This trip starts at Agnew Meadows along the River Trail. It passes Olaine Lake (8,070') after approximately 2 miles. After leaving Olaine Lake, the River Trail continues along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.
After fording the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin, the trail climbs very steeply along a series of switchbacks. After the switchbacks, the trail appears to dead-end along a boulder field with a waterfall to the North-East and several small trails to the West. The correct trail is a very steep Class 2 scramble up the boulder field.
After negotiating the
field, you cross a pass and Garnet Lake is visible. From this
point, Garnet Lake is very beautiful with grand views of Banner Peak
and Mt. Ritter (13,143') in the background.
Banner Peak on the right and Mt. Ritter on the left
This is where the San Joaquin exits Garnet Lake
After leaving Garnet Lake, the trail follows the South shore along the John Muir Trail, then climbs steeply to a pass at this trails high point of 10,100'. This high point offers spectacular views of the lake and the Ritter Range.
After a 1,300' descent
approach Shadow Lake (8,790').
View of the Minarets before approaching Shadow Lake
on the John Muir Trail
Shadow Lake viewed from the John Muir Trail
After leaving Shadow Lake, you follow the Shadow Lake trail back to Agnews Meadows.
I get many e-mails out this trip, I guess it is the beautiful scenery. I've created this Travel Tips section to help answer the common questions, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
• Where - The entrance used in for this trip is in Devil's Postpile. There is only one way to get
to Devil's Postpile, through the town of Mammoth (203 off highway 395).
• When - The entrance to Devil's Postpile is typically open June/July through November/December
(depending on the smowmelt).
• Maps - Each trail description in this website has a "Topo Maps:" section in the description. This
lists each USGS 7.5' map required to follow the trail from start to finish.
• Lodging - You can stay anywhere in the town of Mammoth (plenty of places to eat, sleep, etc...). If
you want to tent camp, the Devil's Postpile area has numerous campsites. With the exception of
Reds Meadows, none of hot water or showers, but they do have cold water and pit toilets.
• Backpacking - There are many places to backpack within the Ansel Adams Wilderness (including at Garnet
Lake). All require a wilderness permit and you must stay in designated campsites. Be forewarned, the
Ansel Adams Wilderness has plenty of bears. Especially the Garnet Lake / 1,000 Island area.
• Fishing - Fishing at Garnet Lake and 1,000 Island Lake is great. Brook and Rainbow trout are large
• Acclimate - This trail is at high elevation. If possible, acclimate in Mammoth or the Devils Postpile
before attempting this trip
• Be prepared for weather changes - The weather changes very quickly in the Sierras, be prepared.
Although the pictures on this page show very nice weather, in about 30 minutes a storm came in and we got
Winnett, Thomas, Winnett, Jason, Haber, Lyn. 1991. Sierra North: 100 back-country trips. Berkeley: Wilderness Press, p. 233-234 (trip #76).
to Ansel Adams Wilderness
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