Peanut Lake via Meysan Lakes Trail – Inyo National Forest

Where: Inyo National Forest
Mileage: 11.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Elevation gain: 3000 feet
Type: Out-and-back


Permits: To hike Meysan Lakes overnight you can either walk-up and get a permit at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine for free or reserve ahead of time on for $5.00 per person in addition to a $6.00 “reservation fee”. I recommend getting it in advance unless you are willing to chance it.

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To get to the trailhead: From 395 in Lone Pine, turn west on Whitney Portal Rd. There is no parking lot for Meysan Lakes; there are signs that say “Meysan Lakes Trailhead” on the side of the road next to Whitney Campground. You can park at any turnout; when receiving the permits they will issue an overnight parking pass as well. Make sure you display the parking pass in your front window.

I’ve done Meysan Lakes before, but the lakes were never visible as I hiked it in January right after a storm. While I did the hike I had to turnaround 1/2 a mile from Meysan Lake as a storm blew in. I was excited to come back on a less stormy weekend. We got up at 3:30am in the morning to drive up to the visitor center to pick up our permits for our overnight trip.

We arrived in Lone Pine around 7:15am and had to wait around till 8:00am as that is when the visitor center opened up. After some coffee we picked up some water to put in our bladders. Unfortunately once the visitor center opened up we had to stand in the same line as those waiting to receive their Mt. Whitney Permits (this takes much longer because of the pre-cautions the Ranger needs to explain, etc.)

We received our permits and parking passes as 9:15am rolled around. We drove up to Whitney Portal Parking area, which is where we were told to park because of construction on Whitney Portal Rd. This added a couple miles to our trek up to Meysan Lakes. There are large sized bear boxes for you to store any food and scented items you will not be taking on your hike. Be sure to not leave these in your car as bears are very active in this area!

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To get to the actual “Meysan Lakes” trailhead you’ll have to walk through the Whitney Campground on the paved area and go towards the back of the campground where there are summer homes located. There are clearly marked signs that are easy to follow where the trail is. As soon as we stepped onto the dirt portion of the trail the up and up and up did not stop.

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Luckily the first mile or so was in a shaded area, but through the ascent the less the trees. The trail is mostly exposed so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water especially in summer months. 3.5 miles into the ascent we headed into a leveled area of the trail with some shade perfect for a break. This was a nice rest-stop before a not so fun part of the trail.

Soon after the leveled area the trail became tougher to climb as it was steep and sandy. After a few switchbacks we finally hit an area that is just as steep, but a rocky terrain making it a little simpler to ascend. The views at this point were vast of the valley below and the mountains above. We decided when we got close to Peanut Lake we would take a look and see if we can find a place to set up camp. Peanut Lake is a good 2 minute walk off trail and offers shaded camping in areas around the lake.

We weren’t the only ones around when we arrived, but it sure felt like it as soon as we found our small campsite with views of the peaks above Grass and Peanut Lakes. We never actually went up to Grass Lake and instead fished and relaxed in a spot on a larger rock overlooking Peanut Lake. It was a perfect crisp afternoon with a deer spotting and especially topping it off by catching a few fish and two rather larger ones that would be perfect for the stew we were going to cook; now that stew was amazing. We used our new GSI Outdoors Ultralight 1.8L pot from the GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Ultralight Cookset we bought.

That night we laid out on the rocks and relaxed under the stars, but not for long because we were exhausted from the early morning wake up call. During the night it was a bit windy, but still slept amazing. The sun awoke us before 7:00am and we decided to cook our breakfast that was leftovers of eggs, turkey bacon and asparagus. We found an open space on the rocks where the sun lay upon us keeping us warm. At some point we realized we had to head back to reality and started packing up and left the camp at 10:00am. Of course the way down was all downhill and we made it back to the car around 12:30pm.

Before arriving to the car on the last part of the trail we had to cross a creek to get to our vehicle. We found a perfect swimming hold to take a quick dip and clean off before heading on our drive back. Soooooo cold, but the best idea ever as it felt terrific.

Note to self: Make sure to plan more overnight trips even if it’s a one night out in the wilderness.

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