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Glacier Lodge to Palisade Glacier

Difficult
 4.9 (15) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

17.9

Miles

28.8

KM

Out and Back

12,419' 3,785 m

High

7,820' 2,384 m

Low

4,704' 1,434 m

Up

4,703' 1,434 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

51%

Max Grade (27°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Overview

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.

Description

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

Contacts

Shared By:

Daniel Birdwell with improvements by Mark Osterman

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 15 votes

#347

Overall
  4.9 from 15 votes
5 Star
93%
4 Star
7%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#57

in California

#347

Overall
453 Views Last Month
13,954 Since Apr 13, 2016
Difficult

0%
0%
8%
0%
83%
8%

Photos

Temple Crag.
Apr 7, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
Norman Clyde Peak over autumn woods
Apr 19, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
Cool view from Palisade Glacier.
Apr 7, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
Kid Mountain (~11,860 ft) stands across the valley as the trail ascends to the Baker Creek Trail junction.
Jun 21, 2017 near Big Pine, CA
Temple Crag sunrise.
Apr 14, 2016 near Big Pine, CA
Mount Alice and Temple Crag.
Apr 14, 2016 near Big Pine, CA

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 18 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Jul 17, 2020
JAMES TEJEDA
1st & 2nd lake
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
18mi
Sep 20, 2017
Gela MalekPour
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 MalekPour
Aug 15, 2017
Shin Yamamoto
Three day backpacking trip 17.9mi