Inyo National Forest
Rock Creek Canyon offers several day-trips into the John Muir Wildnerness. I chose Ruby Lake and Mono Pass as my first destination in Inyo. The rewards were a pleasant trail up Rock Creek, bordered by granite walls, 13-ers reflected off the lake, and a trudge across snowfields to reach the 12,000' pass.
- Bill Greer
1. LITTLE LAKES VALLEY AND MONO PASS - Trailhead is from Hwy. 395. Turn at Tom's Place and continue up Rock Creek Canyon. Follow this road all the way to the end, Mosquito Flat Parking, about 10 miles. (10,300')
Little Lakes Valley - A 7 mile roundtrip through Little Lakes Valley to Morgan Pass, reaching an elevation of 11,104. This charming valley is surrounded by 13,000' peaks ( Mt. Mills, Dade, Abbot, and Bear Creek Spire) and has the typical U-shaped profile of a glacier carved canyon. The lateral moraines that pushed to the sides of the valley by the force and flow of ice are now topped by small lakes. This area with its long chain of lakes is popular for beginning hikers and for fishing enthusiasts seeking Brown, Brook, and Rainbow trout. Hikers can continue over the pass to Upper and Lower Morgan Lakes, a mile down, and on into Pine Creek Canyon.
The Mono Pass Trail - An 8 mile roundtrip including a sidetrip to Ruby Lake. The pass was crossed in 1864 by William Brewer and party. The track ascends up to Ruby Lake, where sheer granite walls tower over the emerald waters. The trail then climbs steeply over switchbacks up to Mono Pass (12,000'). Views from Mono Pass are excellent of the Mono Recesses and Pioneer Basin. The trail continues down Mono Creek where it joins with the Pacific Crest 'Rail.
2. HILTON LAKES - About a 10-mile roundtrip reaching an elevation of 10,700'. Trailhead parking for the Hilton Lakes is located below the Rock Creek Pack Station, on the road towards Mosquito Flats. (9,600'). The trail takes hikers through a forest of Whitebark and Lodgepole Pines, before it enters the basin of Hilton and Davis Lakes. The upper Hilton Lakes contain Brook and Rainbow trout.
3. TAMARACK LAKES - An 11 mile roundtrip reaching an elevation of 11,600'. Trailhead parking for Tamarack Lakes is located near the east side of Rock Creek Lake (9,600') or at Pine Grove Campground (9,300'). The Tamarack Lakes trail begins at the eastern shore of Rock Creek Lake. The trail is steep initially, but levels out around the intermediate lakes before starting the final climb to Tamarack and Buck Lake. Fishing enthusiasts will find Golden trout in Tamarack Lake, while the lower Dorothy Lake holds Brookies and Lahonton Cutthroat.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Bishop