but they do have cold water and pit toilets.
Backpacking - There are many places to backpack within the Ansel Adams Wilderness (including at Garnet
  Lake).  All require a wilderness permit and you must stay in designated campsites.  Be forewarned, the
  Ansel Adams Wilderness has plenty of bears.  Especially the Garnet Lake / 1,000 Island area.
Fishing - Fishing at Garnet Lake and 1,000 Island Lake is great.  Brook and Rainbow trout are large
  and plentiful.

Trail Tips
Acclimate - This trail is at high elevation.  If possible, acclimate in Mammoth or the Devils Postpile
  before attempting this trip
Be prepared for weather changes - The weather changes very quickly in the Sierras, be prepared.
   Although the pictures on this page show very nice weather, in about 30 minutes a storm came in and we got
   rained on.

Trip References:
Winnett, Thomas, Winnett, Jason, Haber, Lyn. 1991.  Sierra North: 100 back-country trips.  Berkeley: Wilderness Press, p. 233-234 (trip #76).

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All pages copyright © 1999-2004 Craig Iwata.                                             The California Hiking Page
This page last changed 7 June, 2004