Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail

John Muir once said, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”  Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail gives life to these words. From the moment your car leaves the 395 at Big Pine, California and heads into Big Pine Canyon, it’s clear another world awaits.  The further into the canyon, the clearer the vision.  The road ends at the parking area for Inyo National Forest; however, a left turn at the park’s sign takes you across a bridge over Big Pine Creek and to Glacier Lodge, a historic set of truly rustic cabins nestled along the river.  The lodge acts as an excellent “base camp” for excursions into the surrounding wilderness, unless you prefer to camp at one of the campgrounds further back on the road. (Side note: Save the camping for on the trail, and enjoy a unique stay at this rural getaway.)

north lake inyo national forest, Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail, XplorMor Inc Copyright, XplorMor, #xplormor, Big Pine, Glacier Lake, Glacier Lodge, Inyo, Inyo National Park, Inyo National Forest, North Fork Trail, national forest, hike, hiking, trail, hiking trail, national park, scenic trail, Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails, Bishop, Big Pine, Lakes trail, Sierras, High Sierras, Sierra Mountain Range, Sierra Hiking Trails, Sierra mountain hiking trail, sierra trail, north lake trail, glacier lake trail

Glacial Lake, Big Pine North Fork Trail by XplorMor

Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail is a hiker’s promised land, offering spectacular views of numerous lakes, 14,000 ft. mountain peaks, and access to the southernmost glacier in the United States and the largest in the Sierra Nevada, Palisade Glacier.  There are flowing rivers and waterfalls, rocky switchbacks, Golden Trout, Jeffrey and Lodgepole pines, Aspens, a gorgeous rock cabin built by Lon Chaney Sr., and glacier-fed lakes.  Glacier melt from the Palisade Glacier directly fills Third Lake which spills into Second and First Lakes, giving them their unique milky turquoise hues.  The trail follows the north fork of the Big Pine Creek, hence its name.

north lake inyo national forest, Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail, XplorMor Inc Copyright, XplorMor, #xplormor, Big Pine, Glacier Lake, Glacier Lodge, Inyo, Inyo National Park, Inyo National Forest, North Fork Trail, national forest, hike, hiking, trail, hiking trail, national park, scenic trail, Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails, Bishop, Big Pine, Lakes trail, Sierras, High Sierras, Sierra Mountain Range, Sierra Hiking Trails, Sierra mountain hiking trail, sierra trail, north lake trail, glacier lake trail

Chaney Stone Abode in Inyo National Forest by XplorMor

The trail may be accessed from several easily identified points, and remains well defined throughout its approximate 19 miles, except one mile in from the Glacier Lodge trailhead where signage is missing (Read more on Finding the Trail).  As the trail winds up Big Pine Canyon glimpses of a possible destination, Palisade Glacier, are seen through the trees and past the overlooks.  The trail to the glacier gains more than 4,000 feet in elevation with intervals of steep narrow rocky switchbacks and sharp drop-offs, yet the destination beckons an enticement of wonder and untouched natural landscape.  Many hikers do not reach Palisade Glacier as it requires extensive hiking and possibly an overnight stay in this rugged wilderness.  Regardless of whether the hiker follows the loop past seven lakes on a day excursion or ventures further overnight to the glacier, the scenery will not disappoint.

north lake inyo national forest, Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail, XplorMor Inc Copyright, XplorMor, #xplormor, Big Pine, Glacier Lake, Glacier Lodge, Inyo, Inyo National Park, Inyo National Forest, North Fork Trail, national forest, hike, hiking, trail, hiking trail, national park, scenic trail, Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails, Bishop, Big Pine, Lakes trail, Sierras, High Sierras, Sierra Mountain Range, Sierra Hiking Trails, Sierra mountain hiking trail, sierra trail, north lake trail, glacier lake trail

First Lake, North Fork Trail by XplorMor

Around 4 miles into the trail Temple Crag comes into view, signaling the proximity of the first three lakes: First, Second and Third Lakes.  Here are many opportunities to observe the effects of glacial activity including moraines, cirques, tarns and glaciated granite.  Less than half a mile before First Lake, a side trail loops to Black Lake, offering further views of glaciers and the Sierra Nevadas, and access to Summit, Fifth, Six and Seventh Lakes, before rejoining the main trail near Fourth Lake.  From Fourth Lake, the Palisade Glacier is another 2.5 miles; it lies approximately 9 miles from the Big Pine Creek North Fork Trailhead at Glacier Lodge.

