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Parker Lake

Ansel Adams Wilderness

June 19th, 2004

3.8 miles
620 vertical feet
Total Time: 3:41

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Highway 395, take the northern turnoff for June Lake Loop (Highway 158). Turn right onto the dirt road for Parker Lake. At the signed intersection, take the left fork (which is really straight ahead) toward Parker Lake (the right fork takes you to Walker Lake). Don't be alarmed by side roads -- ignore them. Stay on the main road, finally taking the left fork at the next signed intersection (where the right fork takes you to Parker Creek).   View Driving Map

There's a nice view of Mono Lake just from the parking lot of this hike. The lot was nearly full of about a dozen cars when we arrived, albeit late. We ended up not starting the hike until about 12:30pm, but we weren't the last one. Another car pulled up just after us. A man who we later learned was named Jim, from southern California, popped out and noted that he wasn't the only one getting a late start. Interestingly, he said that although he had hiked in the Eastern Sierra for about 30 years, he usually did the same hike over and over and this was his first time to Parker Lake. I'm the complete opposite -- I try to never do the same hike twice, with a few rare exceptions (like Mt. Tallac).

Mono Lake from the trailhead

We started out on the trail under sunny skies. We started climbing immediately -- in fact, even the parking lot is sloped upwards! We climbed past low brush with Mono Lake behind us. As we got higher, we started to see few scattered conifers. We climbed for about 400 feet before the trail levels off a bit.

Mountains behind Parker Lake

We could hear the sound of rushing water in Parker Creek below us to the right for most of the trail. It is out of sight at the start, but the trail gets closer to the creek later on. In fact, there are several short spur trails to the creek. So if it's hot and you can't wait until you reach the lake, you can dip your toes in the creek.

Parker Creek

As the trail leveled off, we hiked through a mix of Jeffrey pine and aspen trees. There were several large stands of aspen trees -- this must be a beautiful hike in the fall, when the leaves turn color. In the summer, it's a bit warm and there's not much in the way of shade. There was an occasional welcome breeze.

Parker Lake

After about two miles, we reached the lake. Parker Lake (elevation 8350) has a large wall on the south shore, and snow-covered mountains rising above the western shore. The lake shore is mostly lined by a conifer forest. It's a pretty lake, but large enough that it's not really intimate. Not something you can walk around in 5 minutes.

Parker Lake

We carefully crossed the creek and settled in a spot in the forest near the water to have lunch. Near us were several tents. This would make a nice easy overnight trip. Many of the people at the lake today brought their fishing rods, as well. We just enjoyed the views, the forest, and the lake. After we ate, I took a few photographs. As I did so, the sun played hide and seek with clouds.

Forest next to Parker Lake

Heading back to the trailhead

After a long break (almost an hour and a half), we headed back onto the trail to return the way we came. Not much appeared different, other than the fact that on the return trip we enjoyed the great views of Mono Lake that were at our back before. As we neared the end of the hike, the clouds began to take over, and the breezes picked up. Just as we reached our car, it started to sprinkle. Always a good idea to beat the threat of afternoon thunderstorms.

Mono Craters

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