Maggie Lakes

Photos by Joshua Courter

Photos by Joshua Courter

Maggie Lakes are a series of lakes just west of Maggie Mountain. The lower of the three lakes sits at 9,020 feet. This is a very common spot to camp for most visitors to the lakes. The middle lake is the smallest and the upper lake is the largest. Both require cross country travel, but are worth checking out. Rainbow trout and golden trout hybrids live within all of the lakes. Larger fish are located in the upper lake.

There are two maps to choose from. The description following the links to the maps below only apply to the first map. The “alternative” map is for those who wish to go the longer route (11 miles total one way) due to road closures, snow, or simply to do something different.

Download the map HERE

Download the “alternative” map HERE

The shortest route is starting at the Summit Trailhead (8,265 feet) at the end of Forest Service road 21S50 or “north road.” There is a small parking area and a place to temporarily tie up horses. The trail heads west and meets up with the wilderness sign at approximately 0.1 miles. Within about 15 minutes of going downhill the trail crosses South Mountaineer. A great place to fill up on water if you haven’t already as it is 1 of the 2 dependable water sources. At this point the trail climbs uphill and up to a great vista point. The climb is considered 1 of the 3 “uphill pulls” the trail makes.

The vista point, approximately 2.1 miles in, is unofficially known as the Alder Creek Vista point. The trail is located at the top of the Alder Creek drainage, which flows west into the Tule River. Great views of the San Joaquin Valley and the towering peaks of Coyote Ridge and Western Divide can been seen. The trail descends down to Jacobsen Meadow and then proceeds on a short uphill to Mowery Meadow, approximately 4.6 miles from the trailhead.

Mowery Meadow is a good “half way there” marker. If water is needed, head down into the meadow a ways to find enough to filter. If water cannot be found you’ll need to follow the Mountaineer Trail east a bit to find water. Otherwise wait until the trail gets into the Peck Canyon watershed approximately 3 miles ahead.

Once leaving Mowery Meadow, the trail begins to climb uphill. This is considered the the second uphill pull. The climb initially is steep, but does decrease in grade after about 10 minutes of hiking. The trail climbs by Alpine Meadow, Neva Point junction, upper portions of the Alpine Creek watershed. There is another unnamed meadow the trail follows along for a bit. Once passed the meadow, the trail makes a final uphill climb to a crest. This ends the second pull and the trail descends down into Griswold Meadow.

Griswold Meadow has a dispersed camping area and a small creek near the trail. The creek sometimes has water flowing. It is recommended you do not depend on it for a water source, especially in late summer or fall. The trail continues to trek downhill giving users a break from the uphill climbing along views of the old Maggie Fire in 2006. Once pass a couple riparian areas, the trail begins to climb uphill.

The uphill climb to the unofficial vista, named Pecks Canyon Vista point, is the third and final uphill pull. The trail has been re-routed a few times due to the Maggie Fire and down trees. The uphill climb will seem short, as there is a small section of the trail that goes downhill and level for a short distance. Crossing through another riparian/meadow area the trail climbs uphill once more.

At approximately 7.5 miles into the hike, the trail provides a great overlook of Pecks Canyon. The Pecks Canyon Vista point is approximately 300 feet down the trail from the top of the ridge (end of the third uphill climb). The trail travels through rocky terrain, so watch your footing. Approximately 0.5 miles downhill the trail will arrive at an unnamed creek or “Pecks Creek.” Here is the second source of water along the trail that flows all year long.

After refilling up water bottles and crossing the creek, a trail junction is encountered. Keep going west towards Maggie Lakes as the trail north goes to private property. The trail may fade slightly in areas, but look for stacked rocks or past use, i.e. foot prints, to find the trail. Hiking for another mile and you will arrive at the lower Maggie Lake. Dispersed camping is found throughout the area. If you are wanting to visit the other lakes, you will need to cross country to them. The middle lake, which is literally just on the other side of the lower lake takes about 5 minutes. The upper lake will take about 10 to 15 minutes. An easy way is to simply follow the stream on the west side of the lower lake uphill. The stream is actually the outlet from the upper lake.

81 Responses to Maggie Lakes

  1. William says:

    I have always wanted to go to Maggie Lks and climb Maggie Mtn

  2. Alyssa says:

    How do you get permits for Maggie Lakes? Having a hard time finding the info.

