Iceberg Lake Loop

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July 4, 2003

Outline and Background

A longish dayhike looping past Iceberg Lake. This loop goes past about a dozen variously significant lakes in the Mammoth High Country. Fairly major snowfields around Cecile and Iceberg Lakes. Map(s) of perambulations below.


An early start was made, to avoid the heat near the San Joaquin River. The first eight miles to Minaret Lake was familiar, from a hike the previous year. From Minaret Lake, I first made a false start north to the small lake in the cirque there, apparently a popular camping location, dropped back down to Minaret Lake and picked up the use trail that climbs to the pass above Cecile Lake, some rough spots, also a couple beautiful tarns. Crossed part of the snowfield that slopes into Cecile Lake before coming to a shaded area that was still rock hard, detoured up a few hundred feet onto a safe rocky ridge and down the other side. Continuing along the north edge of the lake, the use trail becomes obscure and the obvious drop off to Iceberg Lake more and more ominous. Steep, steep snowfields to each side, and what appears to be a sheer drop off to a snowfield edging into the ice filled lake below. Happily, as you actually start going over the edge, it is revealed to be not so steep and mostly rocky with good footing...and the snowfield at the foot is almost flat.

Iceberg Lake is amazing. Most of the other lakes have large irregular chunks of ice in them, but for some reason in Iceberg the ice breaks into neat polygonal shapes and drifts around the lake pushed by the wind. Below the lake, snow covered the use trail, and there was some uninteresting bushwhacking through willow and brush. Ediza Lake is pretty, but no comparison to Iceberg.

Continuing down Shadow Creek, you join the JMT, and the loop can be shortened by turning off at Shadow Lake, dropping down to Agnew Meadow and taking the shuttle bus back to the trailhead. That wasn't my choice, I continued on the JMT, climbing up from Shadow Lake to Rosalie Lake and following the chain of lakes there, on the high flat above the San Joaquin, before dropping down to join the Minaret Lake Trail at Johnson Lake and the quick downgrade back to the trailhead.

Summary and Technical Details

About 23 miles, with approximately 4200 feet of ascent. Bunny Hike Rating: 103 +5CC = 108.

Weather and Conditions

Sunny and pleasant at elevation, warmish near Devil's Postpile. The trails were well groomed. The cross-country use trails were mostly easy to follow except where they were covered in snow. An iceaxe would have been helpful for some shaded spots (left on the floor next to where I was packing).


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Route in red and fuschia

Map with route

The holiday weekend concluded with a two day backpack trip to Marie Lakes

Marie Lakes Loop . Hiking Homepage

Iceberg Lake Loop / Robert Parks / / revised August '04