Back to index Lundy Canyon Hike
Trip Date:  07/02/2016

: 5.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1300'

Group Size: 1
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Lundy Canyon Hike
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Lundy Canyon Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 01.353, W 119 15.715     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates

Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   From Highway 395 turn west on Lundy Lake Road (Highway 167) approximately 7 1/2 miles north of the town of Lee Vining and Highway 120 (Tioga Pass Road.)   Follow this road approximately 6 1/2 miles past Lundy Lake to the trailhead at a one-way circular parking area.  Much of the last portion of this road is unpaved but is navigatable with a regular clearance vehicle.
Hazards of Note:   Four log water crossings and significant elevation gain after the first 2 1/2 miles.   NOTE:   If continuing on into the 20 Lakes Basin from Lundy Canyon, the rating on this hike changes to HARD. Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  This is a relatively popular trail, with many raging waterfalls in the early spring and summer, as well as an incredible display of fall colors during the September and October timeframe.
General Notes:
From the parking area at the Lundy Canyon Trailhead, find the information kiosk near the west side of the parking circle.  The trail heads off along Mine Creek or most of the journey, which flows down from the 20 Lakes Basin (and Helen Lake specifically) a couple thousand feet in elevation above your current location.   After a first water crossing using some helpfully-located logs across the water, you will start to slowly gain elevation over the next two miles.  A number of waterfalls will be visible along your way, both on the right and left sides as they cascade down the steep canyon walls but also along Mine Creek which you will follow upriver for most of the hike into the canyon.  You will also cross this water three times along the way.  About 3/4 of a mile in you will cross the stream of a waterfall coming from your right, which is the outlet from Burro Lake 1800 feet above you.  This is a destination for the strenuous and risk-taking hiker, which can be attained by heading up the right side of this water until you cross over it just before it bends to the west high above, and then following it west and then north when it turns sharply again as you near the lake.  
Continuing on the main Lundy Canyon Trail, you will have magnificent views of the Lower and Upper Mill Creek Falls, and then at about 1 3/4 miles the trail will begin to head upward at a significant rate.  Those who travel this far are urged to hike just a little less than a quarter mile further, to get a great view of the Mills Creek water from where it first drops down into the Lundy Canyon from Lake Helen still another 500 feet in elevation above you.  The trail up into 20 Lakes Basin is obvious for most of the way, but it is comprised of loose shale, making it dangerous to the hiker not wanting to lose the trail as well as the hiker who might have concerns over slipping on the extremely unstable footing in this section.  Heading up is certainly preferable to heading down, and if this route is to be taken all the way into 20 Lakes Basin the recommendation is to come out at Saddlebag Lake and make it a point to point hike.  

The view to the west up into Lundy Canyon from near the trailhead parking area. Lundy Canyon
There are a couple of information signs along the eginning of the hike with some general trail info as well as a description of what t expect ahead in the canyon.
Info kiosk Trail info
The towering mountains on both sides of the trail are impressive from the very start, including this large granite section along the south side of the trail. Canyon South
These logs across the water provide a means to make the first stream crossing that you will make along this journey. First water crossing 
Nearly 3/4 of a mile in is a waterfall on the right (north) side which flows out of Burro Lake, almost 2000 feet above you.  Some have headed up on the right side of these falls on their quest to reach the very remote Burro Lake. Burro Lake Falls 
Although Lower Mill Creek Falls doesn't have the same impressive vertical drop as the higher falls, its cascade along a stair step of granite is spectacular. Lower Mill Creek Falls
Heading up the canyon there are at least 10 large waterfalls that you pass by, and a number of snowmelt cascades as well scattered high up along your path.
Approaching Lower falls 
At the beginning of the hike (and along the road beforehand,) you can see the beaver dams built by many industrious critters which live in the area.  This is all that remains of one of the trapper cabins from long ago.  Trapper Cabin 
Nearing the end of the canyon at the almost 2 mile mark, the trail crosses over water once again and starts a long, steady climb up.  
Closer to the end of the canyon
Mill Creek continues to stream down the middle of the canyon, splitting into two streams a couple of times before rejoining further up the way. Mill Creek 
A couple times the trail gets pretty close to the creek as you ascend, but soon it will leave the water far below to become a set of switchbacks through shale and loose rock. Lots of water
A couple times short use trails off the main trail lead you to impressive views of the water cascading its way down from 20 Lakes Basin to Lundy Lake now far below. Falls
After about 1/3 mile of the unstable shale section of trail, you will have the option of continuing up one of a few use trails which climb up the rock, or stopping to catch of view of the Upper Mill Creek Falls. Shale Trail
I opted on this trip to forgoe climbing all the way up to the 20 Lakes Basin, as the trek back down through the shale pathway would not have been much fun on a day that was quickly gathering storm clouds.   Upper Falls
Turning around and heading down was no disappointment, with sweeping views of the entire canyon spread out before you. Lundy Canyon 
Another use trail off to the southeast on the way back down took me to a couple of backcountry isolated campsites as well as a nice rocky overlook with this view back up to the west. Another look west
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike