Located in the center of California lies Bass Lake, a beautiful lake town that welcomes visitors year round. Complete with boat rentals, cabins, camping, resorts, and restaurants, Bass Lake has everything one needs in a vacation destination. When you’re not busy kayaking or jet skiing, be sure to take time to enjoy some hiking. The most popular hikes in Bass Lake, California are easy to moderate, and can be done in a couple hours to a half day.
1. Way of The Mono Hiking Trail
One of the most popular hikes in Bass Lake, California is the hiking trail called “The Way of The Mono.” A half mile trail that introduces a very slow incline, the Way of the Mono hiking trail leads you to a gorgeous view of Bass Lake. Prepare to walk through shaded, green rows of trees with a clearly marked trail.
Native American History
At certain points along the trail are signs that give information about a hunting and gathering society of Native Americans called the Mono. They were the first inhabitants of Bass Lake hundreds of years ago. The Mono, or Monache, according to one of the first signs on the trail, had a “territory east of the Southern Sierras to the coast. With great respect for nature, the Mono chose to live with Mother Earth’s generous supply of food and herbs rather than upset its balance. They moved within their territory to follow animal migration and seasonal vegetable growth.” The signs introduce a 10 year old Mono girl named Eku’Mina, whose developing story acts as a guide along the way.
There are many different plant and tree varieties along these popular hikes in Bass Lake, California. Along the Way of the Mono hiking trail there are signs that point out the different types and describe how they were of use to Mono families. There is a warning of poison oak, so be sure to stay on the trail and keep an eye out. One tree that especially caught my eye was the Manzanita. I visited this hike in winter, and I spotted bare Manzanitas growing out of rocks and among the most unlikely places you’d expect to see plant life. Most of them were at the peak of the hike with their gray, twisted branches stretching up toward the sky, adding to the dramatic landscape surrounding the view of Bass Lake.
- Length of Trail: 0.5 miles (1 mile total if heading out and back)
- Level of Difficulty: Easy
- Environment: Plenty of shade and greenery. Great lake view at the top.
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Trail Clearly Marked: Yes
- Availability: Open all year
- Parking: Parking lot close by next to the big sign that says “Way of the Mono Hiking Trail”
- Recommended gear: Hydroflask, small hiking day pack, and a great camera. I use the lightweight Sony Alpha A6000 Mirrorless Camera and I love it.
2. Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail
One of the other most popular hikes in Bass Lake, California is the Angel Falls via Willow Creek Trail. A more moderate hike marked by lots of incline and some slippery rocks, this trail leads you to the beautiful payoff of waterfalls, streams, and rock pools. This trail can get crowded in the summer, so be sure get an early morning start to beat the crowds and heat.
There is an east entrance and a west entrance to the trail, located on opposite sides of Willow Creek. The east entrance is recommended to avoid a creek crossing, and this is where you will find parking at the Willow Creek Trailhead. One of the downsides of this trail is that it isn’t clearly marked. There are plenty of side trails that lead in different directions, so be prepared to double back a few times as you look for the main route to Angel Falls.
Once you reach this series of waterfalls, you will see why this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Bass Lake, California. With water cascading down the huge granite rocks, Angel Falls and Willow Creek make wonderful spots to relax on a hot summer day. There are natural rock pools surrounded by streams, perfect for taking a relaxing swim. Further down the hike you will also find the Devil’s Slide, a larger waterfall less visited, but also seemingly a bit more dangerous by the looks of it. The rock is smooth and slippery, and the rushing water makes it a bit risky to try and climb. Whenever you decide to visit this beautiful place, please remember to leave it the way you found it, and don’t leave any trash.
- Length of Trail: 3 mile loop
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
- Environment: Plenty of shade. Series of waterfalls and pools.
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Trail Clearly Marked: No
- Availability: Open all year
- Parking: Parking lot at the Willow Creek Trailhead
- Recommended gear: Hydroflask, small hiking day pack, first aid hiking kit (just in case), and a great camera. I use the lightweight Sony Alpha A6000 Mirrorless Camera and I love it.
Planning a Trip to Bass Lake?
- Check out my article on Things to Do in Bass Lake
- Get more tips, and photo inspiration from Visit California.
- Heading to nearby Yosemite? Be sure to check out my Ultimate Yosemite Valley Travel Guide or my list of 10 Things to Do in Yosemite Valley.