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Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

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Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby oleander » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:18 am

I'm taking a friend up to the Sierra for a quick 2-day overnighter. I just learned that she will be climbing Whitney in a couple of weeks. So I'd like to expose her to altitude a bit. And yet she has limited time and prefers not to drive the 5-7 hours it would probably take to get from Oakland to any of the 10k+ trailheads.

I figure somewhere there must be some trailheads at 9000+ from which we could hike to 10k+, less than 4.5 hours away. Drawing a blank for some reason.

Sonora Pass is one. That's about 4.5 hours away. Tuolumne is about 4:15 from us and at 8600, that could work too. Saddlebag Lake or Kuna Crest, about 4.5 hours. Any others a little closer?

- Elizabeth
Last edited by oleander on Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby Jimr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:01 am

Take her from Road's End up Copper Creek to one of the Granite Basin lakes. That'll get her legs in shape as well.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby balzaccom » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:13 am

Except that it doesn't meet the immediate criteria of being close to the Bay Area.

Giannelli Trailhead in Emigrant Wilderness is closer than Sonora Pass by about half an hour---depends on how fast you drive the dirt road.
And I am not sure how long it takes you to get to Carson Pass---but you can hike up to Winnemucca and Round Top Lakes from there.

Closest/fastest? It's not quite 10,000 feet, but it's over 9,000: Climb Castle Peak of Highway 80, and then hike onwards to Paradise Lake. On the way back you can also climb Basin Peak.

And that's on the near side of Donner Pass...three hours max driving.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby old and slow » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:16 am

Another possibility, the Mono Pass/Parker Pass trailhead, just a little east of Tuolumne Meadows, starts at 9600 feet. You have to obtain a Yosemite wilderness permit, not too hard as this isn't one of the most popular trailheads in the Park. However, you can't camp until you reach the Ansel Adams Wilderness e.g just the other side of Mono Pass (10,620) at upper or lower Sardine Lake OR on the other side of Parker Pass (11,100).
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby oleander » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:45 am

Nice ideas all of them, thanks.

Yes, I'm long overdue to finally see Round Top and Winnemucca. And also Paradise Lake, which somehow I had never even heard of till this year.

Good to know about all the various options. Whichever ones we don't do this time around, can be stashed in the back pocket for an early-ish season acclimatizing weekend next year.

Roads End is approximately 5:15 from Oakland with no stops. Wolverton is closer, around 4:45 and that could get us up to Pear Lake, although the trailhead is below 8k.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby afahrland » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:05 am

Sonora Pass for sure. It takes me about 3:45 to get to the pass proper with no traffic. Gianelli is closer, but lower elevation. Way faster than Tuolumne or Kings Canyon.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:37 am

oleander wrote:Nice ideas all of them, thanks.

Yes, I'm long overdue to finally see Round Top and Winnemucca. And also Paradise Lake, which somehow I had never even heard of till this year.


If you haven't seen Carson Pass area to Round Top area, I highly recommend going there. It is very scenic and a great year round option from the Bay Area. It reminds me a bit of Lassen area, which although not Sierra, is also pretty convenient up I-505 and I-5 (high elevation backpacking is probably limited in Lassen though).

Tahoe options may be slightly closer if freeway traffic cooperates, but going with Carson Pass can get you away from Bay Area and Sacramento area traffic sooner. Sonora Pass is only a little farther and great, but has more significant curviness getting there and is stark for high elevation backpacking. Tioga Pass area gets much more traffic and, in theory, is about an hour farther than the passes to the north.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:07 pm

Having lived in the Bay Area for 46 years from 1959-2005, with the last 15 in Hayward I often thought of stuff like this.

Sonora Pass is certainly the closest and if you have high clearance you can add to it Sonora Pass option no. 2 which is Leavitt Lake.

I figure the 120 corridor in Yosemite has several options of which Dana Meadows (9600') offer the best options (see also the early August TR I did of a 3 day trip from there). The beauty of this is that it is easy to obtain the wilderness permit because the restriction of NOT being able to camp before the Ansel Adams Wilderness border (ie until leaving Yosemite) makes this a rather unpopular trailhead as mentioned above in Old and Slow's post.

You can also do some short overnighters from Tioga Pass (9940) to places like Gaylor Lakes, Granite Lakes etc. or from Lee Vining Creek (several kickoff points) to destinations just outside of the Hall Natural Area (you have to be outside of Hall Natural Area to camp). I would presume this trip isn't planned for Labor Day weekend. Things would be mighty crowded up there (Yosemite) Labor Day weekend but the crowds will thin dramatically afterwards.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:24 pm

giantbrookie wrote:
Sonora Pass is certainly the closest and if you have high clearance you can add to it Sonora Pass option no. 2 which is Leavitt Lake.


I don't mean to be that guy, but when driving from Oakland, Sonora Pass is not closer nor necessarily a faster drive than Carson Pass. Echo summit can be a faster drive than either. My caveat to my statement is that route choices, traffic, speed limits, driving style, and curviness will influence actual results. Actual conditions could make this an excercise in splitting hairs. Sonora Pass would also be roughest on a passenger and hardest to drive in non-nimble vehicles. However, it would be my personal first choice for my own preferences and is my usual route to the Eastside. Good point about Leavitt/Latopie area. I almost mentioned it myself, but still it is stark. Also, you make a good point about considering when, where, and how easily you will get a permit. If willing to deal with the crowds and fees before getting deeper in the backcountry, Tioga Pass area ideas mentioned can be worth a little longer drive. All would be fun.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:02 pm

seanr wrote:I don't mean to be that guy, but when driving from Oakland, Sonora Pass is not closer nor necessarily a faster drive than Carson Pass. Echo summit can be a faster drive than either.

Donner Summit is even closer, but none of the trans-Sierra roads north of 108 have trailheads at >9k elevation which is the original query.

When I lived in Hayward if I wanted to get somewhere really fast (<3 hrs) it was I-80 country (Grouse Ridge-Donner etc) or some of the kickoffs near Pinecrest, but none of these are 9k+.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:15 pm

I figure somewhere there must be some trailheads at 9000+ from which we could
hike to 10k+, less than 4.5 hours away. Drawing a blank for some reason.


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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:16 pm

Oh, I understand now. Carson Pass is not quite 9,000 feet and camp spots there are generally under 10,000 feet. That brings up a question. I, too, am sometimes in a similar position to the friend of the OP. In your experience, will that extra +/-1,000 feet in Sonora Pass area and +/-2,000 feet in Tioga Pass area make much difference for acclimatizing in anticipation of going to 13,000-14,000+ feet a week later? I'm trying to pay more attention to such details in my own experiences recently as I do get AMS at times and have tried most strategies besides diamox.
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