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RichardK

Little Lakes Valley

We just spent three days hiking in the Little Lakes Valley. This valley offers world class scenery compacted into hikes of four miles or less with easy grades on well maintained trails. Put this place on your bucket list. After living at sea level for 16 months, I knew we needed an acclimatizing plan. To arrive rested, we spent first night in a motel near the Ontario Airport. The second day we drove to Tom's Place at 7,000' where we stayed. The third day we played the tourists and checked out Mono Lake (6,372') and the Panum Crater (7,037'). Finally, on day four, we were ready to hike out of Mosquito Flat, the highest trailhead in the Sierra at 10,250'.

Mono Lake is worth a look in its own right.




The gulls that feast on the insects barely sink into the mineral laden waters.




Several short trails offer views of the Panum Crater, a rhyolitic plug-dome volcano. One trail leads you up a long mound outside the main crater.




Another trail takes you into the central dome, a riot of rocks.




Our first objective in the Sierra was Morgan Pass.  Rock Creek is your constant companion on this hike.




The first of many lakes is Mack Lake,




The trail continues to Marsh Lake.




A chipmonk paused on a rock to have his picture made.




Heart Lake has to be seen from above to reveal its true shape.




Box Lake is, well, long and boxy I suppose.




Here is the southern end of Long Lake.




As you approach the Morgan Pass, spur trails can be hiked to see Chickenfoot Lake and the Gem Lakes.  The Morgan Pass lies between two unnamed 12,000' foot peaks.




The switchbacks up to the pass offer a sweeping view of the valley. That is Chickenfoot Lake right of center.




The Gem Lakes are visible below as well.




The Morgan Pass. Some of these passes have a sign post, but not this one. I had hoped for a view down to the Upper and Lower Morgan Lakes, but the landscape did not permit it.




Long Lake on the way back.




As the day draws to a close, here is another look at Rock Creek.




The next day we hiked to Kenneth Lake.  The same trail has spurs to Francis and Dorothy Lakes. It eventually ends at the Tamarack Lakes. The trail has a nice view of Rock Creek Lake.




Kenneth Lake lacks an inlet creek. It depends solely on rainfall and snow melt for water. Apparently, there has not been much of that as Kenneth was more of a mud puddle than a lake.




The mud attracted quarter sized frogs that searched for bugs.






On the third day, we returned to Mosquito Flat to hike to Ruby Lake. This trail gains altitude quickly with great views into the valley.






Heart Lake actually looks like a heart from above.




A small pond on the Ruby Lake trail.




Another pond just before the lake was full of brook trout.




Ruby Lake. It's larger than it looks in this wide angle pano.




Happy hikers at Ruby Lake.

HikeUp

Excellent!
Uncle Rico

Nice photography Richard.

That area really is nice and justly popular. Finding a parking spot at Mosquito Flat can be a challenge. Never been up that trail to Ruby so appreciate those pics. Another place I need to visit.  Cool
RichardK

Little Lakes Valley

Thanks, guys!

Uncle Rico wrote:
Finding a parking spot at Mosquito Flat can be a challenge.


We made a point of getting to Mosquito Flat by 8AM.  There were always 6 to 8 parking spaces open. This was Friday and Sunday mornings. There is an overflow lot about a quarter mile below. It was half full. So, some people are getting there to find the main lot filled up. There is no roadside parking for the last mile as it is a one lane road. There is literally nowhere to pull off the road. The forest service has frequent "No Parking" signs along this stretch.
girlhiker70

Hi Richard
I hiked Mosquito flats a few weeks ago. My favorite lake was Heart lake. Mono pass is pretty awesome as well.
Great pics!
JeffH

I've always said Little Lakes Valley is the greatest easy hike in the Sierras.
You have to go down a little from Morgan Pass to see the two lakes, probably about a half mile to the upper and about the same to lower.



Upper Morgan Lake



Lower Morgan Lake, I didn't walk all the way to the shore.

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