4-Day Backpack Trip to Thousand Island Lake

Added by Aaron Bird

One of the most picturesque views in all of the Eastern Sierras and the backdrop to one of Ansel Adam's most iconic photographs of Banner Peak. It will be the best 4-days of your life.

Start from Agnew Meadows about 7 miles away. You can take the High Trail out as part of the River Trail with a long detour passing by several other scenic lakes, including Shadow Lake, Garnet Lake, and Ruby Lake. You will arrive at Thousand Island Lake a few hours after lunch, just in time to set up camp, nap, then have dinner.

If you're heading down Minaret Road (SR 203) to get to the Angnew Meadows trailhead during the summer, it's closed to passenger vehicles beyond Minaret Summit from 7am to 7:30pm. During that time, you have to ride the shuttle ($7 per person) from the Mammoth Mountain Inn into Devils Postpile National Monument. For more information on the shuttle, see here. If you're looking to get an early start or are coming back late, the gates are unmanned.

Camped along Thousand Island Lake for 3 nights:
  • Day 1: Hike in, set up camp
  • Day 2: Short hike to Lake Catherine & back, stayed up to stargaze
  • Day 3: Long hike around Waugh Lake followed by well deserved nap
  • Day 4: Hike out, drive to Mammoth for burgers & beer
Read More

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Slice of Heaven

This is a fantastic backpacking trip. There are several options for your itinerary but spend as much time as possible around Thousand Island Lake. Set your alarm for the early morning to get an unbelievable view of the Milky Way. Camp sites around the trail get a little crowded, but head toward the northwest area of the lake and you will get more secluded options. The water is cold, but don't pass on jumping in with such a phenomenal backdrop.

Fantastic spot! Bring your camera, stay up late and watch the stars. This is a wildly popular backcountry spot because the JMT (John Muir Trail) runs through this area. Try to get to the lake earlier in the day to pick a great campsite. Bear cans are a must out here.

Thousand Island Lake is the most Photographic Lake in the Yosemite Backcountry.

Lots of mosquitoes when I did this so be prepared.

Stay Nearby

Crowley Lake, California

Agnew Meadows Group Camp

Overview Agnew Meadows Group Campground is located in the Reds Meadow Valley section of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, just west of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes, California. Po...

Unnamed Road

Palisades Group Campground

Overview Palisades Group Campground lies along Rock Creek in Inyo National Forest, near Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California. Well-suited for large families and groups, the facility provides access...

Mammoth Lakes, California

Chic Condo W/ Pool, Hot Tub & Ski Back Trail

•• Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20, and associated guidance of the California Public Health Officer, continue to apply statewide. These advise Californians to “avoid traveling long distan...

From $132/night

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mt. Retreat W/ Sleep Number Beds Walk To Slopes

•• Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20, and associated guidance of the California Public Health Officer, continue to apply statewide. These advise Californians to “avoid traveling long distan...

From $240/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Backpack to Waugh Lake

    There are several trailheads you can start at to get to the lake, but we chose the River Trail in Agnew Meadows because it was the only trailhead that hadn't met the quota yet. You can check on permit's and trailheads here. If the River Trail is b...

    11 miles 1000 ft gain

  • Climb Mount Ritter

    Mt Ritter is a long climb, but it is worth the effort. Start out by establishing camp at Ediza Lake prior to your ascent. The SE Glacier route (first ascent by John Muir) follows the path of least resistance up the SE side of Mt Ritter.The route f...

  • Backpack to Ediza Lake

    Start at the Agnew Meadows Trailhead. You will need to arrive before 7:30AM or take the Shuttle from Mammoth Mountain.Start out by heading north on the John Muir Trail. You will pass Shadow Lake; walk around the south side of the lake for mountain...

    13.4 miles 1200 ft gain

  • Backpack Ansel Adams' Banner Lake

    Banner Lake is one of the premier stops along the Pacific Crest Trail. However, even if you don't have time for an entire thru-hike (like most of us), this beautiful lake is still easily accessible as an overnight trip! While there are many poss...

    15.6 miles 1307 ft gain