North Palisade - trailhead is nothing more than a parking lot, with a few storage lockers here and there as you can see in the
above photo. But the real beauty lies in what it leads to. The Big Pine Creek Trailhead provides access to some of the finest
scenery in the Sierra. From spring through most of the summer, you will pass by beautiful wildflowers, several lakes, beautiful
meadows, and spectacular views of Middle Palisade, Disappointment Peak, Mt. Agassiz, along with Mt Sill, Polemonium Peak,
North Palisade, Starlight Peak, Thunderbolt Peak, and several others once the Palisade Glacier is attained.
The Palisade group is the most alpine subrange in the
Sierra Nevada Mountains, and is certainly a mecca for climbers, hikers
and backpackers alike. As with most climbs on the Eastern Side of the Sierra's, we usually leave for the mountains after work on a
Friday, and drive to the trailhead in the evening, and spend the night at the trailhead parking lot as shown above and below. This
gives us some time to acclimate for altitude sickness purposes, and an early start in the morning.
North Palisade - Trailhead                                                                     timberlinetrails.net
 
 The North Fork of Big Pine Creek Trailhead is most easily reached by taking California
Highway 395 to the little Eastern Sierra town of Big Pine. From there, turn to the west on
Crocker Ave and head up the mountain about 9 miles or so. In the photo (above left), you will
see a sign marking the Hiker's Parking lot. Here is where you will need to park for overnight
excursions. There is also a day hikers parking lot further up a couple of miles but you are not
allowed to leave your vehicle there overnight. On a couple of trips, when we had a fairly large
group, we took everyone (along with their packs) to the day hikers parking lot. There we
dropped off the gear and all but one driver who drove back to the overnight parking lot down
below. The driver then hurried back up the road to re-join the group. This saves about a mile and
a half on the trail for all concerned. Both the overnight hikers trailhead and the day hikers
trailhead intersect a bit up the mountain, so in the end, you will get to your destination no matter
which trailhead you choose to take.
 Also notice the dry conditions at the trailhead during the summer months. Even though the
trailhead is at 7700 feet above sea level, the terrain on the Eastern Side of the Sierra during the
hot summer months can seem like desert. But after a few miles of hiking you will enter into a rich
forest area which will then give way to beautiful lakes and lush green meadows. Then, as you
continue your march up the slopes, you will eventually be greeted with a mass of snow and ice
which makes up the
Palisade Glacier.  It is the largest glacier in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains
  The makeup of this beautifully varied landscape is why North Palisade is
considered one of the finest alpine hiking and climbing areas in all the California Sierra Nevada
Mountains.