Hiking Parker Lake, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra, California

It’s been a number of years since I started visiting the Eastern Sierra.  Sometimes it feels like I am stuck in the movie Groundhog Day and living the same day over, and over, and over again (hello ski season during the last drought).  Other times I am overwhelmed with how much I haven’t seen.  

The week following Memorial Day, Russia / Costa Rica / Iceland Mo and I spent five days exploring the Mammoth area.  One one of those days we hiked to Parker Lake.

Parker Lake Trailhead sign

Parker Lake is on the June Lake Loop.  The dirt path leading to the trailhead is off of Grant Lake.  The June Lake Loop is a road you can take that goes around June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake.  If you started the loop at June Lake, the turn off for Parker Lake is at the end of Grant Lake right before you hit Highway 395.  If you want to skip the June Lake Loop, you can catch the end of it on Highway 395 and drive into the dirt road for the Parker Lake trailhead.

Parker Lake was not on my radar and the reason we hiked it was because enough snow had melted that the trail was accessible and in good shape.  A ranger at the welcome center in Mammoth recommended it and I was glad she did.  It was a record snowfall this year and I didn’t realize how many hikes were still snowed in until this trip.  Mammoth Mountain (the ski hill) has said it will stay open for skiing until August if that helps to paint a picture.  Devils Postpile is hoping to open mid-July but still reports over 20 feet on the road.  Bottom line, California had a great snow year and I wasn’t thinking about that when this “hiking” trip was planned.  Lucky for us, we had Parker Lake.

My very old (1969) The Mammoth Lakes Sierra (Genny Schumacher) states the hike to Parker lakes is an “Intermediate Hike, 2 miles”.  I guess that is true.  My heart did get pumping during the first part of the hike, but then I got into a rhythm and it was a nice hike.  The trail was easy to follow and well maintained.  The first part of the hike is exposed (no tree cover) but then you come to some aspen groves for shade at different parts of the hike.  Starting out you are above Parker Creek and eventually the trail finds the creek and you finish the hike walking next to it to Parker Lake.

Parker Lake is another beautiful lake in the Eastern Sierra.  I don’t think they will ever stop taking my breath away. The U-shaped glacier carved valley makes a spectacular backdrops to the melted snow lake.  

 We did this hike on Memorial Day and there were a lot of hikers and even about four tents at the lake.  The day was sunny but not hot.  When we stopped at the lake for a snack and break, it was a little chilly in the shade.  As of the writing of this, the Parker Lake trail is dog friendly!

The hike back had a beautiful view of Mono Lake in the background.  

After the hike Mo and I drove the June Lake Loop back to June Lake.  Mo didn’t remember doing it before and it is a beautiful drive.  The area is technically called the “June Lake Basin” and in addition to the four lakes accessible by car on the June Lake Loop, there are numerous other lakes (like Parker Lake) you can get to by hiking.  I have hiked to Fern Lake before and was excited to see so many other lakes to hike in this area.

We ended the day at the June Lake Brewery and Mo took this funny photo with our beer and one of my water bottles.  Stay hydrated up there!  With water, not beer…..

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