Hiking around Big Pine Lakes

Hi friends! No Sunday Bests this week as I was camping this weekend, although I did keep in mind Why my adventure body is the new beach body.

I’ve wanted to go to Big Pines Lakes since I saw the gorgeous photos so I jumped on the chance last week to camp with Girls Who Hike L.A.


From Orange County, we took the 395. We made stops along the way to keep motivated since the trip to Big Pines is 4.5 hours.

We stopped at Indian Wells Brewing Company to share a flight of beers at 9:30. They have beers that are mellow but packed with alcohol, like their barrel-aged ale.

We drove around Alabama Hills looking for arched rocks but instead found signs identifying Alabama Hills as the location for old westerns.


Next, we made a quick stop at Manzanar, a former Japanese internment camp. The exhibit is very informative with records, files, and even a replica of the barracks. It was too hot to take the 1 mile walk to the monument though.

The main event was the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest just past our campground… or so we thought. 24 miles later and we found our way to the visitors’ center with three shorter trails. For the bristlecone pine trees, go to Discovery Trail. We also did the… trail.




We camped at Upper Sage Flat and the creek’s rushing waters drowned out my alarm so we woke up late. We grabbed coffee at Looney Bean at Bishop and walk around town before heading to Mammoth.

We took the $7 (round trip) tram to Devil’s Postpile (stop 6) and did the short hike to see the national monument.


From there we hiked to Rainbow Falls, with the most beautiful views along the way: clear water and the Ansel Adams Wilderness, partly burned but gorgeous nonetheless.




We kept going and ended up at Lower Falls, another sight to see. Here, some people were swimming below.




Wake up early because parking is limited. Hike the North Fork to Big Pine Lakes. The trail is easier – I could do it in sneakers but know there are a few small creek crossings – but the altitude takes a toll.


After almost 5 miles, you all of sudden get surprised by Lake 1.


Literally 1 minute on the trail later is Lake 2, which is more gorgeous.


It took me about 2.5 hours to hike up and 2 hours to hike down. I spent 2 hours up at the lakes, mostly waiting on my fellow travelers. I then spent 2 hours after waiting for them.

I saw the oldest trees in the world, a waterfall with a semi-permanent rainbow (don’t go too early or you won’t see the rainbow), and crystal clear lakes… yet the best thing was seeing llamas on the trail.


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