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Little Lakes Valley - 1 member in 5 triplogs has rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Oct 04 2019
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 349
 Photos 6,170
 Triplogs 463

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat TH, CA 
Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat TH, CA
 
Hiking avatar Oct 04 2019
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking7.40 Miles 2,169 AEG
Hiking7.40 Miles   8 Hrs   50 Mns   0.84 mph
2,169 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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This was my third day hike on a 13 day car camping trip traveling south on HW395 in the Eastern Sierras of California. The hike starts out on the Little Lakes Valley Trail from the Mosquito Flats Trailhead at the end of Rock Creek Road. There are several campgrounds along Rock Creek Road, I chose the upper Pine Grove Campground.

I arrived at the TH at 7:30am motivated to get an early start before the parking lot filled up. While getting out my gear I got in a conversation with a young man about our plans for the day. There appeared to be nobody else in the parking lot but our loud enthusiastic voices evidently woke up two young women backpackers sleeping in their small SUV crossover. They spilled out of their car along with their packs. I apologized for waking them up, but hey, it was time for them to get on the trail anyway. :)

The trail to Mono Pass forks off the Little Lakes Valley Trail to the right about a half mile from the TH and is marked with a sign. The trail to Mono Pass started out with a fairly gentle uphill grade but with the starting elevation at 10K and Mono Pass at 12k, I was slowed down by the lack of oxygen. There were great views of the Little Lakes Valley and Ruby Lake as the trail climbed up to the pass. After the pass, the trail goes to the small Summit Lake nestled in a shallow valley. I made Summit Lake my turn around point. I was exhausted from the high altitude so took shelter from the howling wind behind a large boulder, had a snack, and took a short nap. After waking from the nap I noticed 3 people hiking near the top of the low ridge to the west. Later I encountered these people on the trail and found out that taking a route from Mono Pass along the top of that ridge provided amazing views of the Trail Lakes and many Sierra peaks to the west. Based on that information, I would recommend taking that route from the pass instead of the trail leading directly to Summit Lake. For a relatively short hike, this one left me exhausted because of my problem with handling altitudes above 10K. However it didn't seem to be bothering the 10 people, some as old as me, that passed me on the trail. This was definitely a worth while hike because of the great views climbing out of the valley and would be even greater taking the route I recommended above (but didn't take). Little Lakes Valley is a better alternative for the first time in this area but I had done that trail exactly 5 years ago on Oct 4, 2014. [ photoset ]
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Oct 08 2015
slegal
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 Guides 74
 Routes 102
 Photos 2,962
 Triplogs 56

57 male
 Joined Jan 27 2007
 Thousand Oaks, C
Little Lakes ValleySierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Oct 08 2015
slegal
Hiking9.10 Miles 1,000 AEG
Hiking9.10 Miles
1,000 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
On the drive into Mammoth Lakes yesterday, I was very disappointed to see that autumn hasn’t quite arrived yet. Sure there was fresh snow above 10,000 feet, but everywhere I looked, most of the aspen were still green. So I figured that I needed to hike somewhere high in hopes that I would see autumn colors. I chose Little Lakes Valley. The entire hike is above 10,000 feet.

The only aspens I saw on the hike were less than a quarter mile in on the hike. There were a few willows, but not many. What there was a lot of was snow. It was quite pretty photographing the various lakes with snow covered mountains in the background.

Early on I stopped at Marsh Lake and shot a time lapse of the clouds racing across the ski. If interested, you can see the time lapse at this link: https://youtube.com ... 5EYk

I would say that the best part of the hike was climbing Morgan Pass and seeing a lot of snow on Mt. Tom in the distance. I had lunch while on the pass and enjoyed the view.

