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Meysan Lake

August 3, 2018

Trail: Meysan Lake Trail


GPS statistics:

Mileage one way: 6.43;      Ascent: 3921ft;     Descent: 305ft

Max elevation: 11,808ft;    Min Elevation: 7825ft

Average Grade: 10.7%


Directions to trailhead: From Lone Pine, CA, turn west toward the Sierra Mountains on Whitney Portal Rd. Follow the road until you see the Meysan Lake parking sign on the right. Follow the emergency access road toward the bathrooms just a few feet up the road and start following the signs out of the campground to the trail head.


Parking: Parking is on the left side of the road as directed by the sign. This is for day and overnight hikers.


Permits: A backpackers permit is required for overnight stays from the Lone Pine Visitors Center. Day hikers do not require a permit. 


Map: Whitney Portal Map


Our Adventure:

We vacillated on day hike or backpack for a few days before deciding on an overnight stay. The first half of the hike was generally a good grade but becomes more steep as the trail progresses. We enjoyed being surprised as the trail took us from granite and rocky scenery, to more forested and luscious green areas as the trail reaches the different lakes. We stayed at Meysan Lake as it would be less buggy - worth it! Minimal bugs, lots of exploring, amazing view, marmot visitor in the morning. 



 The sign for parking is on the right side of the road. Very easily seen and plenty of parking on the left side of the road for both day and overnight folks.

The trail is up-road just a few feet and detours down to bathrooms where this little sign marks the direction to the trail. 

 Follow the sign through the campground. After crossing the wooden bridge over Lone Pine Creek you'll see this sign which points you to a fork in the road, and another bathroom opportunity. You take a left and follow the paved road up toward the vacation homes.

Now, here is where we went wrong. I had looked up different direction sources online and both walked us through vacation homes, following the pavement up and around the homes. BUT, when we hiked out we noted THIS sign which is two houses down (marked Lot 12 then Lot 11)  from the left turn after the bridge crossing Lone Pine Creek - just a few hundred feet.  You turn to the right for the actual trail head to avoid a half mile pavement walking. I am guessing this 'pavement detour' we walked is why the mileage was higher than other reports. After we returned home I found another set of directions which uses this trail head, so guessing it is legit!

We did not hike up this little trail to investigate as were were tired and racing the rain and thunder clouds on our hike out. But I assume it will hook up to this final sign below which marks the trail leaving the homes behind and the canyon ahead.


We followed the pavement to reach this sign below. My GPS said .66 miles to reach this from the car. If you follow the paved road though all the vacation homes  like we did when you come to the 'One Way' sign, you can go either way and it will still lead you to this sign.


As you leave the remnants of civilization behind the trail takes you up multiple series of switchbacks along  the side of the canyon. The trail is exposed, so on hot summer days so get an early morning start!


View looking up the canyon toward Lone Pine Peak.

A view down into Owen's Valley


At 2.3 miles we have hiked up 1213 ft. To our delight we hear water cascading down the hillside to the left. I take a little excursion off trail to investigate while Neil takes a higher path to do the same. It took a bit of effort to find a place to take this photo but it was worth the scramble!


As I climb back up I see Neil above me hoping he will not try the water slide.


After climbing up to Neil I turn around to this view


We head back on the trail and at 3.11 miles there is a waterfall on the left. It is far away but stays in our view for much of the upper trail before we start seeing the lakes.

 The trail continues up switchbacks altering the view between one side of the canyon....


 ......and the other.


About 4 miles in we reach a shaded pine grove with a steep, short switchbacks up. Lots of little flowers along the path to distract us from the effort of the up-climb.






A couple of hikers taking a little rest waiting to see if the weather holds for a summit to Lone Pine Peak. The sign behind them points straight ahead for Grass Lakes and off to the right for Camp Lake and Meyson Lakes. The GPS says  5.21 miles and we've ascended 3106ft. 

 Just beyond the sign is a little pool of water, but it's not actually Grass Lake. You have to hike just a little farther in to see the body of the lake. Later arial photos show Grass Lake.


We take the right turn and head up a little ways then down into a little bowl of flat area before a bit more up.... 


Camp Lake meadow at 5.7 miles and showing 3497ft elevation gain


Head up the gully with the creek full of flowers and grass.


The trail heads toward the left slope onto rocks and we follow the cairns. We're at 3699ft


Over the lip and we start to descend down into the bowl of Gorgeous Meysan Lake!


There are many camp sites with a view

 We also found some protected camp areas on our exploration to the other side of the lake


A spring flowed behind where we camped providing beautiful contrast of granite and luscious greenery and flowers 


Just a short walk away a stream run outs from the lake creating some pretty little water falls



We explore around the lake finding lots of flowers clustered together....



Shortly we reach the other side of the lake where a strip of green grass grows along the edge of the water spotted here and there with wild flowers. Looking into the water from the shore a light brown sand bar stretches away for a few feet and then the earth drops away to the deep blue depths of the lake bottom.


 This huge rock sits alone like the throne of a forgotten kingdom....

 A line of purple flowers decorates the shore where the snowmelt enters the lake.

 This pretty little flower is only 2 inches tall. Exploring to the opposite side of the lake was well worth the effort after the hard climb up! It was Neils favorite part of the trip.

 The next day we have a morning visitor.....


We hike out following a set of cairns that brings us above Camp Lake for this beautiful view instead of following the draw he hiked up yesterday.


We traverse down this granite face to Camp Lake below and do a little exploring


A view of Grass Lake taken from the boulders around Camp Lake.

 As we finish our loop around Camp Lake I take this shot of green reflection.  

We hook back up to the main trail and head down to the trailhead and home. The clouds build and darken and soon rain droplets are falling as the rumble of thunder echos following the sheer granite canyon walls. We make it to the car just in time for the down pour. 


                                                                  Thanks for visiting!


Tags:South fork Big Pine creek to Brainerd lake

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