Big Pine Lakes Trail
Big Pine Travel Blog› entry 3 of 3 › view all entries
After a good night's sleep and a continental breakfast on the go, I was ready to head out on the trails again. This time I picked the Big Pine Lakes Trail. The guidebook has it as a loop trail, but I didn't have time to do the whole 13.1 miles, so I did an abridged 10-mile version of it. It's also rated as strenuous and has a 3000 ft elevation gain.
The trailhead is at the Big Pine Creek campground. Again, the trail book doesn't get very specific on directions. From Big Pine, drive west on Crocker Ave., go up the hill to the end of the road. There is plenty of parking and restroom facilities and even drinkable water so you can fill up your water bottles.
This hike starts off at 7,800 feet and steadily climbs for the next 5 miles. The great thing about this hike is that there are plenty of landmarks on the way so you can use to gauge your travels.
For the next 30 minutes, I made a very steep ascent to the top of the falls. On the way I was sprayed by the mist of the powerful falls, a great treat to cool me off from the arduous walk.
The next landmark is a small rock cabin that is empty. This is also a campsite where many backpackers stop to set up their tents. For the next hour the trail levels off I was treated with views of the mounds of rocks and mountain peaks. It's amazing to see. Despite being summer, there is still a substantial amount of snow on the tops.
The creek becomes very narrow and I had to cross it a couple of times. Since I was taking a shorter hike, at the next trailhead, I made a left turn to the sign marked Lakes 1-7. Like I said, the person who named the landmarks on this trail wasn't every creative.
After another 10-minute walk I got to Second Lake. This one was just as green as the first but much bigger. The sky was so clear and blue, that the contrast with the lake was amazing, the only thing separating the colors were the gray mountains.
What a perfect spot. Since there was no defined trail, there were no other people around. And, it was far from the trail so I couldn't hear any other hikers. All I heard was the water rippling and the wind blowing. Talk about a Zen experience. All natural sounds, the cold water, the amazing peaks and the isolation was unreal. I absolutely loved it. I sat there for quite a while enjoying my surroundings.
The trail does continue from here to Third and Fourth Lake then makes a bend around to Black Lake, names so because, you guessed it, it looks black. Then the trail meets with the original trail back down to the car. I turned around at Second Lake, back to the car. I stopped of at First Lake again, found another flat rock, took way too many pictures and lounged around for a bit. Again, the site was gorgeous. I didn't get all the way down to the lakes bank but I found comfortable place to sit. The wind died down and I sat comfortably for the next half hour.
On the way back down I was able to enjoy the sites from a different perspective. This hike was easier than the one before because the footing was much better and I didn't have to worry about falling. Fortunately, both of the hikes were very well maintained. The forks at the trails were very well marked and finding my way was pretty easy. The forest service did a great job at defining and marking the trails. It was refreshing to see that all the hikers and backpackers had tremendous respect for the environment. There was no trash anywhere, keeping the area as pristine as it should be.