photo of Fourth Lake, Big Pine Lakes, CA

  Big Pine Lakes

  John Muir Wilderness

Fourth Lake

Big Pine Lakes Backpacking Trip Resources

Books and Maps

Sierra South is the leading backpacking resource for backpacking in the southern Sierra. Reliable maps facilitate trip planning and are invaluable in the back country.


Packers and Guides

Glacier Pack Train (760-938-2538) is located very close to the trailhead. You can contact them to have your gear packed on mules into the wilderness and to arrange for saddle horses.

For mountaineering guides, take a look at the Sierra Mountain Center in Bishop.

Wilderness Permits

Wilderness Permits are required in the John Muir Wilderness. Since the Big Pine area of the wilderness is in the Inyo National Forest, obtain your permit from them. There are daily quotas for each trailhead, so obtaining a wilderness permit reservation is recommended.

The hike to Big Pine Lakes is via the Big Pine North Fork Trail, which allows 25 overnight hikers per day, 15 of which may be reserved ahead of time. The other 10 are set aside as walk-up permits, available after 11 AM the day before your departure. This is a popular trailhead in the summer and on weekends.

Permits can be reserved from 2 days up to 6 months prior to your departure. The permit reservation costs $5 per person in your party and $10 for a transaction fee. Wilderness permit reservations are now handled by Obtain your permit at their website: - Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permits.
Arrange to pick your permit at one of these locations, no later than 10 AM the day of your departure (or call 1-2 weeks ahead of time to arrange late pickup).

  • Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center, Hwy. 395, 2 miles south of Lone Pine, CA
  • Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center, 2500 Main St., Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • White Mountain Ranger Station, 798 N. Main St., Bishop, CA
  • Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, Hwy. 395, North of Lee Vining, CA

You can arrange to pick up your permit after hours.

Backcountry Regulations for Big Pine Lakes

  1. Bear canisters are not required in the Big Pine Lakes area, but they are recommended.
  2. Campfires are not permitted at Big Pine Lakes or the surrounding area.