“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~ John Muir
We share this esteemed naturalist’s views, the allure of these mountains is that strong. It is a spiritual experience, for sure, and the recommended hike passed on to our friend Nina by a forest ranger was to most definitely do Little Lakes Trail. We were blessed with a rainstorm a few days earlier so we knew without a doubt there would be snow topping the rugged peaks of the John Muir Wilderness where this hike was to take us.
Looking at the topographical map at Mosquito Flats, our jumping-off point, we saw evidence of literally hundreds of lakes dotting the mountainsides. Our hike was to take us by a mere six of these sparkling jewels, ending at Gem Lake, where we lunched lake-side, surrounded by snow-covered granite peaks. Could life possibly get any better than this?!
Considering the hikes we had done at June Lake and many others that were available in this area, Little Lakes was relatively easy, a 7-miler beginning at 10,300 feet and topping out at just shy of 11,000 feet…piece of cake! For sightseeing, these are my kind of hikes, not too taxing to leave me huffing and puffing, just a nice, easy hiking pace while enjoying the grandeur all around me, and there was plenty of that! Sparkling lakes, alpine meadows and many thirteeners surrounded us, Mt. Dade, Mt. Abbot, Mt. Mills, and Bear Creek Spire, to name a few.
We marveled at the condition of this trail as we wound along meadows and shimmering lakes. Perhaps it is so well-maintained because it is a popular trek. Going early and in the off-season is recommended, as we did, and were rewarded with very few hikers on our way out. This trail is also popular with the fishing and climbing enthusiasts.
From our campground at Horton Creek, it is an approximate 45-minute drive on Hwy 395 to get to this lovely trailhead, where the mountains are calling anyone who wants to experience Mother Nature at her finest.
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