*Originally hiked: July 13, 2019
Ruby Lake lies in the Rock Creek Lake Basin, a very popular fly fishing and hiking destination. We opted to backpack the area and see how far we can get up to Mono Pass or past it. It was a big snow year and with being a little out of shape for the mountains as well we only ended up going to Ruby Lake, but what a good little destination for a short backpacking trip and some fishing and swimming.
There are very few trips that I remember where I had such a hard time moving up the mountain. This trip was somewhat of a wake up call for a few reasons that I want to share with you all because I’m sure some of you will relate.
- We ended up staying up till 11:00pm and for this reason had a rough time waking up at the allotted 4:00am wake up call we wanted to wake up at. Note to self: Go to bed early it’s a mountain you want to climb.
- I haven’t been training at home like I used to when I didn’t feel as much pain as on this hike going up and breathing difficulty. Note to self: Get back in the gym and go do my cardio as well, so that this will never happen again.
- We had a massive headache most of the time we were up there, we took some Advil and rested, which in turn helped. I honestly believe we weren’t drinking enough water and hadn’t gone into elevation in a while. Note to self: Drink more water and hike locally in elevation.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty of the hike’s specifics in case you feel like a simple backpacking trip like we did. Of course there’s other options in the area that you can go explore!
What’s in this Guide?
I have put together a lot of information on this hike, so if you want to skip ahead here are some of the sections I will be covering. Enjoy the adventure!
- Backpacking Mosquito Flats Trailhead to Ruby Lake Stats – Mileage, elevation gain, map of hike, weather.
- How Do I Get Permits for This Hike? – just a quick write up of how to obtain overnight permits for Ruby Lake hike.
- Directions to the Mosquito Flats Trailhead – not so hard directions to get here.
- About Rock Creeks Lake Resort & Area – I put together some interesting stuff for you to read about the resort and the area (so many lakes).
- What to Wear and Take – Just a rough list of some items that you should definitely take with you.
- My Blabbering – This is the part that has the photos and my experiences. Oh and a new edition is my video blog of the hike, scroll down if you’d like to watch it!
Backpacking Mosquito Flats Trailhead to Ruby Lake Stats
|5.23||899 feet||John Muir Wilderness||Out-and-back||Moderate/Easy|
map of hike
Best time of year to go here is Summer and early Fall unless you are ok with the snow. The weather below is an elevation that is lower than Ruby Lake or anything higher is. Make note when using the link below that Ruby Lake sits at 10,389 feet.
Rock Creek Lake – 9,813 feet
How Do I Get Permits for this Hike?
There’s a couple of ways to obtain permits for the hike. One way is to go onto recreation.gov up to 6 months in advance and reserve permits for Mono Pass. Day use does not require a permit. The other way is to go to a permit office and pick up an overnight permit. The locations of permit offices for the Eastern Sierras are: Permit Issuing Stations. *Note: for this entry the closest permit station is White Mountain Ranger Station.
- Go to RECREATION.gov
- Click on Inyo National Forest – Wilderness Permits after searching for it
- Click on Explore available permits
- Under Detailed Availability, click No unless you are a commercial guided trip.
- Pick the date you would like to go and the group size.
- Under Filters in the Search you can enter the Trail which is Mono Pass and click Show Results.
- Scroll down to Mono Pass under the Sites and see if the date is available.
- If it is click on the entry date of choice and click Book Now.
- Follow the rest of the steps to book the overnight trip.
If you have any questions on this process, please go ahead and contact me.
Directions to Get to Mosquito Flats Trailhead
Since the closest permit pick up station is White Mountain Ranger Station Visitor Center, I put together a quick google map directions from there to the Little Lakes Valley Trailhead.
About Rock Creek Lakes Resort & Area
Rock Creek Lakes Resort is just by the trailhead to Ruby Lake and the entire Little Lakes Valley. The owners (King family) of the resort have been around for about 40 years since1979. Something to note is that they have a great store if you forgot anything before your trip. The resort also has a grill that serves breakfast and lunch if that’s what you desire. If you would like accommodations and do this as a day hike; they have several cabins. The resort offers boat rentals and also has shower facilities.
There are a few trailheads in the area that can take you to several lakes and passes in the area.
- Hilton Lakes Trailhead – This trailhead is located below the Rock Creek Pack Station and is a very popular pack trip. It is about a 6 mile hike to the first lake.
- Mosquito Flats Trailhead – The trailhead is at the end of Rock Creek road. I would say it is the most well known of the canyon, so get there early if you want parking. The trail takes you a couple ways. Little Lakes Valley is a easy hike and most popular for families and fly fishers because of this. This is the way to Mono Pass and you can hit Ruby Lake along the way.
- Tamarack Lakes Trailhead – The trailhead is located on the eastern side of the Rock Creek Lake. From what I hear this trail sees less people than the others. There are a few lakes that are reachable from this trail and a possible summit of Mount Morgan.
If you arrive at night, the best place to stay for the night is in Mosquito Flats; anyone who has an overnight permit can walk into the campsites here and stay the night before they leave.
I have a longer list of items that are usually packed on my trips on my “What’s in My Backpack?” page. Check those out if you have a moment. The list under here were items I was especially happy I took with me.
- Mosquito Repellent – Ben’s 100% DEET Mosquito Repellent
- Hat – Taking it Easy Retro Trucker Cap this hat is pretty awesome, my sister and I designed it and if anything take a look at help us out by buying one and sharing it around.
