Mirror Lake and Tinkham Peak
This is a view from Mirror Lake’s southern shore. On a sunny day the lake is a pretty aqua color, it’s impossible to tell from this low perspective in such a shallow area. The other side of the lake in that low forested saddle is where the trail first arrives and junctions with the Pacific Crest Trail. Mirror Lake is scenic from most any vantage point but I had us come over here (the Pacific Crest Trail rounds the eastern shore) because I like how Tinkham Peak looms over the lake, the full subalpine character of this mellow little lake (an elevation of 4195 feet) seems to really come out. If you’re curious about where the best camping spot is, it’s probably on the northwest side of the lake. There’s a tall rock bench above the water that offers a bird’s eye view of the lake basin. But for my money, I just like the mountain view from this side.
Having been up to Mirror Lake makes me want to visit the top of Tinkham again one of these days. When I did it last, there was one brief section of ledges that gave me sweaty palms but other than that it was a steep but easy little hike.
Cottonwood Lake, 8 acres, is a half mile (and couple hundred feet below) down the trail from Mirror Lake. We didn’t bother stopping there on our way up to Mirror. It’s a pretty lake but marshy and I only spotted one obvious campsite there. There wouldn’t be too much to do around Cottonwood, the shore is brushy. There’s a ridge north above the lake that might be a fun place to explore off-trail. There’s another way of looking at it: Mirror is only a half mile away. You could let everybody else talk themselves to sleep there while you fall asleep at ‘ol Cottonwood to the sound of frogs.