Photo of Sandpiper Lakwe, Fresno County, CA

Sandpiper Lake - John Muir Wilderness

Photo of Sandpiper Lake

Sandpiper Lake

Hidden away deep in the John Muir Wilderness, Sandpiper Lake is a great place to visit if you are anxious to get away from the crowds along the John Muir Trail and want to try your luck catching those magnificent golden trout. Sandpiper Lake is best visited as part of a multi-day backpacking trip that includes stops at other excellent fishing destinations in the area.

Making Your Way to Rose Lake

To get to Sandpiper Lake follow the directions to the Bear Creek Diversion Dam for the Bear Creek outing. A 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance is required for the final two miles of the drive, although there are other alternatives for reaching this area. Hike 12 miles up the trail to Rosemarie Meadow on the John Muir Trail, a climb of about 3,000 feet. I usually like to split this hike into two days and then set up a basecamp somewhere along Bear Creek. From your basecamp you can access Sandpiper Lake and the lakes around it as a day trip out of your basecamp. (See also the Rose Lake trip.)


In My Creel

  • Daredevle Skeeter
  • Super duper
  • Mepp's Syclops
  • Mepps Lightin'
  • brown Elk Caddis
  • Zebra midge
  • Wooly Buggers
  • #16 Black Gnat

For lake fishing I carried several lures, but by far my best luck was fishing with flies, especially the little black gnat that some scoundrel of a fish stole from me.

That Black Gnat was snatched up by eager trout from Bear Creek all the way up to Three Island Lake.



The turn to Sandpiper Lake is easy to miss because the sign is set about ten feet back from the John Muir Trail. Going south on the John Muir Trail watch for the turn to Sandpiper Lake about ten yards past the sign which marks the 10,000-foot elevation level. If you come to the Rose Lake turn, you have gone too far.

Photo of sign pointing way to Sandpiper Lake

After turning off the JMT, hike .7 miles to Lou Beverly Lake where you will find good fishing but will have to contend with grass that has begun to invade the lake. The next mile up to Sandpiper Lake is steep in places, but you do pass a lively waterfall along the way to brighten your day.

I found the best fishing at Sandpiper Lake at the far end near the inlet. If you continue up the inlet creek you will soon arrive at Medley Lake (actually a cluster of lakes), many with catchable size trout. Another mile of hiking will carry you to Three Island Lake. A pair of anglers I met there were doing well fishing in the deep pools just below the lake itself.

Accommodations and Supplies

Before or after your wilderness trip to Sandpiper Lake you can find lodging at nearby Vermilion Valley Resort at Lake Edison and at Mono Hot Springs Resort. Plentiful lodging, including vacation cabin rentals, can also be found at Huntington Lake or Shaver Lake. For more information about lodging and camping at Shaver, Huntington, and Edison lakes, see California's Greatest Lakes.

Photo of Lou Beverly Lake
Lou Beverly Lake

Several campgrounds are located in the area: Mono Creek, Mono Hot Springs, Ward Lake, Jackass Meadow, and Bolsillo. Others are found along the way back to Huntington Lake. Campsites can be found among the trees along the southern and eastern side of Sandpiper Lake, but as I mentioned before, I would select a base camp lower down along Bear Creek or Lou Beverly Lake and use the camp as a home port from which to explore the more than 30 lakes in the area.


On your way to the Bear Creek diversion dam trailhead, you can pick up fishing supplies at any of these locations.




Recommended Books for Fishing the High Sierra





Photo of Three Island Lake

Three Island Lake


Other Nearby Featured Trips in
Fresno County:


High Sierra Trails

A Backpacker's Guide to the
Most Spectacular Trails
in the Sierra Nevada