  3. Noel Raub says:

    We are planning to make a trip this weekend to Maggie Lakes. Do you know if water is currently available at Mowery or Jacobson Meadow? We plan on hiking in late afternoon friday to camp at the mowery meadow then continue to maggie lakes saturday morning. Its been a dry year so want to be sure there is enough water. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    We could wait and make the whole hike saturday but wanted to get started if possible

  4. Jeff says:

    Hi Noel, we are planning on heading up on August 8th and would like to know what you observe about the lakes and streams. Thanks!

  5. Brian says:

    Hey Noel, we’re going up August 8th as well and would also like to know about current conditions for water and fishing. I spoke to a ranger last week and she told me that the water sources en route are sketchy at best, but that was before the rain we had this past weekend so the lakes may be nice and full. Either way, we wold really like to know what you see up there. Thanks!

  6. Roger says:

    Just got back. Streams still running, but lake levels dropping. Beautiful and greener than expected. Still wild flowers in meadows.

  7. Todd says:

    We just got back from Maggie Lakes this past weekend (10/10-10/12 trip). There was still a decent amount of water flowing at the first stream (South Mountaineer Creek). Nothing was flowing in any other streams or out any of the lakes. The upper lake level had dropped about 5′, the middle lake about 1′, and the lower lake about 2′. Very dry, but still gorgeous. We did manage to find a single wildflower that wasn’t dead, but that was about it. Almost no signs of wildlife, except for squirrels and birds. We had great weather. Probably in the mid-60s during the day and low-40s at night. No dew in the mornings, which was nice.

    • Joshua says:

      Thanks for the update Todd. Your findings were posted on the main page for others to read about. If you have any public photos you would like to share feel free to do so. Otherwise thanks again for the update!

  8. Hi Josh, we are hiking tomorrow 6/27/15 from Summit trailhead to Maggie Lakes. Any idea how much water we might find along the trail? We have large (3 liter) camel backs so we probably can make it to the lakes without refilling but just curious. Thanks for any insight you can give.

    • Joshua says:

      Hi Elizabeth. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner as I was out backpacking myself. Last month a water report came in stating there was water at South Mountaineer Creek, unnamed creek a mile short of Maggie, and Maggie Lakes themselves. Mileage marker wise, think 0.5 miles, 8 miles, and 9 miles are the points of known water.

  9. Cody says:

    I just got back from an overnighter to Maggie Lakes. It was a beautiful hike and I would highly suggest it to anyone. Leave early though, the hike in is definitely more strenuous than the hike out. There was plenty of water in the first stream (maybe a mile and a half from trail head) then there wasn’t any water until the last stream (about a mile from the lake)…. The ranger in springville informed us due to the drought upper and middle Maggie Lakes didn’t have any water in them so don’t bother heading up there. Lower Maggie Lakes was beautiful though and there was an epic Sierra mountain storm the whole night, it was awesome.

    The trail does get a little hard to follow towards the end when it gets rocky but there were plenty of stacked rocks to follow so it wasn’t an issue.

    It was my first time there and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The hike in wore me out and took us a little over 5.5 hours to get there. It took us exactly four to get back but we were pushing it so we wouldn’t get caught in another storm! :p

  10. Nancy says:

    Hi Joshua,
    Thank for the fast reply regarding the permit! Unfortunately I called the station and they said Maggie lakes is closed due to a cabin fire. I was still hoping to do a trip on Oct. 10-12th around the same area. Do you have any recommendations with the same type of views of lakes, ability to fish, relatively same amount of distance and possibility of making a fire (not needed but would be nice)?

  11. Nancy says:

    O thanks so much for the update. This makes it so hard to decide now, since I planned to check out the Big PIne Lakes – North Trail as the alternative. Do you know when is the latest you can check out Maggie Lakes? I want to squeeze it in before it becomes freezing cold.

    • Joshua says:

      Depends on temperature and storms. Best guess would be sometime in November would be the last time you may want to head out. I recommend watching the weather closet before heading out for sure.

  12. Dan says:

    I’m planning a fishing trip with my buddy. We are looking at the longer router so we can fish the river on the way in. Do you have any information that would be helpful on taking this trail in vs the shorter one in you post?


    • Joshua says:

      Hi Dan. For fishing purposes, the longer route (I assume you mean the 11 mile one) will give you a lot more opportunities to fish along your journey to Maggie Lakes. The Long Meadow trail that starts in Shake Camp will mostly follow the North Fork Middle Fork Tule River. The first two miles you won’t do any fishing. Once you arrive at “redwood crossing” you could do fishing around there. Otherwise continue up the trail about another mile and you will be near the Tule River often. Easy to just hop off the trail and go fish a bit then jump back on it. Around mile marker 5, the trail goes east and uphill towards Summit Lake. You won’t be able to do any fishing until the lake. Summit Lake has fish, so you can fish there after you hike for about 7.6 miles. Beyond Summit Lake, I would stow away your poles till you get to Maggie Lakes. If you look at the map provided on this website, you’ll see where the trail stays along the Tule and would be great for fishing.

      The shorter 9 mile route from Summit Trailhead, you would have to “work for it” regarding fishing. Example is going downhill a mile or so to find enough water to fish in the creeks. That obviously means an uphill climb back to the main trail. Can be quite the detour. However, if this is appealing I would recommend fishing South Mountaineer Creek (0.5 miles from Summit Trailhead) and Mountaineer Creek (4.5 miles from Summit Trailhead). South Mountaineer Creek has small goldens right at the trail and below. Mountaineer you’ll want to hike down the Mountaineer Trail about a mile to and then start fishing.

      Hope that helps.

  13. Ashley says:

    Hi Joshua – thanks for all this great information. For the “alternate” route, the USGS map at doesn’t show the connection between the trail east of Summit Lake and the one heading south to Maggie Lakes. I assume it does since you’ve clearly done it a few times, but can you tell me how easy it is to find/follow at that point? Thanks!

    • Joshua says:

      It is very easy to find through the Park Service side. Once you turn south and head into the GTW boundary, it is faded till twin lakes. Lion Fire in 2011 went through the area and no trail crews have fixed it. It is faded but I was able to find it both times. People had gone before me as well so it was becoming established again

  14. Alan says:

    Is it possible to do a loop starting from the Mountain Home TH? It looks like there may be a trail just south of Maggie Mountain that connects form near Alpine Meadow to the Mountain Home area.

    • Joshua says:

      Yes it is possible Alan. The trail south of Maggie Peak is called the Griswold Trail. The trailbed itself was cleared. Signs were not replaced yet.

  15. I’m the camp host at Shake Camp. My name is Nita Sharp. When our back packers, hikers, trail blazers, horse people, and photo buffs come through for adventure I give warnings. One is to bring plenty of water if your scared of natural sources. Two is to bring first aid kits and some way of getting help. Always let someone know your route. Three please know some ares are more rocky terrain than others. So if bringing horses in for the trek please know this. We had a group of 30 with mules and horse. Prettiest pack train I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately two mules were injured and they dropped the loads. Left them behind and lead the injured animals out. This is Gods country so please take note. Sincerely Nita Sharp.

    • Joshua says:

      Thanks for the pointers and good advice Nita! If there are updates to give users of the Long Meadow Trail up to Summit and Maggie Lakes, such as down trees, rock slides, etc., please feel free to let me know via “Contact Us” or continuing posting here. All information is appreciated and welcomed πŸ™‚ Thanks again.

  16. Nita Sharp says:

    Absolutely. I’ll get my info from my bosses from CALFIRE. They have the best and most recent news or changes. I’ll be there till end of September and then all host from the 8 camp grounds leave for the season. πŸ‘

  17. Kyle says:

    Hey Joshua. Just wondering if you can give us an update on the water levels at Maggie Lakes? Hoping this last Winter’s rains have them at least partially filled back up again **fingers crossed**. Thanks!

    • Joshua says:

      Hi Kyle. I haven’t been there this year but based on other lake levels, I would imagine they are higher than last summers.

  18. Dan says:

    Hi Kyle,
    I was up there in mid July backpacking. Both upper and lower were full, even spilling! The lakes were beautiful!


  19. Craig Roberts says:

    FYI, the are zero fish in any of the lakes as of 9/24/16. My guess as to why would be a die-off due to the Cabin fire very near to the area in July of 2015. The lakes are still beautiful (my second trip there) but if you’re expecting to catch fish you’ll be disappointed.

    There was also a very creepy looking abandoned campsite that had clearly been ransacked by a bear: empty shredded food containers, a ripped-up tent, shoes, pots and pans, a child’s fishing pole, just a real mess. Our group got real spooked at the sight and high-tailed it back down the trail at first light.

    We saw a small bear that next day, and also found we’d been followed by a mountain lion on the way up the day before, judging by the cat tracks on top of our day-old boot tracks.

    Hopefully the lakes will recover soon and will once again have fish jumping in the crystal clear waters.

