Lake Edison and Lake Florence, Sierra National Forest

Notes by piero scaruffi
California hikes | Sierra peaks | Other California destinations
Lake Edison and Lake Florence are remote (as remote as one can get) lakes in the western Sierra, south of Yosemite and north of Kings Canyon.

A number of trails leave from Edison Lake in all directions, also providing easy access to the John Muir trail. Besides the ones listed here, i also recommend using Lake Edison and Lake Florence as starting/ending points for "trans-sierra" hikes.

Silver Pass and Goodale Pass


We took the ferry ($9) at 4pm from the friendly Vermilion Resort. The ferry left us at the northeastern tip of the lake. There are bear lockers and unofficial campsites. We camped and we started hiking the following day (we left our tent and sleeping bags at the landing for the ferryman to take them back to Vermillion). We took the trail north that connects with the John Muir trail (or PCT, Pacific Coast Trail) that comes from Yosemite and goes on to Mt Whitney. We hiked uphill (north) the John Muir trail to Silver Pass (one of the most photographed views of the Sierras). After the pass, we turned left to go to Goodale Pass (first downhill, then uphill), and then we descended the Goodale Pass trail all the way back to the Vermilion Resort, i.e. Lake Edison.

  • Start: the ferry landing & Mono creek trail (altitude: 2300m) [30']
  • PCT junction 2kms [1h]
  • Mono Creek trail junction 2kms [1h 30']
  • Mott Lake trail junction 2kms [2h]
  • Pascale's waterfall [2h10']
  • Meadow (2950m) [2h15']
  • Silver Lake [3h30']
  • Silver Pass (3300m) 6.5 kms [Total: 12.5 kms to Silver Pass] [4h]
  • Goodale Pass trail junction 1.5 kms [4h 30']
  • Goodale Pass (3350m) 3kms [5h 30']
  • End of switchbacks [6h 30']
  • Upper Graveyard Meadow (2800) 5 kms [7h]
  • Devil's Bathtub trail junction 5 kms [8h 15']
  • Bridge 5 kms [9h 30']
  • Vermilion Resort 1.5 kms [21kms to Vermilion Resort] [10h]
  • Grand total: 33.5 kms, 10 hours

Directions for Edison Lake. Take 101 south, 152 east, 99 south. Before Fresno, take the Herndon exit and find Herndon East (not terribly obvious, turn left over the railway tracks). Keep driving east (many traffic lights). Eventually you will see a sign for 168 east. Continue on 168 east (uphill) passing Shaver Lake and bypassing Huntington Lake. The road summits at Kaiser Pass. After Kaiser Pass the road becomes really bad and goes down into a valley. After about 30 kms, one reaches Edison Lake. There is a resort and campground by the lake (vermilion Valley Resort, 559 259-4000). It takes about 2.5 hours from the Bay Area to northern Fresno and easily 2.5 hours from the Herndon exit of 99 to Lake Edison.

Details of the drive from the Fresno area to Edison Lake:

  • Shaver Lake
  • Huntington Lake
  • Kaiser Pass [the fast road ends here]
  • First campground
  • After about 18 kms from Kaiser Pass: Bolsillo campground and Forest Office [road still paved but bad]
  • After 2kms a fork: Florence Lake to the right, Lake Edison to the left
  • Mono Hot Springs and its campground [really bad road]
  • After 8 kms from the fork: Lake Edison and (2kms north) Vermillion Resort [the road ends on the beach]
  • The branch that goes from the fork to Florence Lake (do NOT take this if you are going to Edison Lake) is about 9 kms (Ward Lake is half way between this fork and Florence Lake).
It takes about one hour from Kaiser Pass to Edison Lake. You pay dearly if you make a mistake, so ask people to make sure you are heading in the right direction.
  • Pictures of this hike
  • Weather forecast
  • Mono Hot Springs
  • Edison Lake
  • Florence Lake
    Hiking from Florence Lake to Edison Lake.

    Florence Lake (2260m) is served by an even better ferry, that runs 4-5 times a day, from 9am till 5pm. One way is $9 (2010). There is a radiotelephone at the other side of the lake to call the store that runs the ferry.
    A 42km trail connects to Edison Lake via Selden Pass (3300 m).
    Suggested logistics:

    • Drive to Edison Lake. Store a tent in the bear locker at the Bear Ridge trailhead (follow the signs for "vista point"). Then drive back to the junction and to Florence Lake. Park at the large parking lot above the store. There is no restaurant at Florence Lake, just the store that also runs the ferry). Camp (in a different tent), sleep.
    • The following day at 8:30am take the ferry (first one at 8:30, last one at 16:30) to the other side of Florence Lake. Start hiking at 9am carrying superlight sleeping bags on the John Muir trail from Florence Lake to Edison Lake (An alternative is to get to Florence Lake by 16:30, cross the lake, stay at one of the cabins at Muir Trail Ranch, which also has hot spring baths).
    • Reach Edison Lake around sunset (20:00). Use the other tent and sleep by Edison Lake.
    • The following morning hitchhike or hike back to Florence Lake on the road (most likely a combination of the two). It is about 9kms from Edison Lake (vista point) to the junction, and 9kms from the junction to Florence Lake. It takes about 45' to drive from one to the other.
    Hike milestones:
    • Lost Valley (2400m)
    • Muir Trail Ranch (2350m): 8.5kms - about 2 hrs
    • Cutoff to John Muir/PCT trail, turn left at the sign that says "private" (2600m): 1.5 kms - 45'
    • Meadow 1 hr
    • Sallie Keyes Lakes (??): 6kms - 1 hr
    • Selden Pass (3300m): 3.5 kms - 1 hr (total 5h 45')
    • Rosemere Meadow (3100m): 4.3 kms
    • Upper Bear Creek Meadow (2960m): 2.2 kms
    • Hilgard Creek (2900m): 2kms
    • Junction with Bear Creek Trail (2780m): 3.2 kms
    • Junction with Bear Ridge Trail (3062m): 2.6 kms
    • Bear Ridge Trail to Lake Edison (2400m): 9 kms
    Total: 42.8 kms