Lillian Lake

Clovis, California 93619

Lillian Lake

Lillian Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Nestled beneath Madera, Gale, and Sing peaks, just southwest of Yosemite National Park, the many lakes and easy mileage on this trip provide ample opportunity for exploring, fishing, and day-hiking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness."

More Lillian Lake Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State (Wilderness Press)
Author varies by trail
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"This loop passes three lakes, not bad for a 12.6- mile hike. However, if you have time, you should also visit Lady, Chittenden, Flat, and Rainbow, which add about 7.2 miles to the trip and 50 percent more elevation change. This country is just too beautiful to rush through, so take a leisurely three days to savor the country. Be sure to visit Rainbow Lake, one of the top Sierran lakes; you can’t camp there, but spacious camping lies at Flat Lake just below it."
Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State (Wilderness Press)
Author varies by trail
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"If you make the basic loop, you encounter three lakes, which isn’t bad for a relatively easy 12-mile hike. However, if you visit Lady Lake, you’ll have a fourth lake with an easy mile of extra effort. Since many folks can hike 13 miles in a day, why backpack at all? The answer is that the country’s just too scenic—and several of its lakes too beautiful—to make a whirlwind trip through it. In addition to visiting Lady, I suggest you also visit Chittenden, Flat, and Rainbow. These four add about 7.2 miles to the trip and 50% more total elevation gain and loss. With a total of 19.3 miles it is a suitable 2-day hike: set up camp at the largest Staniford Lake, make an afternoon visit to Chittenden Lake, then return to camp. Still, I recommend a more leisurely 3 days, spending your first night at Lady Lake then your second at Flat Lake. Situated on a large flat bench, this lake has one of the largest camping areas bordering any Sierran lake, and makes an ideal base camp to reach one of my favorites, Rainbow, situated on a bench above it."

Lillian Lake Trip Reports

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9/3/2018
Started at the Fernandez trail head, went through the Venderurg lake trail direction. It had Beautiful views, we passed few lakes (Vanderburg lake, Lady Lake, Standford lake) before getting to Lillian lake. Definitely worth the hike. overall about 18.0 miles 2 Day hike. One night stay at Lady Lake.
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7/14/2018
We did this one in two days. There are beautiful panoramic views of mountains and meadows. We camped at Lillian the first night. The lake was sublime with peaks rising all along the western side, but the mosquitoes are super nasty. There are some great campsites there. Next time I'd like to do three days because the whole area is so fantastic and I'd love to explore more.
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8/18/2010
If you enjoy swimming in pristine lakes surrounded by granite peaks and lush foliage then I would recommend this hike. I did this trip in five days and I wish I had alloted myself seven. Here are a few suggestions. On day one start out early, eat lunch at Peeler lake and play, then hike to smaller and secluded Arndt lake to camp. On day three hike from Benson lake to Smedburg lake instead of going all the way to Matterhorn canyon. Once you arrive at Smedburg, do a day hike to surprise lake (bring a 7.5 min topo). Camp cowboy style under the stars at Smedburg lake and enjoy the planetary show! Enjoy. This trip is truly spectacular!
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5/20/2007
This was a beautiful backpacking experience. We took 2 days, 1 night for the trip. We went backwards from the description and took lunch at Lillian Lake. The lake was gorgeous with peaks all along the western side. We then continued on through Stanford Lakes and got terribly lost because there was still snow covering the trail. We made our way to Vandeburg Lake and made camp. There are some nice campsites there and the lake is picturesque. Our hike out was very easy as it was mostly flat and/or downhill from there. Again, we got lost due to the snow coverage, but made our way back to the trail eventually.
The hike to Lillian from Fernandez Trailhead the way we did it is mostly forrest with a few peaks at Ritter Range. We found the hike from Lillian Lake to Vandeburg the most scenic of the 13.5 miles.
Also, the drive in from Bass Lake takes approximately 1 hour and should not be taken with a whimpy vehicle. The last 10 miles of road are in pretty pore condition.
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7/24/2006
We didn't do the whole loop but camped at Lady Lake and day-hiked to some of the other lakes. Lady Lake is gorgeous and the views of Banner Peak and Minarets along the trail were very nice. Lots of mosquitoes, but that's to be expected for July.
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5/19/2006
Barney Lake! Amazing. Some of the best scenery I've seen in the Sierra and it's only a short 4.5 mile hike to get there.
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8/25/2004
Fantastic trail if you are in the area. I'm not sure if it is worth the 6.5 hour drive from the Bay Area, but if you are going this direction, I strongly reccommend the trail. We camped at Vandeberg lake the first night, which had some first rate campsites. The next day we did Lady lake, Chittenden Lake (unless you are camping here, leave your pack at Staniford lakes, and just take food and water), Staniford lakes, and then camped at Lillian. The last day we went straight back to the car, knowing we had a long drive ahead of us.

If you get an early start, I reccommend camping at Chittenden the first night. It is the highest lake at 9200 ft, and definetely the most beautiful, and surprisingly warm so you can actually swim in it.
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9/28/2002
My first backpacking trip was done on this trail. Because it was late in the season, finding potable water was difficult. It was definitely a beautiful hike (yet difficult at times) and easy enough for a beginner like myself (with proper supervision, of course).
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Lillian Lake Photos

Trail Information

Clovis
Nearby City
13.5
Distance
1,500 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
3 days
Duration
Best early July to early October
Season
7,500 feet
Trailhead Elevation
9,000 feet
Top Elevation
Sierra National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Timber Knob
Local Maps

Trail Log