    • Joshua says:

      Thanks for the information Craig. Did you happen to share this info with the Forest Service office in Springville or Porterville by chance?

  20. Craig Roberts says:

    Hi Joshua. We stopped by the ranger station in Springville that Saturday, but they were already closed. I should have called them the following Monday, but it slipped my mind.

    For anyone asking about lake water levels, they appeared nearly full and the outlet stream was flowing, albeit only slightly.

    • Joshua says:

      Thanks Craig. I will let a contact I have their know about what you found tomorrow.

      • Adam says:

        Hi guys, Any word on this? I’m headed up there next week for a couple nights – we’re bringing our poles, but won’t expect much fish. But I would like to know if there have been any other bear or mountain lion reports.

      • Joshua says:

        No other reports have come in. A wildfire is east of Jacobsen Meadow so heads up.

  21. Chris Tickner says:

    Sure is!! My buddy and I were camping at confluence of Alpine Cr and Little Kern, and got out of there very quickly last night, hiking 6 miles in the dark!!

  22. Eric says:

    2017 has arrived and I’m curious about any fish reports from the three Maggie lakes. If anyone has anything to offer in the coming months, I’d encourage a report. Maggie Lakes looked like a great option for my two friends and me; two of us fly fish. Until I read about the cabin fire situation. Could this area be also on the list for trout eradication?

  23. jayhobbs says:

    You said: “Summit Trailhead (8,265 feet) at the end of Forest Service road 22S50 or β€œnorth road.”” Did you mean 21S50? I’m not too handy reading forest service maps, but I can’t find 22S50.

  24. jayhobbs says:

    Today the folks are Western Divide Ranger District said they heard the river between Shake cmpgrd and Maggie Lakes is impassable. — I don’t remember which, but perhaps the Tule river

  25. HHH says:

    Anyone hiked up to Maggie Lakes via Summit recently? I called the ranger station and FS road 21S50 is open now. Wondering if the trail is clear or covered in snow and how the water crossings are looking for a mid-late July trip. Thanks!

    • Kyle says:

      Same question here, although we’re planning on heading up the first weekend in April. Did you end up going? Either way, anyone else have a solid update on snow (if any) and water crossings (if passable)? Thanks!

  26. HHH says:

    Yep, went up last week (July 18-20). Mid week so we had the lakes to ourselves. But several larger groups coming in as we were hiking out on Thurs. Water crossings were very minor, didn’t even get shoes wet…nothing like the rushing rivers I was expecting! Tiny patch of snow that is probably melted by now. Lots of beautiful meadows full of wildlflowers and lovely views from the vistas. Camped at Lower Maggie 2 nights, day hiked to Upper Maggie on day 2 for an invigorating swim. Mosquitoes and clouds of gnats at dusk by the lake, better in the breeze. Challenging long hike for me coming from sea level that morning to 9000+ ft…headache and sloooow in the final push. But felt much better the next days. Do it!!!!

    • Kyle says:

      Awesome, thanks for the thorough report HHH! We’re planning on heading up next weekend, hopefully staying clear of swarms of mosquitos AND people πŸ™‚

  27. jayhobbs says:

    My son and I are heading up this Thursday — our first time there.

  28. andy cai says:

    Hi I am wondering with average snow condition, when will the lake start to thaw? I am planning an early season hike some time in early May.

    • Joshua says:

      Average year the roads are open by June 1 to access the Summit Trail on the North Road (21S50). Sometimes Mtn Home opens earlier and you can hike to Maggie Lakes from there. It does add 2 miles one way to your trip though. Typically Memorial Day weekend the roads are open.

  29. erinjburt says:

    Hi, I have a permit to hike this over Memorial Day weekend. Does anyone know if the road will be open – and are small cars ok or do you need a SUV? Also, is there a trail map that anyone can recommend? I will be leaving before the office opens and am nervous about the path being obscured by fallen trees and/or snow. This is my second backpacking trip so I want to be prepared!

    • Joshua says:

      You can download the trail map to Maggie Lakes via the GTW website. The road is open right now so it should be clear for you. The last mile is really rocky and rough, but I have seen cars parked at the trailhead before.i imagine they went very slow though.

      • erinjburt says:

        Thank you! If my car can’t make it the last mile, is it possible to park before then? I downloaded the map on this page as well as the route description, so hopefully both will be enough to get us to Maggie Lakes without getting lost! I’ve read reviews on where people stated they lost the trail due to downed trees.

