June 2004
John Muir Wilderness
Joshua Tree NP
Planning & Links


Initial Itinerary Planning for the trip:

We will drive through Yosemite National Park on Saturday, June 26, to Nevada, joining Highway 395 South. Head down to Big Pine and take the mountain road to Glacier Lodge. We will spend the first night at the Big Pine Creek campground. On Sunday, pack up and hike up past first and second falls toward the lake area. The hike to the first camp site is about 4.7 miles with an elevation gain of about 2300 feet.
We will make our first camp between First and Second Lake and then explore the surrounding area for photo shots.
The next day we will hike to our second camp site at Fifth Lake. We can then hike up to the Palisade Glacier, an eight mile round trip with boulder hopping to the base of the glacier. We can stay at this camp for two nights, and then hike up to the Thunder and Lighting Lake Area. Our third campsite is situated near Black Lake. As the description below states, many of the lakes have an abundant of trouts, so the lucky fisherman can catch our evening meal. We will hike out back to the trail head located at the old Glacier Lodge. Some of the campers will head back home at the end of this trek. The rest of us will head down to Death Valley for our exploration trip. From Death Valley, we will travel up the Western side of the Sierra, visiting area such as the Needles.



TRAIL DESCRIPTION--NORTH FORK BIG PINE

The North Fork trail offers access to Big Pine Lakes and the Palisade Glacier, the largest glacier in the Sierra. The Palisade Crest rising above 14,000 ft. contains some of the finest alpine climbing in California.
The Big Pine Lakes trail zigzags through a slope of sage, manzanita, and jeffrey pine before it reaches second falls and follows along the creek to its headwaters. The flowers in early summer are abundant along the path leading into the canyon. Hikers will pass a stone cabin built by movie actor Lon Chaney while walking through a forest of lodgepole pine. A junction in the trail will go up to Black Lake, where splendid views of the Palisade Glacier and Crest can be seen. The trail from Black Lake will rejoin the main trail near 4th Lake. Following the main trail will take hikers along past Lakes 1,2, & 3. Third Lake is fed directly from the Palisade Glacier, which causes its milky turquoise color from the glacial powder carried down from the melting glacier. The imposing dark mountain above 3rd Lake is Temple Crag, Fishermen can find rainbow trout in most of the lakes in the canyon with the higher lakes containing golden trout.
The trail to the Palisade Glacier is about 1/2 mile above 3rd lake. Turn left and follow switchbacks up among grassy benches and boulders to Sam Mack Meadow. Whitebark Pine survives the climate up high with several types of alpine flowers growing on the seemingly soil-less area. About the last 1/2 mile to the glacier requires much boulder hopping and the trail is very obscure.
Hikers can meander safely along the lower part of the glacier where the slope is gentle, but should avoid the upper reaches unless well experienced on ice and snow.

Links to informational Sites:

A great information site on the Big Pine area
Information site on activites along Highway 395
Information site on High Sierra trails, campsite, etc
Pictures from Joshua Tree NP we will visit after the John Muir Trek

Links to sites that describe users' experience:

Camper 1 - Photo Album of Big Pine Lakes Area
Camper 2 - Excellent photos and route map with description. Very informative site
Camper 3 - Photos of Big Pine Lakes Area
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last updated 04/30/2004