north lake inyo national forest, Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail, XplorMor Inc Copyright, XplorMor, #xplormor, Big Pine, Glacier Lake, Glacier Lodge, Inyo, Inyo National Park, Inyo National Forest, North Fork Trail, national forest, hike, hiking, trail, hiking trail, national park, scenic trail, Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails, Bishop, Big Pine, Lakes trail, Sierras, High Sierras, Sierra Mountain Range, Sierra Hiking Trails, Sierra mountain hiking trail, sierra trail, north lake trail, glacier lake trail

First Lake Reflection

Wilderness permits are not required for day trips into Inyo National Forest, but are mandatory for overnight stays in the designated areas.  For Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail, these permits may be obtained online at Recreation.gov, or further information is available through the USDA Forest Service. (Note: there is no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi in Big Pine Canyon, so reservations must be made in advance of the trip. For wilderness permit information call 760-873-2483; or for area information call the White Mt. Ranger Station 760-873-2500.)  Keep in mind wilderness permits for certain areas are under quota, meaning a limited number of people per day may use the trail therefore visitors are urged to schedule trips well in advance.

Want to get more firsthand insights and see stunning photography from this incredible location? Check out XplorMor Founder Julia’s Xplorer Journals: Glacier Lodge: A Gem of the SierrasBig Pine Creek North Fork Trail: A Hiker’s Promised Land.

Inspired? Contact us for a future expedition. No project is too big or too small… we enjoy them all! It’s about getting out there and appreciating our world and feeling the impact on our spirit from exposure to the magnificent world around us.  

North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc
North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc
North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc
North Fork Trail XplorMor Inc

Continue exploring the incredible wilderness and natural wonders of Inyo National Forest: Lundy Canyon TrailMono LakePanum CraterRainbow Falls and Devil’s Postpile and on the outskirts Bodie Ghost Town and Glacier Lodge.

Expedition Dates: October 2013, October 2016

8 Comments

  1. Kymee Martinak February 18, 2014 at 7:46 AM #

    Thank you for coming by to visit, I did not know about this problem. I will have to get help on this issue.
    Talked to my husband about the places that you have been talking about. He and my son had been there and said you are right they are beautiful.
    I will ask my husband what his favorites are.
    Have you been to the many hot springs up there, those are fun also.

    Very sad though that we have not had a winter there praying that it does comes late we really need that snow.

    • XplorMor March 4, 2014 at 12:34 PM #

      No, didn’t make it to hot springs… In Big Pine or Lundy Canyon? With any luck, we’ll be headed that direction in late May. Can’t wait!

  2. Kymee Martinak January 30, 2014 at 6:56 AM #

    Kymeesoutdoorworld.com Love for you they won’t be as good as yours but…. anyway… well thank you.My husband and I on one of our roads trips we took on our Harleys we stopped and ate at a BBQ place seemed to very popular and was great food.

    ;o)

    • XplorMor February 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM #

      Hi Kymee. I checked out your blog and tried to sign up by clicking the “follow me” but it wouldn’t work. Thought you should know. Great adventures 🙂

  3. Kymee Martinak January 29, 2014 at 7:59 PM #

    Very good I look forward to it. I did two blog posts telling about the guys fishing trip that happens for the trout opener every year… I will pass your blogs on for more to enjoy.
    God bless
    Kymee

    • XplorMor January 30, 2014 at 5:57 AM #

      What is address for your blog? I’d love to read your adventures 🙂

  4. Kymee Martinak January 29, 2014 at 11:34 AM #

    WOW, it really never ceases to amaze me the beauty it really never ends. I think the key is get off that 395 or you will miss as you say a whole other world.

    • XplorMor January 29, 2014 at 12:53 PM #

      Truly. We found out about this area by accident. I was looking for places to stay and came across Glacier Lodge. Had no idea how well it was situated. The Sierras are in its backyard, and there’s several trail heads leading the hiker into their magnificence. Thank you for your interest, and I’ll let you know what else we find in the area… we’ll be headed there between May-June. Best!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*