Fern Lake is a destination for hearty hikers. Located on the June Lake Loop, the Fern Lake trail starts out steep and then gets steeper. It climbs 1500 feet in about 2 miles to a beautiful mountain lake tucked just inside the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Fishing is good for brook trout both for fly fishermen and spin casting anglers. A varied shoreline provides plenty of good places from which to cast your line.
I carried both my fly fishing rod and a spinning outfit with me. Both produced fish, but the fly line armed with a black gnat seemed to be just the thing the fish were after.
The trailhead to Fern Lake is located on the June Lake Loop (Highway 158) in Mono County, about 2.5 miles west of the community of June Lake. Parking is on the shoulder of the road. Water is available in a couple of places along the route, but you'll want to start out with a good supply. The trail begins in the forest and soon begins to climb. Along the way you will gain spectacular views of Silver Lake and 10,800-foot Carson Peak. The trail switchbacks up the slope.
After a mile (which may seem more like two at this elevation), you will arrive at a junction, one direction going to Yost Lake, the other to Fern. By taking a short side-trip on the Yost Lake trail you gain access to drinking water (filter before drinking, of course) at Fern Creek. Then you can double back to the Fern Lake Trail.
Once you start up the Fern Creek trail beyond the sign, the trail becomes even steeper. It climbs steadily for a half mile before the gradient eases. A second somewhat level portion farther up the trail hints that you are nearing the lake, but one final uphill push awaits you.
Wind blowing at me from across the lake right away sent me circling to the far side where I soon had the wind behind me. I found two coves there which proved to be the best spots on the lake. Fishing started a little slow, but as the afternoon waned and feeding picked up, I did much better. None of the brook trout that I caught were much more than pan size, but the beautiful scenery made up for it. Although I had passed lots of people on the lower part of the trail, I had the lake to myself.
Fair backpacking sites are available near where the trail arrives at the lake. Since it is in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, permits are required for overnight stays. No fires are allowed at the lake. Campgrounds are located all around the June Lake Loop. Some take reservations, others are first come, first served. If you have an RV, nearby Deadman Creek Campground might be a good choice.
For more information about fishing, camping, lodging, and boating around the June Lakes Loop, see California's Greatest Lakes coverage of June Lakes Loop.
There is plenty of lodging available around the June Lakes Loop. Since it is such as popular fishing destination, finding a vacancy can sometimes be difficult. Another lodging option is to drive south a short distance to Mammoth Lakes where you have a wide choice of accommodations. There, winter is the high season, so rates in summer are reasonable. For more information about lodging in Mono County, see Mono County - California's Eastern Sierra.
If you are in need of fishing supplies, try one of these places: