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King Creek Trail



3.3 mile 5.4 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,079' 329 m
Descent: -246' -75 m
High: 9,562' 2,915 m
Low: 8,594' 2,620 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 32% (18°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Lee Watts

Follows beautiful King Creek to Ashley Lake with side trails to Fern and Anona Lakes.

Lee Watts

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Wilderness permits are required for overnight trips. Permits are issued at Inyo National Forest visitor centers. Quota of 10 people permitted to start overnight trips on the Fern Lake/Summit Meadow trail each day. Usage is light, so this is not usually a problem. They also have some walk-in permits. You cannot drive to Reds Meadow; you must take a shuttle bus. Call Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center for more shuttle information: (760) 924-5500.

Need to Know

No campfires at Fern, Anona, Ashley, Holcomb or Beck Lakes; and no campfires above 10,000 feet. Bear-resistant food storage containers are required. All regulations for Ansel Adams Wilderness apply.


Start from Shuttle Stop #6 in front of the Devils Postpile Visitor Center. It is less that a mile to the junction with the John Muir Trail where there is a bridge across the river. Follow the Summit Meadow Trail about 4.4 miles to the King Creek/Fern Lake junction, which is 1,100 feet in elevation above the Soda Springs campground.

The King Creek Trail drops slightly over 0.8 miles to the creek and trail coming from Fern Lake. Fern Lake is only a short distance away. It has good campsites and a small beach on the southwest shore. The King Creek Trail continues a gentle descent past several wet meadows and ponds for another mile, until it reaches the creek coming from Anona Lake at the spot where it flows into King Creek. You'll have dropped a total of only about 150 feet from the Summit Meadow Trail. From there, make a moderately steep climb for 0.8 miles across open rocky slopes with views of the almost continuous cascades of King Creek.

Crossing King Creek will require wading during the early snow melt, but this is usually not a major difficulty. Just across the creek is the junction with a trail that leads to the Beck Lake Trail. Turn left, following the stream, and make a moderate uphill climb for the next 0.75 miles to the junction with the trail to Holcomb Lake.

Continue following King Creek until the trail disappears. From there, you can easily pick a path across the rocky basin until you reach Ashley Lake, as long as you don't drift too far from the creek. There are few good campsites at the lake, but there are great views towards Iron Mountain and its glacier. It is much more scenic than Holcomb Lake.

Flora & Fauna

Willow, elderberry, corn lily, mountain hemlock, lodgepole, and, near the Ashley Lake, whitebark pine. I am not sure if mosquitoes are considered as fauna, but there can be lots of them shortly after the snow melt. When I went, while there was still snow and ice around the lakes, mosquitoes were not much of a problem.

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3 Views Last Month
51 Since Jul 5, 2019



Cascade on King Creek with Iron Mountain in background
Jul 5, 2019 near Mammoth…, CA
Ashley Lake and Iron Mountain, with permanent snow field on the left.
Jul 5, 2019 near Mammoth…, CA


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