1000 I Lake camp via John Muir Trail
This is the JMT! Easy? Not! But the route shown is blissful trek from Devil's Postpile up to the spectacular 1000 I Lake camp in Devils Postpile National Monument.
It's strange to list this a single hike. I did this trail in 2020 (Yes, Covid 19 times) hiking from Silver Lake on the Rush Creek Trail to 1000 Island Lake and then continuing down to Devil's Postpile. We hiked at a leisurely pace of about 8 miles per day, and the trail shown would indeed lend itself to a 3 or 4 night backpack trip. 1000 Island lake is one of those destinations that you get tired of hearing everyone say "Have you been to 1000 Island Lake?" I was happy to check it off as I did the second half of my Dog-Friendly JMT. Once I got there, I saw what people meant. A giant lake with a complicated shoreline of coves and islands and an abundant number of places that entice you to sit, swim, or fish as is your wont. As shown here, the trail would wind up from Devil's Postpile. The first 2 miles of the trail head north on the western side of the canyon across from the amazing geology of the Devil's Postpile. The trail is a bit exposed and can be hot on an afternoon until you get into the tree-covered sections near Johnston Lake. You are in for an uphill, since the trail starts at about 7,800 feet and tops out at over 10,000 ft.
Take your time and enjoy as you climb because you'll be passing many lakes along this enchanting path. Marshy and sometimes buggy Johnston Lake is first, and then the trail ascended to the Trinity Lakes where you'll have to leave the trail to appreciate their beauty and perhaps make this you first stop after about 5 miles. Or you can continue past wonderful Gladys Lake to and climb up to Rosalie Lake at 9,400 ft which has a huge campsite located on the north end amidst the large pines. After Rosalie, the trail climbs more up to Shadow Lake which we couldn't enjoy because we were fast marching through the common afternoon thundershowers that fill the summer afternoons. (there's no campling allowed at Shadow anyway.) From Shadow, you climb up the creek of the same name until the JMT makes a right and climbs up to a 10,000 ft plateau with it's own little lakes (Clerice and Laura Lakes).
From the plateau, the trail opens out and gives you a view of Garnet Lake. The only problem with Garnet Lake is that, as beautiful as it is, you'll soon see 1000 Island Lake, and Garnet doesn't quite compare. The trail drops down to the outfall of Garnet which has a nifty footbridge for pictures and then arcs around the lake and climbs up to the divide at 10,000 ft again before dropping down into 1000 Island Lake. The trail goes up the north side of 10,000 Island Lake. Your only quandry now is "how much solitude do you want." Hike the whole 2 miles to the end of the lake and I don't doubt you could camp with no one around. But usually folks are enchanted by one of the many island, peninsulas, beachs on the way. During the semibusy Covid August, we camped and had two neighboring groups within view. We really didn't mind.
Leave yourself time to enjoy the warm rocks and the cold water. Sunsets over the right shoulder of Mt. Ritter are amazing. Also, please be gentle and LNT at the special place. It's very popular, and gets way too much use, so please pack out your toilet paper and obey rules about fires. We couldn't have a fire any of the nights in this area, and I really didn't mind.
Reverse your route to return to Devil's Postpile. Remember that the last two miles are pretty hot. Enjoy the adoring and worshipful gaze of all the dayhikers oogling your pack as they make their way 1 miles to the Post Pile or Rainbow Falls. (Maybe even go to the falls yourself, it's worth it to go for the soak after your hard hike out.)
The trailhead listed is the Devil's Postpile which has the only overnight parking along with nearby Rainbow Falls Trailhead. In a normal year, you are required to park outside near the lodge and take a bus to the trailhead. In the Covid year, the busses were sidelined,and parking was dear at the above two locations.
This is a challenging backpack trip and therefore not likely to be good for little kids. We did see families with 7 and 10 year olds robustly climbing the trail though. The area is wilderness and not national park, so it's dog friendly and we did it with 6 people and 5 dogs.