Meysan Lakes Trail – Inyo National Forest

Where: Inyo National Forest
Mileage: 9.2 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 3323 feet
Recommended: lunch for day trip, lots of water


To get to the trailhead: From Highway 395 in Lone Pine, CA head west on Whitney Portal Road. Trailhead parking is about 12 miles from Lone Pine. The campground was closes, so I just pared on the south side of Whitney Portal Road near the trailhead.

Meysen Lakes 01

The plan was actually to go to Cottonwood Lakes. Driving up the road it got a bit icier and I decided to turn around and go find another hike to do. Once I had reception back, I got a hold of my sister and she had mentioned that some of the trails in the Whitney Portal area that don’t need permits. If you would stay overnight then you would need permits.

Meysan Lakes Trail was my choice and fortunately the trail was on my Tom Harrison map. I packed 2 liters of water, a waterproof jacket, snow pants, thermal pants, a beanie, gloves, extra pants, some food, hot chocolate packet, jetboil and an extra jacket. One item that I still haven’t purchased are hiking poles- this hike convinced me to buy some soon after.

The trailhead is about a quarter of a mile from the road. Whitney Portal Campground was closed, so I had to traverse through the Campground to find the trailhead. I passed some homes along the way until I hit the actual trailhead slipping a few times along the paved road as it was icy and slippery. I arrived to the start of the trailhead to find the sign covered with snow other than the letter M. I cleared off the snow and there it was written “Meysan Lakes Trail”.

I began the immediate descent from 8080 feet around 1030 in the morning. There was a bit of snow on the ground, enough for me to lose the trail a certain number of times. GPS once again you are a savior by helping me retrace my steps to the trail. This was when I decided my next gear buy would be hiking poles.

With the sprawling views of a sunny Owens Valley beneath me, I could hear Meysan Creek roaring in the distance. The sun peered out through the clouds a handful of times, but it was becoming more cloudy and dark as I continued forward on the most challenging part of the trail. Traversing uphill on a fine loose talus slope – this area would be the best to have hiking poles especially since it was becoming difficult with about 6-12 inches of snow in some spots.

At this point I was about 5 miles up the trail and had missed Grass Lake or so I thought. I could not see Grass Lake and it the snow began to drizzle on me as the sky darkened. 10,975  feet with no lakes in sight, I decided to take a short break and warm up. Found a bit of dry ground next to a tree and brewed up a quick hot chocolate on my jetboil. I continued on for about .2 miles and finally found a sign as the trail leveled off that showed Meysan Lake is only .6 miles further up the trail.

Before moving forward I remembered I had read that the trail to Meysan Lake from here was hard to find. And well since it was snowing obviously it would be even more difficult. It was getting windy, cold and light snow was upon the mountain around 1400. I hadn’t seen a soul since I started the trail only a pair of deer tracks, footsteps for someone who had hit the trail before me. I decided to not take my chances got back down to my car in a couple hours. Till next time possibly without a snowstorm Meysan Lakes!

Something interesting: I was right next to Grass Lake when I decided to turn around. I’ll have to come back to see these lakes. Trip planned for October 2015.

Note to self: Go research hiking poles!

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