HIKE TO: Parker Lake TRAIL: Parker Lake Trail MILES: 3.73 miles out and back TIME: 1:23 hrs DATE I WENT: 6/28/20 DIFFICULTY: easy ELEVATION: 8341 ft ELEVATION GAIN/ LOSS: 720 ft HIKE PERMIT: no for day hikes, yes for overnight PARKING PERMIT: no LOCATION: Eastern Sierra/ Inyo National Forest/ Ansel Adams Wilderness
Parker Lake Trail is a very short and easy hike in the June Lake area up near Mammoth Lakes. The trail is less than 2 miles one way and mostly flat with maybe two very small and short inclines (only a couple feet) so it’s a great option for a family hike or a relaxing hike to stretch your legs after a strenuous hike! This turquoise alpine lake is definitely a bang for your buck hike – little effort, big reward!
I’ve been lucky to visit this gem twice, once recently for a day hike, and it was one of my first overnight backpacking trips in the Eastern Sierra back in July 2016. It’s great for beginners of all kinds but it’s also always been very windy out there for me in July.
It takes about 40 mins to hike to the lake and the first 25 mins are exposed so keep that in mind if yure hiking in the heat. Then, you enter the trees and hike along Parker Creek and there are at least two spots you can easily access the creek right off the trail if you need to filter water or just cool down.
The winds this weekend were high gusts up to 50+ mph… it was the first time I’ve ever seen white-water waves splashing around a tiny alpine lake!
If you plan to backpack to Parker Lake, there are great overnight camping options on the north side of the lake – the right side when you’re looking at the lake. It’s flat with tree coverage and easy access to water. However, there’s not too much to explore from there except walking a little further up along the lake. To access this side of the lake, we had to backtrack just a bit to find a sturdy log to cross Parker Creek. Waking up to the morning reflection out here was 100% worth it.
There is a trail that splits off to Silver Lake just 0.2 miles before reaching Parker Lake if you’re looking to add on some miles.
On the hike out, you also get beautiful views of Mono Lake!