Skip to Content

6 Unmissable Hikes in June Lake with Breathtaking Scenery 

6 Unmissable Hikes in June Lake with Breathtaking Scenery 

If you’re planning a trip to the “Switzerland of California,” you’re probably wondering what to do in June Lake. This peaceful park sits in the Inyo National Forest, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It consists of four major lakes, numerous creeks, and a couple of lovely waterfalls, aka an ideal area for hiking.

The June Lake Loop drive will take you to some of these scenic spots. However, many smaller but equally beautiful lakes in the area are only accessible on foot. Therefore, hiking is the best way to enjoy the untouched natural beauty, so be sure to add one of these hikes in June Lake to your itinerary. 

Best Hikes in June Lake

Hiking is one of the top things to do in June Lake for all. This list of June Lake hiking trails, you’ll find routes of all difficulties and lengths, ranging from 2 to 7 miles and gentle to strenuous. 

But first: Don’t miss the other California hiking guides for your other travels!

1. Gull Lake Trail

  • Length: 2 miles (3.2 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

One of the shortest and most gentle June Lake hikes is the 2-mile loop around Gull Lake. This small lake sits just below June Lake, and the trailhead on Granite Avenue is easy to find. The trail is mainly flat, but the shade is limited, so it’s best to do this walk early in the morning or just before sunset. 

The route loops around the scenic lake, passing through several wildflower meadows that look stunning during the spring and summer. Fall is also a lovely season to hike this trail as it has attractive fall foliage during these months. Another iconic sight on this route is the rope swing that juts out into the lake, giving some incredible photo opportunities. 

Parker Lake

2. Parker Lake Trail

  • Length: 3.6 miles (5.8 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 652 feet (199 m)

Parker Lake is a small lake close to the famous Grant Lake and is not accessible by car. It’s 3.6-miles (5.8 km) from the trailhead at the end of Parker Lake Road to the lake. The trail gives terrific views throughout, including Mono Lake and the summits of Mount Wood, Mount Lewis, and Parker Peak in the distance. 

It’s a somewhat challenging hike with a moderate climb at the beginning, where you will ascend 315 feet in 0.4 miles (96m in 0.64km). The trail stays above Parker Creek Canyon, passing through several aspen groves and a small pine grove. After the forests, you’ll reach a clearing revealing the jaw-dropping view that makes this one of the best trails in June Lake.

3. Fern Lake Trail

  • Length: 3.1 miles (5 km)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 1564 feet (477 m)

A challenging but extremely rewarding trail in June Lake is the route to Fern Lake, located in the middle of the famous June Lake Loop. The challenging trek has a steep incline and high elevation gain of 1,564 feet, so it is not for the faint-hearted. However, the epic views, refreshing waterfalls, and small beach at Fern Lake make it worth the effort.

The 3-mile climb begins between Whispering Pines and Fern Creek Lodge on June Lake Loop. About halfway into the walk, you’ll reach a stream crossing. Going straight ahead here leads to Fern Lake, but you can also go left towards Yost Lake. 

It typically takes between 2 and 3 hours to reach the lake and the same to come back, so bring plenty of snacks and water. You can also hike this trail in the winter when the lake freezes over, but you will need snowshoes as the snow gets pretty deep. 

Carson Peak

4. Yost Lake Trail

  • Length: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1791 feet (546 m)

Yost Lake is a small lake between June Mountain and Carson Peak. As a result, the route gives unforgettable vistas on either side as you walk down to one of the most tranquil parts of June Lake. The Yost Lake Trail shares the same trailhead as Fern Lake, and the first section is the same (for around 1 mile.) 

The route to Yost Lake is longer than Fern Lake but feels less strenuous as there are not so many steep inclines. Aside from the beautiful mountain vistas, you’ll enjoy varied scenery, from woods to meadows to streams.

5. Reversed Peak Trail

  • Length: 6.9 miles (11.1 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1968 feet (600 m)

The Reversed Peak trailhead is located just south of June Lake on Northshore Drive. It is undoubtedly one of the hidden gems in the park as it takes you to the highest point in the June Lake Loop. From here, you’ll enjoy 360-degree views of the entire area, spotting several lakes and many notable peaks.

There is a short and extended version of this walk, but I highly recommend making the extra effort to do the latter. This is because the shorter 3.5-mile route does not take you to the top of the mountain. The longer route is almost 7 miles both ways and takes between 3 and 4 hours. 

It’s not too strenuous for a mountain climb, so you don’t need to be a pro hiker to do this one. But, if you want to make the experience extra-special, I recommend starting the climb before sunrise, so you reach the top as the day is dawning.

Silver Lake

6. Rush Creek Trail to Gem Lake

  • Length: 6.6 miles (10.6 km)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 2080 feet (634 m)

If you’re looking for challenging June Lake trails, the Rush Creek Trail to Gem Lake is for you. The 6.6-mile (10.6 km) route starts at Silver Lake Campground and leads to part of Inyo National Forest, only accessible on foot.

From the campground, the route follows the shore of Silver Lake before reaching Rush Creek. The trail then hugs the creek until arriving at the small but scenic Horsetail Waterfall. Then, it passes Agnew Lake, which has a peaceful ambiance but is not visually as beautiful as the other lakes because part of it has been turned into a reservoir. 

Unfortunately, some people mistake Agnew Lake for Gem Lake and turn back at this point. But, if you continue another 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the gorgeous Gem Lake, the highlight of the hike. The trail has many steep and rocky sections, so you’ll need some previous hiking experience and a good fitness level for this one.

Bear in mind that this trail is an out and back route that takes 3 to 4 hours one way. So, you’ll need to schedule it as a half-day hike, start early and take a packed lunch and plenty of water. Although the trail is long, it’s much quieter than some other trails here, so it is an excellent hike if you’re in June Lake during peak season.