Madera County, California

Backpack to Lower Merced Pass Lake

23 Miles Total - 880 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Melynda Bergen

Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more "Must-Go" places in Yosemite National Park, here it is! A perfect, picturesque lake away from all the crowds and noise of The Valley.

LMPL (let's be honest, the full name is a mouthful) is situated just below the crest of Merced Pass, and can be accessed by hiking south from Yosemite Valley, or north from Chiquito Pass. This is a stunning and much less crowded spot to camp, or a great way to access some of the less climbed mountains like Merced, Ottoway, or Red Peak. In this write-up, I will outline the route starting from the the south, at Quartz Mountain.

Getting to the Quartz Mountain parking lot requires a bit of backroad driving; however, a quick Google map search of Quartz Mountain Trailhead will show you the way! From there, it's half a mile to a wire fence that marks the park boundary. After that just follow the signs to Chiquito Pass, and then Merced Pass. Although the entire park is well signed, there are a few intersections on this section of trail without signs, so be sure to bring a good map. The total distance from car to camp is 11.5 miles with an overall elevation gain of 880 feet. This hike is exciting and diverse! You will cross little creeks, pass through shady forests, and wander through open meadows, all with awesome views of the Clark Range and distant Ansel Adams Wilderness. The trail is mostly single path, but very easy to make out!

LMPL is actually just off the trail, and you might pass it if not paying attention, so keep your eyes peeled once you make it over the crest of Merced Pass. Once you have arrived, you will find good spots to camp at the SE and NW corners of the lake. From here, take that pack off! And you know the rest!

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Tags

Camping
Photography
Running
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

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Secluded lake

When hiking from Glacier Point Road, LMPL is a reasonable distance to camp for strong hikers. I also recommend nearby Lower Ottoway Lake, about 3 miles from LMPL. After August, the creeks running between Merced Pass Lakes will be dry and the lake level will be low.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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