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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake, CA

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Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Sierra Nevada
4.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,323 feet
Elevation Gain 1,043 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.42
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
136  2015-08-13
Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow
40  2015-07-02
Ansel Adams Wilderness
18  2015-07-02
Ansel Adams Wilderness
59  2013-07-17 slegal
Author slegal
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 101
Photos 2,962
Trips 56 map ( 351 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Thousand Oaks, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, Jun, Aug, Jul → 7 AM
Seasons   Summer
Sun  5:44am - 5:53pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Fantastic lake and moutain views
by slegal

Likely In-Season!
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.

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2013-07-18 slegal
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow
    In August 2015, my wife and I took our first steps on the John Muir Trail. We hiked southbound from Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow, passing over Donohue Pass and Island Pass on this amazing section of the JMT. We spent 4 days on this journey as our first thru-hike together.
    Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Ansel Adams Wilderness
    Two years ago I hiked through one of the most amazing stretches of trail I have ever seen! I was three days into the JMT and cruised through here totally in awe. One of my big regrets was not spending more time in this section known as The Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I said then I would return and here I am accompanied by Claire for three days in pure heaven!

    Day 1 - Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake
    Our journey started on the Reds Meadow Shuttle that costs seven dollars for each of us. We took this shuttle and were dropped off at Agnew Meadow. We got situated and started hiking on the River Trail. The PCT comes through here and follows the High Trail. We meet again near Thousand Island Lake.

    The first few miles of trail are easy going with nice views and good trail as you descend into a valley and then start the climb roughly 3.5 miles in. The next few miles make a steady climb as you parallel the river. There were lots of cool campsites and the water was gushing and the views were just stunning! We continued up and passed a couple of trail junctions and then turned to the west where we caught our first glimpse of Banner Peak. It dominants the landscape with it's beauty and grandeur! Next up was Thousand Island Lake and an intersection with the John Muir Trail. We continued west and found a sweet camp nestled between some boulders and a few trees. It's perfect!

    The rest of the day was spent setting up camp and doing camp chores. We eventually settled in and soaked in the views. This place is truly spectacular! After dinner we went for a walk to the west along the lake. This place is pure magic and it goes on and on. There is pretty much unlimited camping the farther west you went. You cannot go wrong. We returned to camp and settled in as it didn't get dark to after 8:30pm. Some JMT hikers came into the area. It was noisy for a bit buy dead silence as dusk set in. Thru hikers go to bed early!

    A storm moved in overnight and lasted about thirty minutes. There was moderate rain accompanied with flashes followed closely by thunder. It was a little unnerving but was fine.

    Day 2 - Day hike around Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes
    We had a relaxing morning where we ate oatmeal and drank coffee. I watched a marmot and chipmunk battle for territory. They were sparring in our camp and it was very entertaining!

    Later in the morning we got our day packs put together and headed out for a day hike. The going was very easy as we worked our way west along the north shore of Thousand Island Lake. Before long we turned south and stopped at a cascade coming off Banner. I drank a bunch of unfiltered water and it was cold and delicious!

    Our next goal was the pass separating Thousand Island and Garnet Lakes. It required hiking up 400 ft of easy off-trail with some scrambling. Once up top we followed the ridgeline to the northeast for the best views. Thousand Island Lake sits to the north while Garnet Lake lies below us to the south. Words cannot describe the beauty. We sat in awe!

    From there we dropped down to Garnet Lake and settled in for some lunch and relaxation. It was a beautiful and clear day and life was good! After lunch we continued east on a use trail that lead back to the JMT. From there it was roughly two miles north to return to camp. We found several large groups showed up. Luckily it wasn't a big deal as everyone was in bed early. That's the good thing about backpacking...too tired to stay up late.

    Day 3 - Thousand Island Lake to Agnew Meadow via the JMT and Shadow Lake
    We woke on day three and again took our time. All the big groups from last night packed up early and hiked out. We enjoyed our last view and then tore down camp and packed up. We hit the trail around mid-morning. Our plan is to follow the JMT six miles south and exit view Shadow Lake.

    We started off with overcast skies but no threat of rain. The going was very easy as we passed Emerald and Ruby Lakes. There is a nice set of switchbacks leading up from Ruby. Once up top we continued across and dropped down the outlet below Garnet Lake. We took a break in the exact same spot I rested two years ago. We ate some snacks and filtered some water. I used the standard Sawyer Squeeze for this trip and it worked wonderfully.

    After lunch we headed up more switchbacks and continued south. The next few miles flew by as it was all downhill. We passed the Ediza Lake turnoff, lot's of good camping here, and continued on towards Shadow Lake. We official left the JMT above Shadown. We took another break at the lake and then proceeded down Shadow Creek where we reconnected onto the River Trail. From there it was a few easy miles back to Agnew Meadows where we picked up the bus and completed another memorable trip.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Mammoth Lakes take Minaret Road (Highway 203) west to Mammoth Mountain's main lodge area. Park your car there and purchase a ticket to ride the Devils Postpile bus. Get off of the bus at the Agnew Meadows stop, which is the first stop.

    If you are an early bird, you can drive in if you reach the ranger station at the top of Minaret Summit before 7:00 AM. If you do drive in you can park next to the Agnew Meadows trailhead, thus shaving almost a mile round trip off of your hike from where the bus lets you off. Just be aware that the drive down from Minaret Summit is a one lane road and I personally wouldn’t want to meet a bus going the opposite direction on this road.
    page created by slegal on Jul 18 2013 11:46 am
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