Photo of Evolutioin Valley,  Kings Canyon National Park, CA

Evolution Valley Fishing

Kings Canyon National Park

Photo of Evolution Lake, Kings Canyon Natiional Park, CA

Evolution Lake

Evolution Valley and the adjoining McClure Meadow in Kings Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful areas in the entire Sierra. A few miles farther south of the valley on the John Muir Trail rests Evolution Lake, situated at 10,800', 25 miles from the nearest road. Evolution Valley offers days of rewarding fishing amidst spectacular scenery.

Evolution Creek, which tumbles from Evolution Lake and then trips and meanders through Colby Meadow, McClure Meadow, and Evolution Valley, provides miles of interesting fishing. Evolution Valley makes a rewarding destination for a multi-day backpacking outing. For those who would rather ride into their camp, contact the High Sierra Pack Station or the Lost Valley Pack Station.

Making Your Way to Evolution Valley

The drive from the Fresno area to the trailhead at Florence Lake can take several hours. After passing Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake the road narrows and winds its way up to 9000' Kaiser Pass. From there it twists its way down to the Edison Lake and Florence Lake areas. Parts of the road are single lane. Be sure to get gas in Prather or Shaver Lake before heading over the pass. Snow sometimes keeps the road closed in early summer.

In My Creel

  • #14 tan Elk Hair Caddis
  • #14 Grizzly Wulff
  • #16 mosquito
  • #16, #12 pheasant tail nymph
  • Berkley Power Bait
  • Panther Martin
  • Super Duper

I brought a variety of flies for Evolution Creek and some lures that I wanted to try out in Evolution Lake.

You will find a small store at Florence Lake where you can stock up on any last-minute items you forgot or enjoy that last ice cream before you set for Evolution Valley. Within a half mile radius you will find a picnic area, a pack station, a boat launch ramp, and ferry service across the lake. Buy your ticket at the store. It was $20 for a round trip in 2009. The 20-minute ride saves four miles of hiking.

Photo of Florence Lake, Fresno County, CA

Florence Lake

Florence Lake to Piute Creek

From the south end of the lake follow a trail up the granite ridge and across to a junction with the main trail after half a mile. The 4-wheel-drive road that intertwines with the trail leads to Muir Trail Ranch, a guest lodge operated by the same people who own the Florence Lake store. Stick to the trail when it diverges from the road because eventually the two routes go separate ways.

Plan two days to backpack into Evolution Valley, about a 16 mile hike from the south end of Florence Lake. Since the steepest climbing comes in the second day, most hikers try to go as far as Piute Creek the first day. The trail has some ups and downs, but the elevation gains are moderate. Fishing along the way in the South Fork of the San Joaquin River can be rewarding. Pass the cabin built as a memorial to John Muir along the way. A good campsite is found along the river about a quarter mile past the Piute Creek bridge (about 9 miles from Florence Lake).

Photo of Joh Muir Cabin, Kings Canyon National Park, CA

Muir Cabin

On to Evolution Valley

A second day of hiking carries you up the South Fork of the San Joaquin River, crossing two bridges before beginning a steep climb up to Evolution Valley. Part way up the slope you meet Evolution Creek tumbling from one scoured out basin to another. Soon afterward you emerge in Evolution Valley. Despite your tired feet, push on to McClure Meadow and camp just past the ranger station where you will have a spectacular view to the east.

Fishing all along Evolution Creek is good, but the best fish are found in the pools upstream from Colby Meadow. You could spend all day working from one spot to the next. Using McClure Meadow as a base camp, day hike 4 miles up to Evolution Lake and plan a full day of fishing for golden trout along its shores. Sapphire Lake is situated only a mile farther along the trail.

Photo of South Fork San Joaquin River, Kings Canyon National Park, CA

San Joaquin River

Accommodations and Supplies

In June and September the Muir Trail Ranch offers a short-stay option, which could be a single day and includes meals. Other accommodations can be found at the Vermillion Valley Resort near Edison Lake and nearby Mono Hot Springs. Vacation cabins and lodges abound at Huntington Lake or Shaver Lake. Several campgrounds are located in the area. Right by Florence Lake is Jackass Meadows campground. Others include nearby Mono Creek, Mono Hot Springs, Ward Lake, and Bolsillo. More can be found along the road back to Huntington Lake.

Backpackers will find good camping sites along the river at the south end of Florence Lake, just beyond Muir Trail Ranch, a quarter mile beyond the Piute Creek bridge, at the first bridge beyond Aspen Meadow, and near the second bridge. In the Evolution Valley region the best sites are in McClure Meadow. At Evolution Lake campfires are not permitted but campsites are available. Wilderness Permits are required and can be obtained at the ranger station in Prather or at the High Sierra Ranger Station located beyond Kaiser Pass.

logo saying California's Greatest Lakes

For more information about camping, lodging, boating, and fishing at Shaver Lake (and Huntington Lake), see California's Greatest Lakes coverage of Shaver Lake.

If there are any fishing supplies you need to pick up on your way to Evolution Valley, you might try these places:

Recommended Books for Fishing along the John Muir Trail


A nice side-trip from Evolution Valley is to cross to the south and climb 1000' and 3 miles up to McGee Lakes.

Photo of McClure Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park, CA

McClure Meadow

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