Marsh Lake, Little Lakes Valley

Marsh Lake, Little Lakes Valley, Eastern Sierra

Behind the scenes of this photo

Taken at Marsh Lake in the Little Lakes Valley, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California on August 25th, 2007

One of my favorite places in the Sierra is the Little Lakes Valley. I’m not sure there’s another place you can go that gives you such a high reward-to-effort ratio. The trailhead is at 10,500 feet, and by the time you’ve reached the head of the valley you’ve only climbed a scant 700 feet. Most of the hiking is up and down over rolling hills. A mere 10 minutes after leaving the trailhead you will come to the first great view of this staggering place: Bear Creek spire and its attendant mountains spread out along the southern end of the valley. I’m not sure a more perfectly picturesque scene exists in all of the Sierra, and to reach this view after only a few minutes of hiking is mind-boggling.

But even though the good views begin almost immediately it’s worth hiking deeper into the Little Lakes Valley. About every half mile you’ll pass a little lake (gee, I wonder where the name of this place comes from): Box Lake, Heart Lake, Long Lake, the wonderfully-name Chickenfoot Lake. They’re spread out along the valley floor like a string of jewels. One of my favorite lakes in the whole chain is Marsh Lake, about a mile and a half in from the trail head. Ringed on all sides by a thick layer of reeds, Marsh Lake provides a stunning view of the mountains beyond. And thanks to its shallowness and clarity, the lake demonstrates a wonderful high country phenomenon: it focuses the rays of the sun into distinct lines that dance and shimmer on the lake’s bed.

View more beautiful Sierra Nevada photos.

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