Of the 18 sub-alpine lakes contained within the Kaiser Wilderness, Nellie Lake is among the prettiest. It's also one of the most accessible thanks to a well-maintained trail that begins from the west end of Huntington Lake.
Your lungs will feel every inch of the elevation during the steep first mile as the trail climbs out of the Huntington Lake basin. The ascent becomes more gradual near Marys Meadow (stay left at the junction), which is a great place for a quick break.
After 3 1/2 miles, leave the Kaiser Loop Trail by veering left (west) on the Nellie Lake Trail, which crosses Home Camp Creek and skirts the north flank of Peak 9,198 before dropping into the Nellie Lake basin.
Nellie Lake (elev. 9,000 feet) has decent fishing for rainbows but is an even better place to contemplate the universe while kicking back on a granite slab. Adventurous types will want to scramble up the obvious peak northwest of the lake sometimes called Nellie's Nipple. From the summit, the entire Central Sierra stretches out for miles in every direction.
Allow 3 1/2 hours to reach Nellie Lake from the trailhead and an hour less for the return trip.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or 441-6218.