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Glacier Lodge to Palisade Glacier

 4.9 (14)
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17.9 Miles 28.8 Kilometers

4,704' 1,434 m


-4,703' -1,434 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (27°)

12,419' 3,785 m


7,820' 2,384 m




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

Daniel Birdwell

Dogs Leashed

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


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Your Check-Ins


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
Oct 21, 2016
Adam Ashor
7 inches of snow! 12mi
Sep 11, 2016
Matt Canale

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 14 votes


  4.9 from 14 votes
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198 Views Last Month
10,033 Since Apr 13, 2016
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Overall, this is an awesome hike. Spent first night on Sam Mack meadow (5 hours from trailhead) and hiked to Palisade glacier the next morning. Decided to spent another night at Sam Mack and hiked down to the trailhead in about 3 hours. The route reflected in the app is not accurate from Sam Mack Meadow to Palisade Glacier. Follow the sign once you get to Sam Mack meadow for the updated route. The final stretch to the glacier from Sam Mack meadow gets a bit technical about 45 minutes into the hike with lots of loose rocks and boulders, and no visible trail. Follow the stone piles that people have made in the past and you'll get there. The views from the first three lakes on the way up are great. Many people choose to camp by the lakes instead and avoid the short but demanding hike up to Sam Mack meadow. If the day is warm enough you might even choose to go for a plunge there. One piece of advice: Do not forget your water filter! While you will encounter an endless number of water sources that might look pristine to you, remember that dogs and horses are allowed on this trail and their waste might end up in these streams. Aug 26, 2018

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