Rock Creek Canyon offers a variety of hiking trails for people of all levels. From easy dayhikes through Little Lakes Valley to strenuous backpacking trips over Mono Pass, Rock Creek offers it all! Three trailheads are present in the canyon leading to some of the High Sierra's most popular and picturesque country, including Little Lakes Valley, the Mono Creek Recesses, Pioneer Basin, the Hilton Lakes, Tamarack Lakes, and more! Trail quotas are in effect for most trails in the Eastern Sierra. For information about quotas, permits, and other useful suggestions from Inyo National Forest, visit their website.
Rock Creek Trailheads
1. Mosquito Flat is the end of the road in Rock Creek at an elevation of 10,300 feet and is the trailhead for the two most popular hikes in the area. Little Lakes Valley is possibly THE most popular hike in the Eastern Sierra aside from Mt. Whitney. The trail is easy and passes numerous alpine lakes, meadows, and streams. The entire hike is spectacular and the lakes are filled with trout...mostly small brook trout, but there are some monster browns in most of the lakes. Mono Pass, another popular hike, branches from the Little Lakes Valley trail about 1/4 mile from the trailhead, leading to popular areas on the Sierra's west side, including the Mono Creek recesses, Pioneer Basin, and the John Muir Trail. The pass tops out at an elevation of 12,000 feet, and the hike is much more difficult than Little Lakes Valley. Click HERE to go on a virtual hike of Little Lakes Valley!
2. The Hilton Lakes/Davis Lake Trailhead is located less than 1/4 mile below the Rock Creek Pack Station, and the lakes are very popular with the pack station. Several pack trips enter the Hilton Lakes each week, most going to the lower Hilton Lakes (Davis Lake and Hilton #2). Backpackers and hikers wanting to avoid pack animal "residue" may want to avoid this hike, although the lakes themselves are beautiful and the upper Hilton Lakes are more secluded. Fishing is excellent in these lakes as well. The trail is very dry and dusty most of the summer and mosquitoes can be a problem at the lakes so be prepared.
Hilton #4 - photo by Paul Roark
3. The Tamarack Trailhead is located on road that winds around Rock Creek Lake's eastern shore. This hike is the least popular, yet it travels through some beautiful country nonetheless. The trail itself is dry and dusty, even sandy in spots, and travels through meadows, across small creeks, and along the shore of Kenneth Lake. Other lakes are also accessible from this trail, including Dorothy Lake, Francis Lake, and the Tamarack Lakes.
Check out this topo map of the Rock Creek area. It should give you a better idea of how the canyon is laid out. Click it to see a larger format of the map.