JMT Side Trips in the Minarets Wilderness

The Minarets from Ediza Lake.

After reading some of the recent posts on the John Muir Trail Facebook page I noticed some people asking about side trips on the JMT.




The section of the JMT from Thousand Island Lake to Devils Postpile travels within very close proximity of the Minarets and the peaks of the Ritter Range including Banner Peak and Mount Ritter. Unfortunately this section of the JMT passes right by this area without providing good close up views of this amazing range.

I found the portion from Shadow Lake to Johnston Meadow to be somewhat average and the section from Gladys Lake to Devils Postpile was mainly in the forest with a very dusty trail. This dusty trail section is made up of fine pumice left over from ancient volcanic activity in the area.

Although some people may want to stay faithful to the JMT proper there are some options and an alternate loop hike in the area that provide amazing scenery of the iconic Minarets and Ritter Range. If you have an extra day to explore there are several options for day hikes and a great loop.

Here are some descriptions, photos, maps and elevation profiles for three possible side trips:


The first is an easy day hike from Thousand Island Lake to North Glacier Pass. There is even an option to make an easy scramble up to Mt. Davis from the pass. The views from this pass are amazing and feature CLOSE UP views of Banner Peak, Lake Catherine and most of the southwest Yosemite backcountry. A portion of this route up to the pass is featured in Steve Ropers Sierra High Route, so it must be worth the hike! Secor rates the hike up to North Glacier Pass as Class II, which only includes the easy scramble toward the top. Once at the top the route to Mt. Davis is Class I (which is the same as trail walking).

Side trip from the JMT to North Glacier Pass via Thousand Island Lake. 

Elevation Profile: 3.11 miles & 1,100 feet of elevation gain. Worth every step!



The second side trip is from the JMT at the Shadow Creek Junction up to Ediza Lake, Iceberg Lake and Cecile Lake. These three lakes are fed by the snowfields directly along the north side of the Minarets. Once past Iceberg Lake you will find solitude and up close views of Clyde Minaret from Cecile Lake. Clyde Minaret is named after Norman Clyde, one of the pioneering explorers of the High Sierra. The body of Walter Starr, another famous Sierra pioneer, was discovered by Norman Clyde (nearby on the opposite side of the range) after he fell while climbing one of the Minarets.

Side trip to Ediza Lake and Cecile Lake. For amazing UP CLOSE views of the Minarets it doesn't get much better. 
Elevation profile from the JMT to Cecile Lake. 3.3 miles and about 1,200 feet of elevation. 



The third side trip in the area leads from the JMT at the Johnston Meadow junction up to Minaret Lake. For those comfortable with a short section of cross country travel it is possible to make this into a loop from Cecile Lake (see the second side trip above), down to Minaret Lake and rejoin the JMT at Johnston Meadow. This loop skips the mostly unimpressive section of the JMT from Shadow Lake to Johnston Meadow. The section of cross country travel from Cecile Lake to Minaret Lake is hardly cross country as there is a well defined use trail along this short section. According to Secor it is rated as, "Class 2-3.This may be the most popular cross-country route in the High Sierra. . . a good use trail has formed over most of this route".

JMT to Minaret Lake, or use this as the second part of a loop from Cecile Lake back to the JMT at Johnston Meadow. 

Elevation profile: 5.6 miles and about 2,000 feet of elevation loss (or gain depending on the direction of travel).


A few photos from the area:


Minaret Lake.

The Minarets from the shore of Minaret Lake.


Ediza Lake (left), Iceberg Lake (the middle lake) and Cecile Lake (right). This photo was taken from the climb up to Clyde Minaret.


Cecile Lake as seen from Clyde Minaret.

Cecile Lake and Minaret Lake from Clyde Minaret.



14 comments:

  1. Great suggestions here. I'm likely to take the Minaret Lake loop for next year's JMT hike. Thanks for the idea!

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    Replies
    1. Right on Kent! It's good to get your feedback and I hope you have fun on the JMT next summer. Andy.

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  2. Cool blog you got here and thank you for the valuable information. This is truly a great read for me and definitely be back to read some more.

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right on! I'm glad you like it, maybe I'll see you on the trail:)

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  3. I like your post a lot! You should write some more on this!Great job coming with such terrific post!


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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many thanks Sarahlee! I really appreciate your feedback.

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  4. This is a five star contribution. Thanks Andy!

    -Griff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Griff. Have fun this summer!

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  5. This was REALLY helpful. A big thanks.

    I was looking around for some strong info on this side trip and you really delivered. I'm going with a friend in September and didn't want to put her in a situation where she might feel uncomfortable. While it sounds like the use trail between the lakes is in good shape I think a Class 3 might be pushing it a bit.

    Thanks again for this man. This is one of the times I really appreciate the internet. :)

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    Replies
    1. I am glad this was helpful. I hope you had a great trip!

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  6. Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.


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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback Sarah Lee. I hope you have a great time on the JMT.

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