Rock Creek Canyon offers a wide variety of hiking for all ages and ability levels, ranging from shaded mellow walks along the creek, to twelve thousand foot mountain passes with sweeping views of the thirteen thousand foot plus granite peaks that ring our valley. Some of our favorite hikes are:
Mosquito Flats Trailhead and the Little Lakes Valley
5 miles to Morgan Pass – 1600 ft. elevation gain
4 miles to Mono Pass – 2000 ft. elevation gain
Hiking in the Little Lakes Valley is a classic Sierra experience. 13,000 foot granite peaks surround the glacially-carved canyon. Although the trailhead is just over 10,000 ft., the hiking is relatively easy, climbing 600 vertical feet in about 3 miles to long lake. The most strenuous section is the 1st hill about a 1/4 mile from the trailhead, and each lake is about 20 to 30 minutes of hiking apart. Each lake is beautiful and unique, as suggested by their names: Mack Lake, Marsh Lake, Heart Lake, Box Lake, Long Lake, Gem Lake and Chickenfoot Lake. Hiking to Morgan pass, the trail steepens beyond Long Lake, climbing to Gem Lake, a very beautiful granite cirque. Passing Gem Lake, a trail leading to Chickenfoot Lake leads off to the north. Then you climb the switchbacks to Morgan Pass, revealing a sweeping vista of our gorgous valley.
Ruby lake is the crown jewel of Little Lakes Valley. The 800 vertical feet of switchbacks weeds out all but the bravest hikers, the vision of towering granite walls surrounding the emerald waters of Ruby Lake pays off tenfold. Hiking pass Ruby Lake, up another 1000 vertical feet of switchbacks, puts you on top of the 12,000 ft. Mono Pass, where the air seem cool and crisp and the only sound is the wind slipping around the peaks around you. Finding yourself above the tree line opens the view across the Little Lakes Valley and down towards Summit Lake and back into Pioneer Basin and the Mono Recesses.
The Pond Loop
This trail begins from the lodge and follows the west side of the creek, meandering through meadows and a lodge pole forest. Wooden foot bridges keep your feet dry across creeks and boggy areas, leading to a widening in the creek that we call the pond. A bridge crosses the inlet and the trail loops around the southern shore. The pond loop trail on the east side of the creek leads through marshy meadows into more lodge pole forest with wildflowers and along the lower corral, returning you to the lodge.
Rock Creek Lodge to Rock Creek Lake
2 miles round trip – 300 ft. elevation gain
This quiet hike leaves the lodge and meanders beside Rock Creek, through meadows and a lodge pole forest. There is excellent fishing along this stretch and also at the pond, about 3/4 mile from the lodge. Behind the inlet of the pond the trail climbs alongside the creek as it cascades for a couple hundred feet. The trail levels out again, following the tail water of Rock Creek Lake where you may find great fishing. Just a little further is Rock Creek Lake. You may fish the lake, or visit Rock Creek Lakes Resort, making sure you bring your wallet so you can buy a slice of their famous pie.
Hilton Lakes Trail
10 miles round trip – 1000 ft. elevation gain
The trail starts just across the road from The Lodge, winding up through a juniper grove onto the Hilton Bench. The Hilton Bench is one of the first trails to dry up aft.er winter – it gets a lot of sun. Bring sunscreen and water, in high summer it may be very hot. There are over half a dozen lakes, the largest being scenic Davis Lake, with good swimming in Davis #2 and Davis #3. The fishing in the larger lower lakes, Hilton #1 and Davis Lakes is exciting and if you happen to catch the spawn you will have never had it so good.
Tamarack Bench and Tamarak Lake
10 miles round trip – 1000 ft. elevation gain for the bench 2000 ft. to the lake
The Tamarack Lake trail begins at either Rock Creek Lodge or you can save a couple hundred vertical feet by driving up to the trailhead parking at Rock Creek Lake. Ask one of our employees how to find this trail before you go, it can be tricky to find. This is the best trail for solitude in the canyon. The trail passes Kenneth and Dorothy lakes. Keep your eyes open for tree carvings in lodge pole pines left by the shepherds years ago. The trail winds under Mount Morgan and climbs into the granite basin of Tamarack Lake, where you may catch a glimpse of the big horn sheep.