Jennie Lake is a pretty Sierra Nevada subalpine lake. It is not the
prettiest such lake, but it is pretty, and cool on a warm summer day,
and relatively easy to get to, and there are no backpacker quota
restrictions. This makes it a good place to go without much advance planning as well as a popular destination - it is not a hike for solitude.
The easiest way to reach Jennie Lake is from the Fox Meadow trailhead,
reachable via an unsigned dirt road (Forest Service Road 14S16) that
is drivable (slowly) for passenger cars. Other trailheads can be found at
the Big Meadows trailhead, on paved Forest Service Road 14S11, or
at Stony Creek Campground, just off the Generals' Highway. The Big
Meadows trailhead adds about 1.5 miles and 500 feet of elevation gain
to the hike described here; the route from Stony Creek has almost
1000' of extra elevation gain compared to this route.
From Fox Meadow, the well-graded trail winds through the forest on the
west slope of Shell Mountain and meets up with a junction where you
choose between Weaver and Jennie Lakes; shortly after this you enter
the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. The trail continues ascending through the
forest before curving around to the more open southern slope of Shell
Mountain. From here the trail continues its gentle ascent towards
misnamed Poop Out Pass, which is so gradual and gentle you don't
really notice you've gone over the pass until you start dropping.
A descent on an open stony hillside followed by a return to the forest
and soon enough you are at Jennie Lake. Campsites are most plentiful
along the north and west sides of the lake.
Return the way you came.
The listed route is the shortest route, with the least climbing, to Jennie Lake, but you can also use the Big Meadows or Stony Creek trailheads.
Water between the trailhead is seasonal and unreliable; carry enough to get you to the lake (5.5 miles one way.)
There are lots of campsites by Jennie Lake but it IS very popular!
As always with the Sierra, be prepared for bears. Bear canisters are NOT required but you are next to Sequoia, where hanging your food just makes the bear chuckle.