6 Must-Do Hikes in June Lake, California (+ Tips!)

Looking for the best hikes in June Lake, California?

For outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, June Lake is one of the most compelling destinations in the Eastern Sierra. The June Lake Loop drive is a must-do when it is open.

Along the route you will find numerous recreational opportunities, from boating to fishing and picnicking.

Reflections at Parker Lake in June Lake, California
Reflections in Parker Lake in the fall

Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in June Lake when the weather is warm enough that snow has receded from the trails.

With its many alpine lakes and surrounding mountains, June Lake offers a spectacularly scenic setting and splendid hiking trails for all levels.

The best June Lake hikes are varied in length and difficulty level, but most of the hikes in the region involve uphill walking to one degree or another. But your reward is spectacular panoramas and views of beautiful alpine lakes.

Excited? Let’s discover the best hiking trails in June Lake, California!

Gull Lake Shore Nature Trail

Level: Easy, some scrambling
Length: About 2 miles, loop
Elevation Gain: 65 feet
Time: 45 minutes to 90 minutes
Trailhead: Library/Community Center

The lake shore trail around Gull Lake is an easy to low moderate June Lake hiking trail, suitable for families and others that are looking for a relatively flat nature trail to savor the beauty of the region.

This trail is especially scenic in the fall, when you’ll see trees dressed in yellow reflected in the still waters of the lake.

Gull Lake California in the Fall
Gull Lake in the fall

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Along the route, you get superb views of the water, and of the aspen groves and willows at the water’s edge. There are scenic rock outcroppings at the south end. Enjoy wildflowers in the spring and leaf colors in the fall. Lots of birds too!

Trail signs are limited and there are a few different paths at the south end, but it’s easy to find your way. There’s also some light rock scrambling involved. Note that part of the trail goes through a campsite (private property).

You can do the loop in either direction, but it’s a tad more scenic if you start at the June Lake Library and Community Center and hike counter clockwise. You will end at the Gull Lake marina.

There is plenty of parking both at the library and at the marina. Leashed dogs are permitted on the Gull Lake Trail.

Parker Lake Trail

Level: Easy to low moderate
Length: About 3.8 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 550 feet
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Trailhead: Parker Lake Road, near Grant Lake on California Highway 158

Possibly our favorite day hike at June Lake, the easy hike to Parker Lake is spectacular if you go during peak fall color, but worth doing during the spring and summer as well, with splendid views and lots of wildflowers.

Parker Lake California in the Summer
Parker Lake in the summer

The relatively low-key ascent is mostly at the start of the trail, but along the route, you are rewarded with aerial views of Mono Lake and the surrounding lunar-like landscape.

The flora is mainly sagebrush as you start, but gives way to pines and aspens as you near Parker Creek.

In the spring and early summer, the stretch of trail that runs by the creek will have lots of varieties of wildflowers. In the fall, the aspens turn to brilliant yellow.

The scenery here is quite spectacular, but Parker Lake, at the base of Parker Peak, is just as, or even a little more, breathtaking.

Leashed dogs are permitted on the Parker Lake Trail. The ascent is exposed for the most part, so start early in the day if possible.

To get to the trailhead, drive Parker Lake Road (a dirt road deemed passable for sedans) for about 2.5 miles, to the small dirt parking lot. Parker Lake Road is located off California Highway 158 (June Lake Loop Road) by Grant Lake.

If you are looking for accommodation in June Lake, check out the Double Eagle Resort and Spa: it is nestled up against the mountains for a superbly scenic and tranquil setting, and offers rooms and cottages. There is a full service spa, for post-hike relaxation. Book a stay here!

Fern Lake Trail

Level: Strenuous
Length: About 3.5 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 1,600 feet
Time: 4-6 hours
Trailhead: Off the June Lake Loop, near the Double Eagle Resort, about 1.5 miles from June Lake Village. Look for the sign.

The uphill Fern Lake Trail climbs steadily all the way to the top and is quite steep. Along the route, you get beautiful views of June Lake, Gull Lake, and Silver Lake, and the surrounding area.

Mule Deer in June Lake California
A mule deer!

The trail is rocky, with some loose gravel, and you may need to take breaks to catch your breath and take in the views. The route features beautiful flora of different types, and you may see birds and deer.

Part way up, you can take a short detour along the trail to Yost Lake to see beautiful Fern Creek, which looks like a waterfall, before you head back up the trail.

Fern Lake itself is a beautiful tranquil lake, and there is a beach. It’s a great spot to relax after your climb and to have lunch or snacks. You can also dip your toes in the water, or take a dip: the water is ice cold.

Fern Lake in California
Beautiful Fern Lake PC: Jessica

Enjoy a variety of colorful wildflowers along the trail in late spring and summer, and beautiful foliage colors come fall. If you enjoy fishing, Fern Lake offers trout fishing.