Upper Gem Lake was also pretty spectacular with lots of fish. There was lots of snow to hike through just to get to the Gem Lakes. I like snow hiking, but didn’t expect to hike in this much snow today. All in all, it was a great hike to start off my short trip to Mammoth.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
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Oct 07 2015
OdinWiski
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 Photos 2,181
 Triplogs 86

48 male
 Joined Jan 31 2015
 Chandler, AZ
Little Lakes ValleySierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Oct 07 2015
OdinWiski
Backpack
Backpack2 Days   4 Hrs      
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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The Little Lakes Valley by Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierras is a beautiful area with gem-like alpine lakes and snow-capped peaks.

We got to the Mosquito Flats TH around 11:00 Wednesday morning and thankfully the parking lot was only 3/4 full because it wasn't on a weekend. We took the Mono Pass turn off shortly after starting on the Little Lakes Valley trail that leads to the Morgan Pass. On the gradual climb up the Mono Pass, it offered a great view of the valley below with Mack, Marsh, Heart and Box lakes.

We turned off to the Ruby Lake, which is sort of tucked away and not frequented by as many hikers. Beautiful lake! We spent a couple of hours there fishing and relaxing and only a couple of people came up during that time.

Time to get back on the Little Lakes Valley trail down below. Instead of taking the Mono Pass all the way back to almost the beginning of the Little Lakes Valley trail, we went cross country and bushwhacked down toward Heart Lake. We ended up having to traverse a bit when we got to a big dropoff that was not wise to do down without ropes and with big packs. Then we found another spot that had a steep rocky yet doable descent, which took us straight down to Little Lakes Valley trail right by Heart Lake.

After passing Box Lake and Long Lake, we turned off to Chickenfoot Lake, which we had planned on setting up camp at. We had Chickenfoot to ourselves for the next two nights. Both nights were uneventful with no bear incidents.

The next day we went up to Morgan Pass and Gem Lakes, which were beautiful! Spent 2-3 hours fishing and exploring around Gem Lakes. We went up the huge talus field by Gem Lakes and got to the unnamed little lake above the saddle. Wiski quicked quite a few of her toe nails climbing and hopping the boulders. So we decided to abandon the plan to check out Treasure Lakes and head back to camp. Treasure Lakes are the only ones in that area that have Goldens. She had gotten "cold tail" the previous night, but surprisingly only took half a day for it to go away. Evening sunset was gorgeous on Chickenfoot.

Friday morning we took our time breaking camp and started hiking back out. Long Lake was beautiful in the morning with reflections of the peaks (it was getting dark when we hiked past it the first day). Since it was Friday, there were quite a lot of day hikers and some backpackers on the trail. Too bad they didn't make the famous Mudpie at the Rock Creek Lodge Resort, but we did get to have their famous chili and one of the homemade pies, along with a couple of Mammoth Epic IPA's :)
Fauna
Fauna
Pika (American)
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
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Oct 04 2014
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 349
 Photos 6,170
 Triplogs 463

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Little Lakes ValleySierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Oct 04 2014
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking9.20 Miles 1,365 AEG
Hiking9.20 Miles   6 Hrs   38 Mns   1.39 mph
1,365 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This is a very popular hiking destination and I was there on the weekend which added to the crowd. I drove up to the TH at the end of Rock Creek Road Friday afternoon to check it out and the large parking lot was nearly full. I would discover why this was such a popular hiking destination the next day.

The campground at Rock Creek Lake had some empty sites but was a little too populated for me. I drove further down the road to Lower Pine Grove CG which only had 2 sites occupied and decided to stay there for the next 2 nights. As a general rule I prefer dispersed camping to crowded camp grounds but there are few dispersed camping areas on the west side of HW395. The National Forest Visitor's Center at Mono Lake was very helpful providing a list of camp grounds, a small map showing dispersed camping areas and pointed out a few free CGs in the area. The dispersed camping areas were mainly on BLM land on the east side of HW 395. I stayed for 2 nights at the free Hartley Spring CG about a mile west of HW 395 a few miles south of the June Lake Loop. It was a large CG in a Ponderosa Pine forest with clean vault toilets and only 3 sites were occupied. All the CGs where I stayed on this 2 week trip through the Eastern Sierra were well maintained, were exceptionally clean and had large bear proof food lockers. A real plus at the Lower Pine Grove CG was a heated restroom with flush toilets.

