California never stops surprising me, I thought I knew all the most interesting landmarks of the state (I’ve been all the way from San Diego to the Washington state). Besides Lake Tahoe I never considered traveling to Eastern California, until a friend told me about a place called North Palisades, when I first saw the Google pictures I couldn’t believe it was in California near a desert..
A little intro.. North Palisades is the third highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range topping at 14249 feet within the John Muir Wilderness. It also has it’s own proglacial lake, which appears turqouise due to the glacier powder suspended in water.
The glacier and/or the Big Pine Lakes can be visited by a fairly strenuous day hike of between 10 and 20 miles, and an elevation gain of up to 4,000 feet. It took us around 4 hours to get to the second lake (we got hit by the altitude sickness). Anyways after some research we found out that the second lake was the biggest and most beautiful. There you can visit up to 7 lakes.
Mobile signal is very good along the road but in case something happens getting there it’s pretty easy… From the US Highway 395 in the center of Big Pine, CA turn west at Crocker street (You’ll see a sign and a gas station). Follow the the road for about 20 mins, past the campgrounds and the overnight parking. At the end of the road you’ll find the trailhead for the North Fork Big Pine Creek Trail.
We had one more day to kill so we wanted to explore more, our first option was Sequoia because it seemed so close in the map, when we checked it was 5 hours away!! We kept looking until we found Mono Lake which is hour and a half away from Big Pine, I visited this northern part of this lake before and it didn’t amused much but this time we went to the south tufa formations; which are pretty amazing. About the tufas “These unusual spires and knobs are formed when calcium-bearing freshwater springs well up through alkaline lake water, which is rich in carbonates. The calcium and carbonate combine, precipitating out as limestone. Over many years, a tower forms around the mouth of the spring. This tufa forming reaction happens only in the lake itself. As the lake level drops and exposes the tufa towers, they cease to grow”
After visiting the lake of course we needed to find a place to sleep, so again we used our google maps to find a campground, we noticed that 20 mins south west are lots of lakes (with campgrounds of course), these lakes are beautiful. Again I am surprised with this area in California it is so beautiful and so diverse not only the landscapes but the towns are beautiful.
If you live in California I encourage you to visit these places, they are close to Southern California and are less popular than the main parks like Yosemite or Sequoia but the experience is as rewarding as it is in those places.
Thank you for reading!