Fern Lake Trail is dog friendly, but you must leash your dog. You can combine a hike to Fern Lake with a hike to Yost Lake.

Yost Lake Hike

Level: Strenuous
Length: About 4.5 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 1,700 feet
Time: 4-6 hours
Trailhead: Off the June Lake Loop, near the Double Eagle Resort, about 1.5 miles from June Lake Village. Look for the sign.

There are a few different ways to get to Yost Lake, but the route we describe here is the same trail that you would take for Fern Lake. Another trail starts across the road from the June Lake Fire Station, but it much longer.

Yost Lake in California
Tranquil Yost Lake PC: Alex

The trail that goes to both Yost and Fern Lakes starts in the forest but soon starts climbing steadily, offering views of Silver Lake and Mount Wood. At about one mile up, you will come to a junction, where you take the fork toward Yost Lake.

Just after you take the trail at the fork, you will come to the crossing for Fern Creek. Be warned: the flow of the water can be dangerously powerful with snow melt in the spring and early summer. There is a narrow wooden bridge. Use good judgment and exercise great caution.

Log Bridge over Fern Creek on the way to Yost Lake, California
Log bridge on Fern Creek PC: Ryan

The trail continues through forest, with intermittent views of the June Lake Loop lakes below. Enjoy a plethora of wildflowers in late spring and early summer, and foliage colors in the fall.

As you approach Yost Meadow and Yost Lake, the trail flattens out. Yost Lake is peaceful and scenic, and a great spot to have lunch. Look for birds and wildlife.

Rush Creek Trail to Lake Agnew and Gem Lake

Level: Strenuous
Length: About 7.25 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 2,000 feet
Time: 4-6 hours
Trailhead: By Silver Lake, near the Frontier Pack Station

Rush Creek Trail actually connects June Lake with the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the John Muir Trail. But you can also do a day hike up to Agnew Lake, or Gem Lake, and back.

Even part way up the trail, you get fabulous views of the June Lake Loop lakes below.

Gem Lake in California
A view of Gem Lake

If you do plan to get up to Lake Agnew, the toughest part of the climb will be behind you, and we suggest allowing for more time and hiking up further to Gem Lake.

Agnew Lake has visible man-made structures, and it may seem like too small a payoff for the climb.

Along the route, you will also get great views of Horsetail Falls, June Lake’s tallest waterfall. If you are looking for a shorter hike, you can turn around here.

But if you keep climbing, you will arrive at Agnew Lake, where the trail levels off before climbing again to Gem Lake.

At Gem Lake, you can walk along the edge to the western end, where you have access to a beach. This is a great spot to have a picnic lunch before heading back.

The trail goes steadily uphill from the start, and is almost entirely exposed, so start early in the day.

Note that there is a creek crossing along the trail that may have fast-moving water during snow melt season, making is dangerous to attempt the crossing.

Good to know: This trail is also used as a pack trail, so you may encounter folks on horseback or horse droppings along the trail.

Reversed Peak Trail

Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Length: About 4 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: About 1,600 feet
Time: 3-4 hours
Trailhead: North Shore Drive, near the Ball Park

This trail is the most direct route to Reversed Peak, but involves some not-so-easy rock scrambling (you will have to use your hands) if you want to reach the very top, where you can sign a tin can register and take in the views.

Mule Ears in bloom in the Sierras
Mule ears in a common wildflower in the High Sierra

The trail starts as a steep road that becomes a trail after about half a mile. You will see junipers and Jeffrey pines. After a while, the trail plateaus and you hike past several small alpine lakes.

Along the route, watch for views of Mount Ritter and Banner Peak. Soon you will come to mass of boulders that marks the summit. If you are able to scramble up the boulders, you will have 360-degree views.

Look for Mono Lake shimmering in the distance, June Lake and Gull Lake below, and a number of mountain peaks, from Carson Peak and San Joaquin Mountain to the Minarets, Mount Ritter, and Banner Peak.

This trail features lots of nice flora and wildflowers in the late spring and into the summer. Look for deer!

Tips for Hiking in June Lake

Best Time of Year to Hike in June Lake

Summer and fall are the best times to hike in the June Lake region. You may still encounter snow at higher elevations in the early summer, or later in the fall.

In the summer, you will enjoy beautiful green vegetation and colorful wildflowers along the trails and on the slopes. In the fall, the leaf peeping is some of the best in the Eastern Sierra.

Creeks can be forceful in the late spring and early summer due to snow melt, so be extremely cautious and turn back if conditions are not safe.

If you hike during the fringe months, when there is likely to be snow or ice on the trails, wear appropriate footwear, for example, hiking boots with microspikes.

Parker Lake in California
Parker Lake in the fall

Follow Safety Guidelines and Advice

The trails in June Lake are under the jurisdiction of the Inyo National Forest. Talk with rangers to get recommendations and suggestions for trails appropriate for your hiking party, and follow safety guidelines.