After setting up camp at the Lower Pine Grove CG on Friday afternoon I went for a stroll to check out the Rock Creek Lodge located behind the CG. It has 20 cabins of various sizes and prices, a restaurant only open for breakfast, and a small store. They remain open in the winter for cross-country skiers but you must either ski in or pay to have them come get you on a snow mobile. There was a trail from the CG which followed Rock Creek up to Rock Creek Lake. I hiked about a mile up this trail through a meadow and along the creek to a pond. It was a scenic jaunt and I included a couple pics in the photoset.

Saturday morning I got to the TH at 8:30 am and the parking lot was about one third full. Many cars were probably left there by backpackers on multi-day trips. The trail leads through the valley for 4.3 miles with a gentle increase in elevation and passing about 7 lakes along the way. It was a beautiful day with a clear sky and very little breeze making for great reflection pictures in the lakes. The lakes are full of Eastern Brook Trout and they could be seen swimming about in the clear water. A small shallow stream between two of the lakes was packed with these trout. A fellow hiker and I herded (by accident)a bunch of these trout into a small pool (he was walking the bank upstream and I was walking down stream). It made for a great photo op.

There were many people on the trail and having been solo for a week I enjoyed the conversations. I met a backpacker on top of a granite knob which I had climbed to get a photo of the valley. He had slept there that night taking advantage of the heat absorbed by the granite during the day. This would be one of about 6 to 8 encounters I would have on this trip with men of about my age and circumstance (retired) who had been hiking and backpacking in the eastern Sierras throughout their lives and now spend weeks at a time in the area. This fellow was very helpful recommending a number of trails along my travel route south on HW395. He couldn't remember all the names of the trail heads so I whipped out my gps and started naming off trail heads with driving routes I had downloaded for this trip (thanks to Grasshopper). This jogged his memory and I quickly marked his recommended routes on the gps by changing the color to yellow. I ended up going to 3 of his recommended trails and all were spectacular. But then I'm not sure if there are any trails in the eastern Sierras that aren't spectacular.

I hiked for about 2 miles with a foursome of young (20s) backpackers, three guys and an attractive gal. One guy, Josh, was a comedian - every time they paused to discuss which lake we had just encountered he would call out some bizarre name in an authoritative voice that had me convinced until I peeked at the map on my GPS. They asked me to take a group pic of them with the girl's I-phone. As I pointed the camera in their direction to take the picture some scarey grizzly looking old dude totally photo bombed the picture screen. The girl quickly informed me that the I-phone was in selfie mode and changed it so I could take a picture of them.

After reaching the last of the lakes (Gem Lakes) I took the trail up to Morgan Pass gaining about 400 ft elev. The trail is an old mining road which goes over the pass and down to some old mines. I paused at the pass to have lunch and enjoy the view, then started the return to the trail head. A short hike down the other side of the pass would have taken me to more lakes but I didn't relish the hike back up.
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Sep 10 2013
PatrickL
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 Guides 7
 Routes 61
 Photos 1,394
 Triplogs 396

28 male
 Joined Jan 10 2010
 Buckeye, AZ
Little Lakes ValleySierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Sep 10 2013
PatrickL
Hiking6.00 Miles 1,000 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   2 Hrs   6 Mns   3.40 mph
1,000 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Overslept and missed my original plans, so I found this on a map and figured it would be interesting. The storm clouds were already present when I started so I walked until the thunder told me to leave. I spent some time at Long Lake which is insanely beautiful with all of the jagged peaks above it. Morgan Pass wasn't much further from where I turned around.
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average hiking speed 1.11 mph

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.

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