photo of Hilton Lakes, John Muir Wilderness, CA

  Hilton Lakes

  John Muir Wilderness

Third Hilton Lake

Hilton 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. Tom Harrison's Mono Divide High Country map includes all of the important parts of the Hilton Lakes area, only cutting off the lower half of Davis Lake.


Rock Creek Pack Station

Rock Creek Pack Station can pack you and your gear into a campsite at one of the Hilton Lakes. If you prefer they will pack your gear to your campsite while you hike in on the trail.

Wilderness Permits

A Wilderness Permit is required for each party camping overnight in the John Muir Wilderness. Since the Hilton Creek Lakes trailhead is in the Inyo National Forest, obtain your permit from them. There are daily quotas for the number of people who may enter at a particular trailhead for overnight camping, so obtaining a wilderness permit reservation is recommended. The trail to Hilton Lakes is allows 15 people per day. Nine of those slots may be reserved ahead of time. The other 6 are set aside as walk-up permits, available after 11 AM the day before your departure.

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, which also handles most national forest campground reservations. 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 on day of departure (or call 1-2 weeks early to arrange late pick up):

  • 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 may be able to arrange to pick up your permit after hours.

Backcountry Regulations for the Hilton Lakes

Bear canisters are not required at Hilton Lakes but food must kept in a bear-proof manner, e.g. counter-balance method.
Campfires are not permitted in the Hilton and Davis lakes area.