- Water Filter – LifeStraw Gravity Filter
- Sleeping Pad – VENTURE4th Ultralight Sleeping Pad + Thermarest Zlite Pad – the perfect combination
- Water Shoes
- Spice Holder – GSI Outdoors Spice Missile
- Soup – NongShim Shin Black Noodle Soup
Backpacking doesn’t always have to be hardcore. We were planning to do a lot more but because of not feeling 100% and being more out of it a light backpacking trip and fish and swim and relax.
It was Friday night when we got out of LA to get closer to the trailhead. The night before heading out we stayed at Brown’s Town in Bishop, California. After paying for our campsite, it was dinner time. We ate a taco each and shared a taco salad; I must say the salsa at La Casita Mexican Restaurant was very very good. Back at camp, we were able to take nice hot showers and fall asleep in the back of my Subaru.
I’m not sure if I’ve told anyone yet on here, but I bought a Subaru in December. One of the main reasons I bought a Subaru was to be able to sleep in the back of my car if I needed to. The platform we built gave us a nice bed to where we could fit a good amount under the bed in boxes. One of these days I’ll get to it and write an article about how we put the removable bed together.
getting up late
One of the reason why we drove up Friday night was to get a head start and begin our hike earlier. Being that we finally went to bed after showering around 11:00pm, we didn’t have the strength to wake up until about 6:30am. Jumped out of bed and into the front to head straight to the trailhead which was still about an hour away.
There were a dozen cars already when we got to the trailhead with people getting ready either to fly fish, hike or backpack into the backcountry. The entire parking lot filled up while we packed and got ready. 9:45am hit when we finally got started. Note to self – we really need to just pack the night before so that when we get to the trailhead we can just jet!
getting a slow start
Altitude was giving us issues being that the trailhead sits above 10,000 feet. Let’s just say there were lots of breaks for water and catching our breaths. At some point I remembered that we hadn’t eaten breakfast (never doing that again before a hike), therefor about a mile in when we were offered a view of the Little Lakes Valley we took a break and ate our To-Go Wraps we made at the cars.
Continuing on, we kept taking breaks, but there was an excuse because we had more and more views of the lakes in the valley and the mountains ahead. There’s a few switchbacks after mile 1 and then it is a gradual climb up to Ruby Lake. Just before hitting Ruby Lake there is a gorgeous meadow with the creek dropping out of the lake. Instead of heading up to Mono Pass we decided to truck on to Ruby Lake and take a break after setting up camp.
deciding to stay at Ruby Lake
After a nap under the fort we made (just a tarp above us), we decided we both weren’t feeling so well and ended up just staying near the lake. We found a good spot within the trees as the sun was out full force.
If you don’t already know, our #1 rule is to jump into a body of water that we hike to. We packed up some fishing stuff and changed into our bikinis. We fished for over 3 hours and both only caught 1 fish each. During that time we did take a break and jump into the water and oh how it feel so good, but it was extremely cold (one of the coldest). It hurt to stay in the water too long, but it was nice to jump in a couple times and feel like we took a shower.
dinner in the tent
It was amusing how tired we were and not hungry enough to have an entire meal. We went back up to camp and set up our tents and beds, so that when it did get dark we could just crawl into bed. It was about 7:30pm and we decided to make some dinner, which was a Spicy Ramen that we both like so much.
After heating the ramen on the Jetboil, we nestled into our sleeping bags in the tent. I’ve noticed that a lot of the time we bring elaborate dinners, but all we end up having is a nice soup either ramen or miso. I’ll have to keep that in mind to bring that as a substitute for dinners.
fresh morning coffee and breakfast
I love mornings out in the mountains, mainly because your biggest task is just to get up and make yourself some coffee and breakfast. The only problem is that it was already Sunday, which means we’d have to pack up everything and head back home.
We packed some cooked eggs and some turkey meat that we sliced and made into an omelette throwing some mozzarella cheese on top. I’ll have to add this to my trail food recipes as if you are doing only one night, fresh is better!
possibly making a wrong decision
After breakfast, we headed back down to fish some more. We didn’t realize the time, but it was almost 3:00pm when we finally headed back up to camp to pack up. It’s a very late start being that we were over 5 hours from home and about an hour or two from the trailhead.
We got back to the car around 5:00pm and headed back into Bishop for some food at the best place to get a burger: Burger Barn. After talking it over, we agreed to drive as far as we can tonight and finish the rest of the drive tomorrow. I think we left Burger Barn around 6:00pm and around 9:00pm after driving a couple hours, we hit a tiny place in Olancha, probably one of the last places we could stay at a hotel.
I say possibly making a wrong decision because we shouldn’t have stayed that long out in the mountains and headed out earlier to be able to make it home. We were just too tired to keep driving through the night and I’m glad we made the decision to stay in Olancha, but honestly wasn’t the cheapest way to go! Safer, YES!
Woke up around 3:30am the next morning, headed home, took showers and went to work. Monday was rough, but hey as long as we had a good weekend, it’s worth it!
Hope you guys enjoyed the write up. If you have any questions about this hike or the area, please contact me.
Annette, Adventurer – Beyond Limits on Foot
Here are some other great links to check out on the hike to read further:
- Modern Hiker: Ruby Lake in the Sierra Nevada
- The Outbound: Backpack to Ruby Lake, Little Lakes Valley Trail
- RootsRated: Mosquito Flat Trailhead – Backpacking
- Annes Travels: Mono Pass from Mosquito Flats
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