Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake Backpacking

Mammoth Lakes, California

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6 Reviews
4 out of 5
Your destination, Thousand Island Lake, is one of the Sierra’s great beauty spots, a huge—by Sierra standards—sheet of sky-blue water dotted picturesquely with granite islands and situated at the foot of the wild, jagged Ritter Range. The area around Thousand Island Lake is chock-full of more lakes and ponds than you can count, including Thousand Island’s big neighbor, Garnet Lake. There’s spectacular dayhiking, especially for those willing to tackle some easy cross-country travel. Finally, there are three major trail routes you can take to Thousand Island Lake, all of them marvelously scenic, so that getting to and from the lake are joys in themselves. I combine two of the routes into a loop trip here and mention the third under Variations. I describe a favorite dayhike, looping through Thousand Island and Garnet lakes via the saddle between their southwest ends and the John Muir Trail, in the Take this trip! section of trip 46, “Tuolumne Meadow to Agnew Meadows.” Another I highly recommend is ascending to 10,203-foot Island Pass, a little to the north on the John Muir Trail, and enjoying a cross-country ramble around the many little ridges, meadows, and ponds on the interesting plateau east of the pass.

Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake (Backpacking) Professional Review and Guide

"Your destination, Thousand Island Lake, is one of the Sierra’s great beauty spots, a huge—by Sierra standards—sheet of sky-blue water dotted picturesquely with granite islands and situated at the foot of the wild, jagged Ritter Range. The area around Thousand Island Lake is chock-full of more lakes and ponds than you can count, including Thousand Island’s big neighbor, Garnet Lake. There’s spectacular dayhiking, especially for those willing to tackle some easy cross-country travel. Finally, there are three major trail routes you can take to Thousand Island Lake, all of them marvelously scenic, so that getting to and from the lake are joys in themselves. I combine two of the routes into a loop trip here and mention the third under Variations. I describe a favorite dayhike, looping through Thousand Island and Garnet lakes via the saddle between their southwest ends and the John Muir Trail, in the Take this trip! section of trip 46, “Tuolumne Meadow to Agnew Meadows.” Another I highly recommend is ascending to 10,203-foot Island Pass, a little to the north on the John Muir Trail, and enjoying a cross-country ramble around the many little ridges, meadows, and ponds on the interesting plateau east of the pass."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Mammoth Lakes
Distance: 17.6
Elevation Gain: 1,707 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 3 days
Season: Best late summer through early fall
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest - permit required
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-min Mammoth Mtn., Mt. Ritter
Driving Directions: Directions to Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake (Backpacking)

Recent Trail Reviews

9/3/2010
1

A gorgeous, forest shaded nine mile hike which takes you through a beautiful river valley. Mostly moderate altitude gain until the last few miles. All of a sudden the pass opens up to the spectacular Thousand Island Lake and Banner Peak. Walk an extra mile to the head of the lake where there are fewer people and waterfalls.


7/4/2008
1

Great views, but tons of bugs, especially at pretty much every water source. I'd do this again, but wait until later in the year when the mosquitoes subside.


8/12/2007
1

A very enjoyable moderate loop hike. The hike up to Thousand Island Lake was pleasant and not too strenuous (as long as your pack isn't too heavy!) But plan on an extra 1/2 mile to 1 mile of hiking once you reach the lake to find a decent camp site. the further you go to the head of the lake the better the sites and less crowded. We swam in the lake which was very refreshing and not too cold. The hike out I thought was exceptional. The views during the hike out are terrific. Wear sun protection because you're exposed much of the time. I brought my 19 year old nephew along on his first backpacking trip. it was a bit tough for him. overall it's a long hike going in and coming out. so while it may be listed as moderate (which i agree with) it can kick your butt given the elevation, the distance, elevation change and weight of the pack; but worth it.


7/21/2005
0

The trail starts off going by Agnew Meadows then drops into San Joaquin River and runs along the river. It is relatively level and easy to hike. The trail then climbs sharpy up Shadow Creek to Shadow Lake with tremendous views at higher elevations. Shadow Lake is beautiful, however their is no camping around the lake. The trail continues past Shadow Lake following Shadow Creek. This time od year with all the snow it still had a tremendous flow to it with many falls. Ediza Lake is small and beautiful. With the wet year the ground was still wet with melted snow and a lot of snow packs still around. We backtracked to an area and camped on Shadow Creek. It took about 4 hours to pack in. With the wet winter there were a lot of mosquitoes. We got as far as Garnett Lake the next day and did not make it to Thousand Island Lake. The return hikre only took 2 hours. I would recommend this hike for anyone looking for a 2 or 3 day outing. The scenery is tremendous. I look forward to hiking in this area again.


6/6/2004
0

OVERREGULATED! After numerous phone calls to reserve our overnight trip (20 min. on hold with forrest svc.) and another phone call to figure out the "shuttle" system, we arrived to the Inyo ranger station the morning before our trip to find out that not only was the shuttle not in operation (as we were told on the phone) but that the road was CLOSED and we would need to hike 3 miles on pavement to get to the trailhead at Agnew Meadows. There was certainly plenty of solitude (we saw 3 people total) on the river trail even on a weekend. I agree with last reviewer, a bit of elevation gain towards the lake and we too couldn't find the trail to Garnet lake at all.



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May 2018