Alpine Lakes in the Eastern Sierra to Hike This Summer

California alpine lakes are a great way to spend the summer weekends. An alpine lake is a lake at a high altitude in the mountains, usually near or above the treeline. Treeline in the Eastern Sierra ranges on average from 8,000 – 12,000 ft.

Ready to plan your summer hiking adventure?

If you’re looking to swim at some high-altitude lakes in the mountains, below are some of my favorite California hikes to pretty lakes of all different hike distances and levels, most of which can be done as a day hike or a quick weekend trip!⛰️

Don’t forget your sunblock and light travel towel!

Turquoise-Colored Lakes in Eastern Sierra Mountains

Parker Lake

girl in red eddie bauer butter pack at parker lake by june lake, eastern sierra california
Short and EASY hike near June Lake.
Less than 2 miles one-way.

Big Pine Lakes:
North Fork to Third Lake

girl in big pine lakes, glacial lake, eastern sierra california
8.4 miles hike to all 7 Big Pine Lakes but only 5.5 miles to Second Lake which is the most popular. Third and Fifth Lake are the other turquoise-colored lakes worth checking out.

Deer Lakes

asian girl in white bikini and dog in glacial lake, deer lakes, mammoth lakes, eastern sierra california
6.2 miles one way. This one is really nice because it’s much less crowded and a bit more remote while still holding beautiful green-turquoise colors

Duck Lake

girl in red bikini in duck lake, mammoth lakes alpine lakes, eastern sierra california
5.6 miles one way. Easy-moderate hike in Mammoth Lakes

Big Pine Lakes:
South Fork to Finger Lake

girl with ponytail in finger lake, south fork big pine, glacial lake, eastern sierra california
<6 miles one-way, and includes a short class 2 scramble and route-finding at the end. This is one of the most turquoise & coldest water in the Sierra Nevada I’ve been to.

Consultation Lake

asian girl in turquoise consultation lake, mt whitney zone, eastern sierra california
This one is on the Mt Whitney Trail which does require a specific permit. It’s actually a vibrant blue color which can be easily reached just before Trail Camp.

Scenic Alpine Lakes in CA (Non-Glacial / Non-Turquoise)

Minaret Lake

asian girl in minaret lake, alpine lakes, eastern sierra california
Highly recommend this one – it’s a long loop for a day hike but doable if you’re fast or have overnight permits. This adventurous loop passes Ediza Lake, Iceberg Lake, Cecil Lake, and Minaret Lake.

Red Lake

tiff at red lake at split mountain, eastern sierra california
This is a great camp spot if you’re climbing Split Mountain in two days. The trail to get here honestly kind of sucks but the lake and views are freaking gorgeous!

Blue Lake

Followtiffsjourney at blue lake in bishop, eastern sierra mountains of california. photo by Josh Steele @outofthewoods
Blue Lake in Bishop starts at Sabrina Lake TH. It’s about 3 miles one way and accesses an entire lakes basin if you continue onwards!

Thousand Island Lake

girl in thousand island lake, alpine lakes, eastern sierra california
This is similar to the previous loop but to the opposite side of Ansel Adams Wilderness to Ediza Lake, Garnett Lake, and Thousand Island Lake, with views of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter.

Treasure Lakes

girl at treasure lakes, little lakes valley, glacial lakes, eastern sierra california
From Little Lakes Valley: The hike to Gem Lake (not pictured) is easy, and the trail up here to Treasure Lake after requires cross-country hiking and navigational skills.

Lower Lamarck Lake

girl at lower lamarck lake in bishop, eastern sierra california
Lower Lamarck Lake in Bishop: 1.84 miles one way with 1318 ft of elevation gain. It’s short but a great workout and there’s an upper Lamarck Lake you can hike to beyond this.

Looking for alpine lakes hikes in Colorado? You might enjoy these: Lake Haiyaha & Island Lake

Booking travel soon?
Please consider using my affiliate links below. It costs nothing additional for you but helps me maintain the ever-increasing costs of running a travel blog:

Book your flights here.
Book your accommodations here on Expedia,,, and VRBO.
Book your car rentals here.
Book your tours here.

Book your travel insurance here.

Take care of the land, someday you’ll part of it.

Ready for the lakes? Don’t forget to prepare for the sun! Check out these 5 essential items to pack for fun in the sun!

summer hiking essential adventure pack list
Thanks for reading!
I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below :)
& please don't forget to practice LEAVE NO TRACE

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top