Elevation: 7,300 (trailhead) to 8,890 (Fern Lake)
Mileage: 3 miles
Midway through our week in the Sierras, we changed our base location to June Lake. We had a wonderful stay in one of Reverse Creek Lodge’s cabins. From June Lake, there is wonderful access to many day hikes and 4WD roads between June Lake and Mammoth.
Many of the hikes in the June Lake area begin right along State Route 158, which loops around the entire June Lake basin. This makes for easy access from the road, but it also means that most of the area’s trails climb upwards from lake level, making for some steep hikes.
The trailhead for Fern Lake begins at a marked trailhead parking area just past Gull Lake the and June Mountain Ski Area. When we were visiting, the forest service was doing some logging right around the trailhead, but operations were suspended for the holiday weekend.
The trail begins with a gradual first ascent through a gorgeous aspen grove, and then begins climbing steeply upwards, following switchbacks among junipers and pines. There are plenty of nice boulders along the trail to take a quick rest, and enjoy the views of Gull Lake and Silver Lake down below.
Around 1 mile, the trail reaches Fern Creek Falls, where the stream cascades over rocks beneath the trail. Our trail for Fern Lake forked to the right and began to ascend even more steeply upward in a rocky climb. Just as we were beginning to wonder if we would ever stop climbing, we arrived at the lake.
Fern Lake is surrounded by the exquisite heights of Carson Peak and the San Joaquin Ridge. We enjoyed skipping rocks and eating lunch before heading back down.