Palisade Basin-Eastern Sierra

Palisade Basin

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Palisade Basin Treasure Lakes Barrett Lake Willow Lake Birch Lake Unnamed Lake below Glacier Creek Palisade Creek Amphitheatre Lake Le Conte Canyon Big Pine Lakes Birch Lake Lower Palisade Lake Upper Palisade Lake Unnamed lake below Mather Pass

Suggested Flies for Palisade Basin area:
Eastern Sierra Hatch Selection
Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #16-18
Olive Caddis #16-18
Royal Wulff #16-18
Yellow Humpy #14
Griffith's Gnat #16-18

Nymph Flies:
Hare's Ear #16-18
Prince Nymph #16-18


Palisade Basin Directions

From South Lake Trailhead, hike to Bishop Pass, 5 miles distance with a gain of about 2000'. This is also the park boundary for Kings Canyon National Park. The trail drops down into Dusy Basin and proceeds to intersect the PCT trail within Le Conte Canyon at the Park Ranger Station. A distance of another 5 miles from Bishop Pass and a drop in elevation of 3,250'. Take the PCT downstream (South) to the confluence of Palisade Creek and MF Kings River, this is about 3.5 miles from the Ranger Station. Continue on the PCT up Palisade Creek, the campsite at Deer Meadow is about 6.6 miles from the Ranger Station. So, you are about 17 miles from the South Lake Trailhead.

Notes:Palisade Creek
Kings Canyon National Park encompasses the Palisade Basin. Prior to 1973, many of the streams and lakes were planted with trout. This practice had some drawbacks to the native biota such as amphibians. After 1988, all fish planting within the park was discontinued. Park streams and lakes were managed for a sustainable fishery. Those streams and lakes that could not support a fishery were allowed to go fishless. However, by 1990, it was evident that certain amphibians such as the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog (MYLF) had not recovered enough and a management plan was implemented to eradicate certain lakes and streams of non-native fish. By 2013, 15 lakes and ponds were eradicated of fish. Over the next 25 years, the Park intends to eradicate another 70 lakes, streams, and marshes to reach a 15% level of fishless habitat. Most of these fish removals are within the higher elevations of the park and many are fishless due to the unsustainability of fish within these waters due to lack of food source, lack of spawning grounds, and shallow depths lacking winter survival during freezing periods.

Barrett Lakes: (elevation 11,500') These lakes lie within the Palisade Basin. Most of the smaller lakes have been fishless due to lack of food source and shallow lake depths. The two larger lakes contain Rainbows and are scheduled for gill netting to restore the entire basin to native species only. The outflowing stream below these basin lakes will be treated with a piscicide to remove any Rainbows.

Palisade Creek: This creek contains Golden Rainbow Hybrids that average about 7 inches from the confluence of the MF Kings to just above the Deer Meadow area. The creek cascades down the Golden Staircase with little fishing opportunities but above the Staircase there are pools holding Golden Rainbow Hybrids and good fishing up to the Palisade Lakes.

Glacier Creek: This creek contains Rainbow Golden Hybrids in the 6-7 inch range within the lower portions near Palisade Creek.

Cataract Creek: This stream is also scheduled for piscicide treatment a half mile upstream above the confluence with Palisade Creek to Amphitheater Lake. The rest of the lakes within this basin are either fishless or have been physically removed. Amphithetre Lake will also receive a piscicide treatment.

Palisade Lakes: Two lakes (elevation 10,920 and 10,900). Both lakes contain Rainbow Golden Hybrids 7-10 inches.

Hiking to the Palisade Glaciers from SF Big Pine Creek, the trail reaches Brainerd Lake. Brainerd Lake is at 10,500' elevation and contains Brookies. If you bushwack upstream, you will reach the two Thumb Lakes which have Goldens at 11,500' elevation. Another lake, Finger Lake, at 11,500' elevation would also need to be bushwacked to reach containing Brookies.

Birch Lake: This lake at 10,950 elevation is accessed by the Birch Lake Trailhead south of Big Pine. Trailhead is not shown on this map. This lake contains Lahontan Cutthroats and Rainbow Trout.

Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)

Palisade Basin Lakes:

Open all Year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

All other lakes within John Muir Wilderness:

Open all Year. No restrictions. 5 trout per day. 10 trout in possession.

All creeks and tributaries:

From the last Saturday in April through November 15, five trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.


© 2021 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.