Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail 

We started our journey on a Sunday, driving from L.A to Big Pine, a little town located before Mammoth Lakes. We were supposed to hike Yosemite that weekend, but trying to book a permit only a week in advance was literally impossible! After some research, I found the Big Pine Creek Trail perfect for a two-days hike in the Eastern Sierra. You can make it a day hike if you don't feel like camping there but trust me, it is definitely worth it to spend an extra night. If you want to experience Fall in California, this is where to go. Bright shades of gold and yellow make the scenery incredible, creating an amazing carpet of colors among Birch trees, Pines and Cottonwood.  Days are warm and enjoyable while evenings get cooler. Best part of this hike is that North Folk trail leads to many lakes, a total of seven clear blue high altitude lakes and several glaciers.  

Hike and stay overnight in the Wilderness

 So voilà, we grabbed a permit at the Lone Pine rangers station (you will need one only if you stay overnight) as well as a bear canister (this last one is very important as bears are present in the Eastern Sierra) and started the hike on Monday morning around 9am. We spent the night before near by the trailhead entrance and found this "first arrived first served" campground - named Baker Creek - located only fifteen minutes away by car. 

The climb until the First Lakes is quite strenuous but not impossible. I am a beginner backpacker and that was only my second backpack trip! Oui, it was challenging due to the elevation but I would say not too difficult if you take time to stop and go at your own pace. This is why it is also very important to chose with who you are going to spend this adventure (lucky to have my adventurous husband by my side, motivating me and taking beautiful pictures).

After about four miles, we reached a ranger cabin which was, back in the 20's, the property of Hollywood star, Lon Chaney, who built this cabin to escape with his wife from the busy Los Angeles' life. It is now owned by the U.S Forest Service and is a perfect spot to stop as it is located half way from First lake. 

Reaching First Lake was nothing that words or pictures can describe. We decided to take our lunch break there and observe the majestic view. 

Luckily, Second and Third Lakes were very close from each other. We kept going to Fourth lake but this is where it became more and more difficult due to a lot of switchbacks. We did the loop around Fourth Lake and kept going until Fifth, only five minutes away. 

This is where we found the most perfect camping spot above the water (remember you must camp 100 ft away from water source). Fifth Lake is elevated at 10,787 ft (about 3,288 meters) and was definitely the most impressive one, sitting in a large granite bowl, it looked like we arrived in our own little world. We set up the tent and spent the night there, it was spectacular but also very windy!


We decided to go back on Tuesday after breakfast, enjoying the scenery as much as we could. This trail is a loop, we could have kept going but the exercise from the day before was quite enough for me. We did twenty miles roundtrip give or take, it could not have been a better experience. 


Featured Gear

  • Teton Sports LEEF +20 Ultralight Sleeping bag: It is important to think about your comfort when you are out in the wilderness but also not to neglect the weight of your backpack. Teton sleeping bag ended up being great for this trip. The weight was minimal and comfort maximal, it kept me SO warm. For more details you can find it HERE.
  • Teton Oasis 1100 Hydration backpack: This day hike pack was perfect when we wanted to explore around and leave our huge backpack while using a smallest one filled with water and snacks. Despite all of this storage and water capacity, the Oasis 1100 weighs only 2 pounds, making this model extremely light. Teton is definitely a very affordable brand with no absence of quality. Highly recommend their products!

Any infos about permit reservation and trails for the Inyo National Forest can be found HERE.  So voilà, time to prepare your next adventure to the Eastern Sierra!