The Best Hidden Hike In California's Eastern Sierras
When you pull into the one-horse town of Big Pine, California you'll start to wonder to yourself "how does this place still exist?"
There's a small "grocery" store, which mostly supplies cold beer and semi-ripe apples, two gas stations (because the next one is 30 miles South), a few abandoned shops and a couple of rundown homes. But it's in this tiny community that you'll find West Crocker Road, which leads west through the Eastern Sierra foothills and up into some of California's most rugged mountains.
West Crocker Road quickly turns into Glacier Lodge Road, which will wind up until it dead-ends at the start of the Big Pine Creek trailhead. This is where the real adventure begins.
North Big Pine Trail is arguably our favorite hike in California. The hike itself is something special with its jaw-dropping views, a few raging water falls and meandering brooks, and seasonal wild flowers.
And while all this is great, the real beauty of this hike is what awaits you over the last crest, nearly five miles up after a 3,000ft elevation gain.
Big Pine Lake is a series of seven connected and cascading lakes full of the bluest glacier runoff you'll ever see. From the vantage points 100 yards above the water the scene is closer to the French Riviera than that of mountain lakes.
Don't be fooled by the color of the water though, the turquoise lakes are as cold as they are beautiful. Filled straight from snow pack and glacier runoff, Big Pine Lakes are ice baths, which honestly are totally refreshing after the long hike up.
Stacey and I have never ventured past the second lake, as we're always too hot and tired to continue but we're sure they're just as spectacular as the first two.
Pro Tip: Bring much more water than you think you'll need. The high elevation and blistering sun on the exposed parts of the hike will drain your supplies faster than you anticipate. The last time we did this hike (in mid-August) we drank close to a gallon of water a piece.