Hiking Project Logo

black Glacier Lodge to Palisade Glacier

  4.9 ( 14 ) Favorite


17.9 mile 28.8 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 4,704' 1,434 m
Descent: -4,703' -1,434 m
High: 12,419' 3,785 m
Low: 7,820' 2,384 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 51% (27°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

A beautiful route below towering peaks to one of the few surviving California glaciers.

Daniel Birdwell

Features Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers


This High Sierra route passes beautiful lakes and winds its way under tall peaks all in an alpine environment. If this doesn't sound enticing enough, it culminates at a view of one of California's few remaining glaciers.


This is a fairly long route, but it's quite reasonable as far as elevation gain goes. The trail from Glacier Lodge slowly climbs into the alpine. You start higher up on the hillside, and then after several miles the trail converges with the creek at a waterfall. Here the trail takes you through a birch forest and past an old stone cabin, built by actor Lon Chaney in 1929-1930 and now owned by the USFS, in the area known as Cienega Mirth.

You'll eventually come out of the forested area into an area several hundred feet above the lakes to the east. The impressive Temple Crag is on the other side of the lakes. Pass lakes 1, 2, and 3 and then take an eastern fork of the trail towards the glacier.

Here is where the steep hiking starts. After topping out after the first section of steep terrain, you'll find the Sam Mack Meadows. These flat meadows provide a good place to camp for your first night.

From there, it again climbs steeply from this basin over several ridges lines and then finally, onto the glacier. After Sam Mack, expect a little more difficulty finding the trail, as there is a lot of rock, and very little soil. Once at the glacier, enjoy the view!

Once you've had your fill at the top, turn around and retrace your steps back to the lodge.

Flora & Fauna

Trees: lodgepole pine, Jeffery pines, whitebark pine (at highest elevations).
Wildflowers along streams and in meadows: tiger lily, red-orange paintbrush, white rein orchis, red columbine
Wildflowers at high elevations: alpine columbine, white heather, blue sky-pilot

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, History & Background

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Jul 16, 2019
Hayley Riggins
Jul 6, 2019
Marina L
Start 7:30am, back at 6pm. the first stretch of the trail up to aspen grove is sandy and exposed to sun, significant sun cover recommended if start…
Aug 24, 2018
Jorge Alvrz
Great views and mostly straightforward. Gets a bit technical with lose boulders on the final stretch to Palisade glacier. 18mi — 9h 00m
Oct 29, 2017
mountain dude 101
Sep 20, 2017
Gela Malek Pour
Camped at Sam Mack Meadows for 2 nights, attempted to climb the glacier but had to turn back about a mile out due to unsafe conditions. 15.9mi
Sep 17, 2017
Gela Malek Pour
Aug 15, 2017
Shin Yamamoto
Three day backpacking trip 17.9mi
Nov 13, 2016
Danilo Ćalić

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 14 votes


  4.9 from 14 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in California


455 Views Last Month
11,053 Since Apr 13, 2016
Difficult Difficult


Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking