I’m sure many of you can relate to my absolute awe and fascination with the Eastern Sierra. I am always seeking new areas to explore and when someone recommended Iceberg Lake, I knew it was a hike I wanted to tackle before winter arrives. This incredible hike navigates around a series of lakes: Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake before finally reaching Iceberg Lake.
The trailhead is located at Agnew Meadows Campground, reachable from Red Meadows Road in Mammoth Lakes. We arrived to the trailhead on a brisk Saturday morning at 7 A.M. to a half full parking lot. We prepared for our day hike and headed out on the trail. The first couple of miles are fairly mellow, winding along the canyon with a gradual climb before reaching a beautiful waterfall, followed by Shadow Lake, at approximately 2.5 miles in. After spending some time admiring Shadow Lake, we continued on for the next 3.5 miles heading towards Ediza Lake.
I was excited to experience Ediza Lake in particular, mainly as a result of hearing that John Muir declared Ediza Lake the most beautiful of all alpine lakes in the High Sierra. This sparked my curiosity. The lake is as visually appealing as any alpine lake can be, with Mount Ritter and Banner Peak providing an incredible backdrop that would make any outdoor lover’s jaw drop.
The trail continues along Ediza Lake before beginning the approximate 500 foot elevation gain over the 1.5 mile trek from Ediza to Iceberg Lake. My excitement climaxed upon reaching Iceberg Lake, unexpectedly becoming the highlight of the day. I immediately noticed the lake had already began freezing, and the turquoise ascents of the lake were aggrandized by the abundance of sunshine. I’ve always loved the Minarets, some of my favorite peaks in the High Sierra, and the minarets tower over the lake in dramatic fashion.
We decided to rest for awhile, admiring the beauty of the lake and the chilly temperatures. I spent some time exploring different view points of the lake, each becoming more impressive.
After a nice break, we began our trek back to the trailhead. One of my favorite aspects of the Eastern Sierra is the ever-changing aesthetic these mountains provide. On this day the clouds began to hover over the peaks in the afternoon, shadows from the clouds creeping over the landscape. It’s hard to not want to stop every 5 minutes to admire the views.
Our day hike to Iceberg Lake finished at 15.5 miles round trip, taking 6 hours 45 minutes to complete. As of September 18, 2023, Red Meadows Road is closed Monday-Friday due to construction, open on weekends until the first major snowfall of the season forces the seasonal road closure.
If you are unable to complete this hike prior to the snowfall, I highly recommend considering including this hike on your summer bucket-list for next season as you will not be disappointed. A classic High Sierra trek!