You can speak with rangers at the Mammoth Ranger District Center in Mammoth Lakes.

Check the weather forecast

Weather in the mountains can change abruptly. Always check the weather forecast right before you leave, and be prepared to turn back if conditions deteriorate after you embark on your hike.

Best Time of Day to Hike in June Lake

Many trails are partially or almost entirely exposed. Start early in the day so you can do most or all of the uphill sections while it is still cool.

Plan to complete your hike while there is still daylight. Late in the day, mountains cast shadows over the lakes, making for poor views and photos. Ideally, you want to be at the lakes when they are exposed and sparkling.

Trail to Parker Lake in the summer
Hiking to Parker Lake on a bright summer day

Be Aware of the Altitude

June Lake is already at an elevation of 7,654 feet above sea level, and many June Lake hikes take you up another 1,000 to 2,000 feet. Take the time to get acclimated to the elevation, and learn to recognize the signs of altitude sickness.

In general, hike at a slower pace than you normally do, breathe deep and take breaks, and stay fueled and hydrated. Hiking slower will also help you take in the beauty of the flora and fauna along the trails, and the stunning views in the region.

Download or Print Trail Maps

You may not always have cell reception, so be sure to download and/or print trail maps ahead of time. The hikes we have described are pretty straightforward, but you still want good trail maps.

Hiking the Gull Lake Loop in California
Fall color from Gull Lake

Carry plenty of water

Staying hydrated is crucial, so be sure to carry and drink an adequate supply of water on your hike. Bring a filled hydration pack or filled water bottles with you on your hikes.

The day hikes we have described here are not super long, so you should be able to bring enough drinking water with you, but remember to purify water from natural sources before drinking, no matter how clean it looks. This involves coming prepared.

Carry food and snacks

Carry a supply of snacks to fuel up on your June Lake hikes, and a meal if you plan to hike for several hours. Invest in a light and easy-to-carry daypack to stow food and other supplies.

Dark-eyed junco in California
The dark-eyed junco is one of the birds you may see on the trail in June Lake

Dress in Layers

Always dress in layers to account for temperature differences during the course of the day, and at different elevations. While it may be warm in June Lake, it can be cool at a lake another 1,500 feet higher up.

Wear loose, light colored clothing for sun protection. We generally wear clothing with SPF protection if we know we are going to be in the sun for several hours. Check this women’s shirt on Amazon or this men’s shirt.

Wear Appropriate Footwear

Sturdy, closed-toed footwear with excellent grip is a must. Lightweight hiking shoes or boots are best. We wear the La Sportiva brand hiking boots: they are not heavy, they are waterproof, and they are super comfy. Here is the link to the men’s shoes and the women’s shoes on Amazon.

Even in good weather, trails can have loose gravel and can be difficult while descending if you do not have good grip. If there is snow or ice on the trail, you definitely need shoes with great grip.

A view of Lake Agnew in California
Lake Agnew from the Rush Creek Trail

Use Sun Protection

Sun protection is absolutely critical: many hiking trails at June Lake are at higher elevations and exposed.

Use a wide-brimmed hat with SPF protection, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Don’t forget SPF lip balm as well.

Bring Essential Supplies

Pack these essentials in your daypack for your June Lake hikes: a first-aid kit, disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer, headlamp or flashlight, and a pocket knife.

Bring your trekking poles if you anticipate needing them: they are super useful on uphill-downhill hikes!

Do not forget bug spray. Mosquitoes can be a real menace in swampy parts along the trails and by the lakes, especially early and late in the day and in dark wooded portions.

Also, do not forget your camera (the views are a big reason to do these June Lake hikes!), and binoculars to view birds or wildlife.

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Discover the best hikes in June Lake California! Trails lead to alpine lakes and stunning Eastern Sierra scenery for great workouts!


Dhara loves to explore her home state of California. With her husband Kishore, she has done numerous road trips in the state in every season. She hopes to share her love of the Golden State with you, and help you find your own exciting experiences here.

4 thoughts on “6 Must-Do Hikes in June Lake, California (+ Tips!)”

  1. This is fantastic! My wife and I are going in 2 weeks and want to hike some of these. Thank you so much. Although, she is a bit scared of bears. Do you think that will be a problem? She wonders if there a place where you can meet up and hike with other hikers. Safety in numbers.
    Thank you again for putting this together.

    • Hi Rod, it’s summer, so it’s very likely there will be other hikers on these trails. You can ask the concierge or manager at your accommodation for the best chance of being able to go with someone else. The visitor center in Mammoth Lakes can also offer current info on bear activity and options for group hiking. You are likely to run into bears anywhere in the area, and at any time: we were standing at Mamie Lake in Mammoth Lakes taking photos when a bear got out of the lake just a few feet from us. He just walked off, though!


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