The trail from Virginia Lakes over the pass to Summit Lake is spectacular. It climbs up from the trailhead at about 9800 feet past six or more lakes, and eventually gets over 11,200 feet on the slopes of Black Mountain. And that's the easy part.
From the top, you have views of Virginia Peak, Summit Lake, and the rest of the area, as you can see in the photo at right.
The next section plunges straight down into the canyon where the Green Lakes trail comes in, and this section goes through some of the most dramatic geology and scenery we've seen in the Sierra.
The trail perches on the side of a cliff as it descends, and therein lies of bit of a problem. Because while the scenery is stunning, your feet need all the help they can get to follow this trail. Eyes downward, you hike down the trail, in danger of missing all the great views.
The solution is to stop every once in a while and take a look around. Towering peaks, azure lakes, and precipitous slopes are seen in every direction. Once you've taken them in, you can set your eyes back on the trail, and keep walking.
Of course, climbing up the other way isn't as much of a problem. In that case, you will stop often to catch your breath....and catch sight of the scenery at the same time.
That's M at left, pausing just a moment to take in the view of Excelsior Peak and other sights, as she climbs along the edge of the cliffs on the way up the pass.
Not to be missed!