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Golden Trout Lake

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Golden Trout Lake

Postby Vaca Russ » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:01 am

We needed to get up to high elevation fast. So we decided to hike to Golden Trout Lake. We wanted to spend a couple of nights at altitude to acclimate for an upcoming climb.

I don’t remember ever seeing a TR about this trail so we thought we would share what we learned during our hike.

This lake sits at about 11,300 feet and is an over 2000 foot elevation gain in about two miles from the TH. We thought we could reach the lake after the long drive from Vacaville.

We left from the TH after obtaining our permit in Bishop.


You can see her hair blowing in the increasingly strong wind.

Our first objective was to climb to the top of this waterfall. The wind began to blow pretty steadily.

2 Waterfall.JPG

The gust became very hard the higher we climbed. We ran into this patch of snow at about 10,500 feet. We traversed across the snow on the way up. We crossed the stream and took a little use path on the other side to miss this patch on the way down.

3 Snow Block.JPG

This trail was not very well maintained. Sometime after the building of the trail a rock slide covered about a 200 yard section of the trail.

4 Boulder Blocked Trail.JPG

If you are a person who enjoys hiking on a trail and may not enjoy class two boulder hopping with a heavy pack on your back you should probably chose a different destination. The hike over these boulders is not a very pleasant experience. If you do want to scramble over the rock slide, I would recommend staying close to the creek. The rocks that are lower on the slide are a little easier to climb over.

5 Rock Slide.JPG

At this point the wind was blowing so hard we often had to stop walking just to keep our balance. The wind would catch our bodies and packs and use this as a sail in an attempt to knock us to the ground. The wind also helped chill us down a bit and sap our energy.

At about 10,900 feet we reached a pretty meadow. I was told we would be setting up camp and spending the night in this meadow. :)

6 Meadow.JPG

The next morning we finished our climb to the lake.

7 Lake with Dragon.JPG

That is Dragon Peak in the background. Sport took this picture from above.

8 Down on Lake.JPG

Soon we got down to what was important. The CDFW calls this particular lake Golden Trout Lake #1. They claim it has both Brook Trout and Goldens.

9 Sport Fishing.JPG

We didn’t see or catch any Brook Trout, but there were many, many small little stunted Goldens.

10 Golden.JPG

I find it pretty amazing these things can survive in an environment where the surface is frozen and covered in several tens of feet of snow for most of the year.

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Re: Golden Trout Lake

Postby schmalz » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:19 pm

Thanks for the post. I've always been curious about that trail. Seems like a decent spot for a quick overnight escape from LA. Anyone know if that rockslide is somewhat new?
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Re: Golden Trout Lake

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:35 pm

Thank you VR for the TR and pictures. :)


The landslide is mention in the description of the trail on Climber.org which was last
updated in Sept 2013, but have no idea when the slide happened.

The trail to Golden Trout Lake (GPS Route GOLDEN TROUT LK) starts just east of
the toilets, near waypoint ONIONT. The trail to Golden Trout disappears under a
boulder landslide and you'll have some rock hopping to do on your way to Dragon
or Kearsarge - there are use trails on both sides of the stream, and most people
end up crossing once or twice.
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Re: Golden Trout Lake

Postby Troutdog 59 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:43 pm

Nice report VR! I can assit on the timing f the rock slide. It wasnt there on my one visit in early June 1977 :D :p , but the lakes were all frozen so you had much better fishing than we did. Glad I could be of service :paranoid: :paranoid:
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Re: Golden Trout Lake

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jul 02, 2014 4:51 pm

Slide happened quite a while ago as I went through there about 10 years ago and was happy to see it since it obviously serves a purpose of eliminating the majority of trail hikers. Doubt the NFS will ever fix it and that is fine with this person as I like the notion of there being a few non-horse trails. This last week was up Convict Creek backpacking that has also been impassable to horses for several years now since its trail succumbed to the extremely loose metamorphic scree in that very steep landscape. Of course a flood took the trail bridge out to so it is now a rocky ford. For years horse packers had been carrying customers up to Dorothy Lake and the others but now only backpackers can get through but they ought not be afraid of unmaintained narrow crumbling trails on steep slopes.

Climbing up loose scree next to the waterfall is however where most likely turn back then change plans for Gilbert Lake. I did catch a nice sized golden in that lake but yeah even then most were pan sized. Nice destination for those hoping to be alone with good High Sierra scenery about.
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