Mono Pass photo; Top of the World

Mono Pass is at the headwaters of the Rock Creek Canyon and an alternative hike to the always busy Little Lakes Valley hike. But don't expect it to be easy. The trail climbs 2,000 feet in a few miles. 

Little Lakes Valley at the head of Rock Creek Canyon is one of the Eastern Sierra’s classic hikes. The drive up to the 10,300-foot high Mosquito Flat trailhead, one of the highest trailheads in the country, takes away much of the pain normally associated with access to the high country. A relatively easy trail gives access to an iconic, alpine basin; a huge granite bowl filled with more than half a dozen emerald and sapphire lakes, surrounded by soaring peaks capped in snow.

Most people that take this well-traveled backcountry highway head right for Little Lakes Valley, and for good reason. The long string of lakes scattered like emerald beads on a necklace in grass and granite are matchless and black and white striped Bear Creek Spire is a mountain made for photos.

But it’s a crowded trail, a busy trail. Hundreds of people a day head up this trail in mid-summer and sometimes, it’s just too much.

There is another option for those who want a bit more solitude and don’t mind a bit of work. It’s called the Mono Pass Trail and it’s the easiest and fastest way to see the kind of true alpine high country, country that most people never see in their lives; a stunning world of granite cliff and tiny, icy lakes and a view all the way across the Sierra and into the western slope of the range where huge Edison Lake broods above Fresno. 

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