From Hwy. 395, turn west on Crocker Street in Big Pine
and continue approx. 10 miles up canyon to end of road.
Day use parking is at road's end. Overnight parking
is located about 1/2 mile below end of road in the hiker
7,800 ft. at road's end.
7,700 ft. at overnight parking lot.
Trail Description North Fork Trail
The North Fork trail offers access to Big Pine Lakes
and the Palisades Glacier, the largest glacier in the
Sierra. The Palisade Crest rising above 14,000 ft. contains
some of the finest alpine climbing in California.
The Big Pine Lakes trail zigzags through a slope of
sage, manzanita, and Jeffrey Pine before it reaches
a second falls and follows along the creek to its headwaters.
The flowers in early summer are abundant along the path
leading into the canyon. Hikers will pass a stone cabin
built by movie actor Lon Chaney while walking through
a forest of lodgepole pine. A junction in the trail
will go up to Black Lake, where splendid views of the
Palisades Glacier and Crest can be seen. The trail from
Black Lake will rejoin the main trail near 4th Lake.
Following the main trail will take hikers past Lakes
1,2, & 3. Third Lake is fed directly from the Palisades
Glacier, which causes its milky turquoise color from
the glacial powder carried down from the melting glacier.
The imposing dark mountain above 3rd Lake is Temple
Crag. Fishermen can find rainbow trout in most of the
lakes in the canyon with the higher lakes containing
golden trout. Be sure to carry out all empty bait containers
and trash while hiking or fishing.
The trail to the Palisades Glacier is about 1/2 mile
above 3rd lake. Turn left and follow switchbacks up
among grassy benches and boulders to Sam Mack Meadow.
Whitebark Pine survives the climate up high with several
types of alpine flowers growing on the seemingly soil-less
area. About the last 1/2 mile to the glacier requires
much boulder hopping and the trail is very obscure.
Hikers can meander safely along the lower part of the
glacier where the slope is gentle, but should avoid
the upper reaches unless well-experienced on ice and
Trail Description South Fork Trail
The South Fork trail (an obscure footpath) climbs
up beneath the jagged peaks of the Middle Palisade Crest
and gives access to the Middle Palisade Glacier. Along
the trail are a few gnarled Limber Pines growing on
the steep slopes below Willow Lake. The few lakes in
this drainage contain both Brook and Golden Trout. The
trail above Willow Lake becomes indistinct with rock
ducks marking the way to the upper lakes.
Trail Description Grouse Spring/Baker Creek
The Baker Creek trail is now seldom used, for the
creek can be reached by a jeep road from Bishop. This
trail provides spectacular views of the Palisade Crest.
It takes in the canyons of both forks of Big Pine Creek.
The trail starts at a junction off the North Fork trail.
There it crosses a ridge and winds through a stand of
Jeffrey Pine that had been logged back in the 1880's.
It then climbs past Grouse Spring to a high point on
a gentle ridge where views of the Middle Palisade and
Disappointment Peak tower above the glacier. To the
north, Mt. Sill (14,162) and the North Palisade (14,242)
loom over the Palisades Glacier. Further north, are
the high rolling meadows of Baker Creek and Coyote Flat,
a remnant of an ancient plain that existed before warping
and faulting formed the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.