Finger Lake via South Fork Big Pine Creek Trail

1 review #195 hike out of 602 in
8.3 mi
3 hrs 55 min
2,467 ft
Elev Gain


South Fork Big Pine Creek Trail provides a scenic alternative to the ever popular North Fork. It is also the most popular approach for climbers seeking to climb Middle Palisade.

From the trailhead at Glacier Lodge, the trail follows the south fork of Big Pine Creek through a glacially carved valley. The trail crosses the creek approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead. A bridge here was washed out in 2011 and has not been replaced. Therefore, during the early season, crossing the creek can be difficult and dangerous. In some cases, safer crossings may be found by bushwhacking upstream from the old bridge location but should only be attempted by experienced individuals.

At the head-wall of the valley, the trail ascends a steep gradient to reach the upper basin. Again, during the early season, a persistent snowfield can linger on the uppermost switchback and can impede travel.

The trail becomes primitive below Brainard lake and requires moderate route-finding to follow.

Getting Started

From Hwy 395 in Big Pine, follow Glacier Lodge Road east to reach the trailhead. There are limited parking spots in the closest day-hikers only parking area but roadside parking and overnight parking areas are available further away from the trailhead. Alternatively, you can ask the good folks at Glacier Lodge if you can pay to park on their property. There are bear boxes and an out house at the trailhead.

Contact Inyo Forest Service for current conditions and regulations.

Taking Children

The first mile of this trail is well suited for children.

    Rate this Hike

    7 months, 3 weeks ago
    Mosquitos were out in force about halfway up. The climb up was tough but the views made it all worthwhile. Once we set up camp the mosquitos chilled out. Don't forget bug spray, I did and my son paid dearly (they don't bother me much).
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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