Chain Lakes Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Hard
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
6-8.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
23.0 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
742 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Be the first to add a review!
Directions to Trailhead

Immerse yourself in the High Sierra as you venture the Chain Lakes Trail. This awesome adventure, though taxing, boasts breathtaking scenery of snow-capped Sierra Nevada summits that bound the crystalline waters of the alpine lakes. If you are seeking a rewarding trek, then this hike is it!

Guide-book quality info for over 8,000 trails

View Chain Lakes Trail on Map

View Map

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

Route Description for Chain Lakes Trail

The Chain Lakes Trail is an awesome hike that rewarded conquerors with incomparable views of the high country. Wander through granite gardens, mixed pine forests, alpine tundras abundant with wildflowers, and several shimmering lakes. It is important to be mindful of altitude sickness when travelling to high elevations, so make sure you are properly acclimatized. Additionally, as much of the terrain is exposed, we suggest checking the forecast and heading out early to mitigate the chances of getting caught in an afternoon storm. Dress in layers, wear ankle-bracing footwear and pack plenty of water and snacks to stay fueled along this demanding trek. Note a wilderness permit is required if you want to camp, and a hiking permit is required for a day adventure.

Immerse yourself in the best of what the High Sierra has to offer along the Chain Lakes Trail. This scenic route travels to not one, not two, but several shimmering alpine lakes; what more could you ask for– Mountain views? Lush woodlands? Wildflowers? Well, the Chain Lakes Hike checks those boxes too. So let the fresh mountain air fill your lungs and get your blood pumping as you tackle this arduous trek! Reserved for intrepid adventurers, this hike warrants some stamina—but trust us, the scenery is well worth the sweat! Have we convinced you yet?

Embark on your journey along the Chain Lakes Hike from the Chiquito Trailhead. From here, follow the Chiquito Pass Trail northwest through a valley. Soon after departing from the trailhead, the path will intersect with Chiquito Creek as you gradually climb into the backcountry. As you hike, enjoy the sights of Quartz Mountain looming in the west. Continue hiking up the valley, and you will eventually reach Chiquito Lake. Marvel in the beauty of the glittering alpine lake and the bounding pines and granite outcrops. From here, you will also be granted panoramic vistas of the encompassing mountains that line the horizon. At this point, you will confront a junction, veer right here onto the Chain Lakes Trail, which will guide you into Yosemite National Park.

Now wandering through the Yosemite Wilderness, you will be redirected northeast, along the base of several unnamed peaks and over countless snowmelt streams. The terrain will become incredibly exposed as you climb, warranting impressive panoramas! Take your time and mind the elevation change, take breaks and stay hydrated. Eventually, the path will curve east, delivering you to the Chain Lakes. Hike along the shores of Lower and Middle Chain Lakes before reaching Upper Chain Lake, an alpine pool flanked by the craggy walls of Gale Peak. Revel in the grandeur of the looming Sierra Nevada Peak and the crystalline alpine lakes. After reveling in the views, retrace your footing along the path back to the trailhead.

Trail Highlights

Gale Peak

Gale Peak is an impressive summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range that sits at an elevation of 10,680 ft. Located in the southeastern corner of Yosemite National Park, this craggy granite peak flanks the Chain Lakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Chain Lakes Trail?

The Chain Lakes Trail is a 23.0 km out-and-back hike in the Sierra NF.

Are dogs permitted on the Chain Lakes Trail?

No, sadly dogs are not welcome on the Chain Lakes Trail.

Getting to the Chain Lakes Trail Trailhead

The Chain Lakes Trail is accessed via the Chiquito Trailhead off Route 5S04.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    Backcountry Camping, wilderness permit required.

  • When to do

    April-October

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Low

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Chain Lakes Trail Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

Check Area Weather

Chain Lakes Trail Reviews

Add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Nearby Trails

Nearby Regions

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

Tours

Routes

Blogs