Here are some places to consider for a break, a nap, or a night on the last forty miles of the John Muir Trail.
Small Tarn Near Twin Lakes (~ 162 miles from Happy Isles) Map. This is another great place for a break and for a photo opportunity. The tarn is actually on the west side of the trail (the Twin Lakes are on the east) and it’s best to leave the trail well before the tarn because the ground is much softer the closer you get (even late in the year). If you’re a photographer, spend some time working the scene. The reflection of what I believe is Mount Clarence King is quite striking.
Golden Gate of the Sierra Nevada (~ 167 miles from Happy Isles) Map. This suspension bridge is probably the second most famous spot on the trail, next to the Muir Hut at the top of Muir Pass. There are tons of campsites nearby (mostly on the east side), with ample water from Woods Creek. One person on the bridge at a time, please!
Dollar Lake (~ 170 miles from Happy Isles) Map. We’re starting to get into one of the more scenic stretches of the trail. From Dollar Lake all the way to the top of Glen Pass there are some great spots to stop, either for a few minutes or the night. I enjoy taking a break at Dollar Lake, and when I do I always relax on this small peninsula that juts into the water. The best part: the view of Fin Dome reflecting off the surface. If you would like to camp nearby, Arrowhead Lake (just a short distance further down the trail) is probably the superior choice for an overnight stay.
Rae Lakes (~ 172 miles from Happy Isles) Map or Map. Neither of these spots are suitable for camping, but if you’ve spent the previous night at Arrowhead Lake, they are both great places for breakfast or a break. The view of the Painted Lady is particularly good. Once you leave here the climb to Glen Pass awaits.
Timberline Lake (~ 205 miles from Happy Isles) Map. Camping is prohibited at Timberline Lake, but it is a fine spot to stop on the way to Guitar Lake, for your last night in the woods. While the area around Guitar Lake is treeless and exposed, Timberline is, well, at the tree-line and quite pleasant. If you’ve hit this spot early enough, you may want to linger here a bit before pressing on to Guitar Lake.
Over these past five posts I’ve tried to pick some spots that are worth your attention. While there are certainly days when you need to make some time towards your mileage goal, don’t get in the habit of rushing past the beauty. Take frequent breaks and pick your campsites carefully in order to get the most out of your trip.
Good hiking, Ray
The Ranger I met at Crabtree explained that camping at the lake is prohibited. But camping at the inlet, 25 yards from the lake is just fine. We ended up having our dinner there and pressing on to Guitar
If you are talking about Timberline Lake, Byron, I did not know that. It’s a gorgeous spot!
Thanks for this series Ray. Helpful for planning and photos are incredible! fred