Fantastic lake and moutain views
This hike has the same starting point as the PCT - Agnew Meadows to Devils Postpile hike that I posted several years ago. The hike travels along the Agnew Meadows Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way the trail enters the Ansel Adams Wilderness. At this point you will want to take the right fork rather that the left fork that you would take for the PCT - Agnew Meadows to Devils Postpile hike. The PCT descends the side of a cliff toward the canyon floor.
Once on the canyon floor you are at the lowest elevation of the hike at a little over 8,000 feet. The hike along the canyon floor is relatively flat.
A little more than half way between the Agnew Meadows Trail and the Shadow Lake Trail is Olaine Lake. This lake is beautiful, particularly if the water is glassy. The high mountains behind the lake make for great reflections. The other great feature of the lake is the abundant wildflowers that surround it, particularly on the north side of the lake. I have never seen a greater concentration of tiger lilies as I saw on the north side of Olaine Lake.
Soon you reach the fork where the Shadow Lake Trail splits off to the left from the PCT. After a short trip across the canyon floor you reach a bridge over the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. After crossing the bridge you begin the long sun exposed climb to Shadow Lake. The entire mountainside is basalt. The forest service has done a wonderful job of building this trail including multiple steeper sections that have multiple steps laid in them. My only complaint is that some of the steps are so short that by size twelve hiking boots don’t fit on the steps.
As you near the top of the climb the trail nears Shadow Creek. You are greeted with s view of cascading waterfalls heading down from Shadow Lake. Just before you reach the lake the trail and the creek start to level out. Here the lake starts to come into view. As the trail bears off to the right along the shore of Shadow Lake, you are greeted by stunning views of Mount Ritter, the Minarets and Volcanic Ridge. If you are lucky enough to be there when there is little or no wind, the reflections off the lake are spectacular.
It’s about a half mile hike from the east end of the lake to the west end. I highly recommend going all the way to the west end. Just past the west end of the lake the trail ends at a junction with the John Muir trail. From here you can go to the right to reach Ediza Lake, Garnet Lake and points beyond. To the left the trail will take you done to Devil’s Postpile National Monument.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.