Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake Backpacking

Mammoth Lakes, California 93546

Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake Backpacking

Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake (Backpacking) Professional Review and Guide

"With only moderate effort this trail places you among peaks of the spectacular Ritter Range—capped by Mt. Ritter, Banner Peak, and the Minarets—in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Some say that the alpine beauty of all Sierra lakes culminates at Ediza Lake where, amid towering evidence of mountain building and glacial action, the visitor can readily appreciate the colossal forces that shaped these awe-inspiring landforms. For more than a century, climbers have used the shores of Ediza Lake as their base camps for scaling these classic peaks. However, hikers without climbing experience should not attempt them without the guidance of capable climbers."

Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake (Backpacking) Reviews

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We didn't know what to expect, since the ranger station had said there was a lot of snow still and the road/shuttle was only going to be opened on 6/24/10 due to the late winter and construction. We started at Agnew Meadows in hopes for going to Garnett Lake on a Friday around 11am. The shuttle was packed with people and our dogs had to be muzzled while in the shuttle. We were told to follow the shadow trail instead of the river trail due to the easier bridged-river crossings. There was still patchy snow throughout and it was an easy hike to get back to the river/shadow trail junction. We stopped for a break around Olaine Lake, which had great fishing. The 700 ft. ascent to Shadow Lake was gradual with many switchbacks and not too painful. There was a beautiful view of Shadow Lake at the summit. We set up camp there the first night. The next day we continued our trip to Garnett. The trail ended up being snow covered the last mile in and was not very easy to follow, but we found our way. Garnett Lake was supposed to be a great destination, but this time of year, it was iced over. The shores were lined with snow. We decided to turn around and set up camp back on our way to Ediza Lake. The next day we continued our trip to Ediza, which again showed to have the last mile of the trail being snow covered. Ediza Lake was also iced over with parts that were thawing and the shores were snow-lined. Due to the warm days, the snow was melting and very slushy. Caution was needed at some of the snow crossings as the underneath was giving way into large holes. We ended up returning to a great spot at Shadow and spending the rest of our trip there. Our intentions were to do many day trips with base camp at Garnett, but instead we carried our full packs in search of better lakes to camp at. In retrospect, we should have kept our camp at Shadow and done day trips from there. All in all, a fantastic trip full of great views and ever-changing scenery.
My ten year old son and I went as far as Shadow Lake. It was his first time backpacking, so it was a little slow going for him during the last half mile to Shadow Lake. Very steep hill for little legs! But, the views made it all worth while. Lots of day hikers on the trail!
It's roughly 14 miles in and out from Agnew Meadows. I opted to backpack since I wanted to stay there a couple of days to catch the right light for my photos. I camped on the West side of the lake up on a hill. (at the time of my trip you could only camp on the West and South sides, check with officials before taking trip). Use a bear canister but I didn't encounter any. It's a well maintained trail and not too difficult of a hike. When you approach lake, take the left split that goes around the East side of the lake. Plenty of place to camp. As stated in the other reviews, it is breath taking. I spent hours just staring at the beauty. Good day hikes from Ediza or continue on. Ediza is on a loop from Red Meadows to Angew Meadows. I just hiked from Agnew to Ediza and back.
We started from Agnew Meadows and the scenery was beautiful. It was really hot 90+ degrees. Every five or ten minutes or so we would pass another group. The trail is well worn so there's no way you could get lost but this is a horse pack trail also so you literally are stepping over steaming piles of horse poo all the time. In the heat it was pretty raunchy.However the absolute beauty of the area was worth it. This trail is technically moderate but at times can be strenous but just for short bouts. There are numerous streams and waterfalls and lakes along the way including the scenic shadow lake that we did some trout fishing at. Ediza lake was pristine. There were several other grups already camped but we took some time to find a great campsite. On the west by n. west side there is a large rock outcropping; to the right in the trees there is this perfect hidden level campsite with glacial melt running 50 feet or so to the right. No one can see you but you can see the lake and everyone else. Only compliant...the mosquitos rule. We were covered in the best insect repellent money could buy and they were biting through our clothes. The next morning we were itching like crazy. All in all I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Ediza Lake is a stunning location. Surrounded by the Minarets, Mount Ritter and Mount Banner towering almost four thousand feet above, it is a fitting finale to a beautiful hike. Shadow Lake, on the way, is almost as scenic. The trail mostly follows a creek with multiple cascades and waterfalls on the way. In addition to providing great scenery, these provide cool and welcome relief from the summer heat. I did encounter some snow patches near Lake Ediza in mid-July (this year - 2005 - has seen unusually high snowfall), which made it a little difficult to follow the trail. I did this as a day hike, but it makes for a great backpacking trip as well. Lake Ediza is well worth spending some time in. The scenery is fantastic, there are lots of destinations nearby worth a visit and its not too crowded even in mid summer.

Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake (Backpacking) Photos

Trail Information

Mammoth Lakes
Nearby City
1,495 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
3 days
Best summer to early fall (you'll encounter snow in early summer after heavy winters; in July wildflowers are best, but so, too, are mosquitoes)
Inyo National Forest - permit required
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-min Mammoth Mtn., Mt. Ritter
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018