35 miles and 6,400’ gain overall
I first saw a photograph of Reflection Lake on the cover of a Kings Canyon hiking guide by Mike White. From that day on, I have wanted to visit. I believe East and Reflection Lakes are two of the most beautiful lakes in Kings Canyon National Park. I had been as far as East Lake on a day hike but this would require an overnight since it was 35 miles round trip. The sign in Junction Meadow really is twelve miles from Road’s End. After the early morning 2.5 hour drive from Fresno, I picked up my wilderness permit at Road's End and was on the trail about 7:30am.
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Bailey Bridge Just Past Mist Falls Trail
One Of A Close Grouping Of Bridges Before The Dreaded Switchbacks
I have been on the Bubb’s Creek trail enough times to anticipate the steep climb of over 1,000’ on the switchbacks. One chronic problem is the swarms of gnats and mosquitoes that add to the misery of the climb. There is a good view up and down the canyon and one can see the Sphinx most of the climb. There is another section with lots of stairs that climbs another 1,000’ before Junction Meadow.
Canyon View From Switchbacks
At Junction Meadow I headed south about 2pm on the trail that follows East Creek upstream.
I was a bit surprised that even in the beginning of September in another drought year, Bubb’s Creek crossing could have taken me off my feet had I not been careful. It was another 3 miles to East Lake with over 1,000’ of additional climb. The trail is distinct and well traveled with good access to water. There is even a nice creek that crosses the trail for water resupply past mid way that comes from an unnamed lake.
Bubb's Creek Crossing
East Creek Crossing
Mt Brewer Left Of Center
There is a sign on the trail to indicate that you are at East Lake. At that point, there is a use trail leading down and to the right that will take you past excellent camping sites and a bear box. You can also drop down to the lake for a good photograph location. The trail continues past the sign and along the lake there are additional camping locations and a bear box on the south end of the lake also.
East Lake Looking Back On Climb To Reflection Lake
After the south end of East Lake there is a small stream crossing. This steam comes from the east. At this point you follow the “trail” up the canyon on the east side of East Creek. I believe that calling it a trail does not make it one. The 500’ two mile climb is across large sections of bare granite and two large boulder fields. I lost the trail most of the way up and down for at least a mile. Just keep in mind that East Creek is to your east. Ascending you can see East Lake as a reference point.
I arrived at Reflection Lake at 5:30 pm and had intended on staying the night at Reflection Lake. The light was not the best for photographs and there did not appear to be any campsites. I headed back to East Lake and got there about 7 pm to set up camp. I broke camp and left at 7am. 20 miles the first day made the second day of 15 miles not seem so long and I arrived at Road’s End at 2:30 pm the following day. The sights were well worth the effort but maybe a four day three night trip would suit others better.
East Lake At Sunrise
Getting Ready To Break Camp Following Morning Coffee
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