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Palisades Glacier Adventure

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

The Palisades Glacier is located on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the John Muir Wilderness. To access the Glacier you would head north on Glacier Lodge Road in the Town of Big Pine California. The trail head is on the right side of the road toward the top across from the Upper Sage Flat Campground in the overnight parking lot. Follow the trail north for about 5.5 miles.

On your way up the trail you will follow the Big Pine Creek and pass numerous waterfalls. Along the way up there are many spots for camping. Just before you reach First Lake you will have a fork in the trail, stick to the left and you will soon have a great view of First Lake. You will pass Second and Third lake, then come to your next fork in the trail. Make a left and you will be heading up the mountain towards Sam Mack Meadow. You will reach Sam Mack Meadow in about .75 miles. There are two campsites in the meadow. You will head across the stream near the first campsite. The trail will become harder to locate as you get closer to the Glacier. In about 1 mile the trail will become non-existent and you will then start to follow Rock Cairns. At this point the Glacier is about .5 miles up the mountain. This portion

becomes very dangerous because of the slick rocks and an occasional rock slide. I have seen snow and ice in this area as late as July. I have made this journey six times over the years and only made it to the Glacier twice due to weather conditions. The weather can change on an hourly basis.

I found it best to make this trip a three to four day trip using the first and second day for acclimation. The Glacier is a little over 12,000 ft and you will feel it. Summit the Glacier on the third day which allows you to take your time to enjoy the views, and be safe.


  • Before you start your journey you will need to get a permit at - Trail name is “Big Pine Creek North”

  • I found that the best time to go is towards the end of September. Its starting to cool down and there's less bugs and people. Plus this time of the year there usually is no snow and ice going to the Glacier. BUT: the weather can change rapidly. On one trip the skies were clear, and half a mile from the glacier we were hit with a fast moving blizzard.

  • Camping spots are not marked and you will have to keep on the look out for obvious spots that people have used in the past.

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