  30. mj says:

    Planning on hiking this on August 9-11, are camp fires allowed near the lakes?

  31. Jen Rey says:

    Any recent trail reports about Maggie Lakes? I’m looking at backpacking this the week of July 4th. Thanks!

    • Joshua says:

      Road is still closed that is the traditional way of accessing Maggie Lakes. Still no reports in either of someone heading there this year. Hopefully soon!

      • jenrey says:

        Thanks for the quick response. I saw that there’s still a lot of snow up that way, which is making it hard to find backpacking options in July. But I’m glad for all the water!

      • Warren says:

        Is there any update on this? Planning a trip for end of September.


  32. Daniel Albers says:

    Any update on road 21S50 to the Summit Trailhead being open yet. Plan to hike in July 3.

  33. Arleen says:

    Hello! Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information! We were interested in summiting Maggie Mountain after the lakes. Do you happen to know if there is a trail to the summit?

  34. Jesse B says:

    I hiked up to Maggie lakes a few years ago and wanted to go again. Is it closed right now with regards to COVID-19?

    • Joshua says:

      Road access is likely closed due to the COVID-19. I’ll be checking in with the USFS soon on road access and report back to the main page.

  35. Keith Blodorn says:

    Does anyone know the condition of Summit Trail right now? Hoping to go this weekend. The ranger told me in acknowledging my permit application that the North Road is currently closed – may or may not be open by this weekend.

    • oddtiger says:

      I just got update from Tulare county that Balch Park will open this weekend. If the Mountain Home State Forest opens at the same time (should be, but worth checking with them), you can hike up from Hidden Falls Campground, along north fork-middle fork Tule river. I did it a couple of years ago. There might be some snow on the north slope of Sheep Mountain but that’s it. The trail is not in very good condition once you pass summit lake, make sure you have navigation tools with you. Avoid Griswold trail unless you would like to bushwhacking/walking in dead trees for miles off trail.

      • Joshua says:

        Will have a roads report soon but North Road is partially open. May have to walk on the road in the snow for awhile. Details to come πŸ™‚

      • Keith Blodorn says:

        Thanks! I will check in with the ranger station tomorrow on the status of North Road. If I can’t get to Summit TH, we’ll have to make other plans.

        Any suggested alternatives for a three day / two night hike that are more accessible right now (between COVID and seasonal roads)?


  36. jenrey says:

    Hi Keith,

    I responded earlier today but I think my comment got lost during the WordPress login. So here I go again. I spoke with the Western Divide ranger station a few times this week, because we wanted to go to Maggie Lakes over the weekend. The only open access into the Golden Trout Wilderness and Maggie Lakes is the Wishon trail via the Long Meadow trail. (The Long Meadow trail is the longer route mentioned at the top of Joshua’s post.) Total mileage one way is about 18 miles. The Middle Fork Tule River is running at about 80 cfs (cubic feet per second). Safe crossing volume is 20-40 cfs. Three people have drowned in the river in the last few weeks, although mostly from taking selfies on slippery banks and falling into the river. This trail crosses the river about 4 times. The ranger said you might be able to get across in the morning when the water is low, but probably not in the afternoon. He also said you should plan on having to wait several days to get across the river depending on flows. This information exceeded our risk tolerance, so we changed our plans.

    Also to note: The ranger confirmed that Jacobson and Griswold trails, which are connectors from the Wishon trail to the Summit trail, are completely overgrown. He said you could probably find your way up with map and compass navigation, but you’ll be hiking through dense overgrowth. From Wishon via either of these trails is about 11 miles to Maggie Lakes; the trails are shown on the USFS quadrangle maps of the area.

    Hope this helps!

  37. Keith Blodorn says:

    Thanks! That’s beyond my safety factor too. Do you know of any good alternative 3-day trips in the area that are open / accessible?

  38. Debbie Canfield says:

    Does anyone know the status of the Summit trail currently to Maggie lakes right now and what the snow level is like up there? It looks like it crosses South Mountaineer Creek, is this an actual water crossing or is there bridge?

    • Joshua says:

      It is a crossing. No bridge.

      • Debbie Canfield says:

        OK, thank you, do you know if it is cross-able at the moment? We are considering doing this July 10-12 and unsure of the state of Summit Trail right now.

      • Joshua says:

        You should be be able to cross it without worry. It is not that big to begin with πŸ™‚

  39. Jesus Nava says:

    Do you need wilderness passes to go there and stay the night? If so where do you get them?

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