Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite? | High Sierra Topix  

Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:18 pm

I'm helping my aunt and uncle to brainstorm a place they can go in the Sierra (or reasonably beyond the Sierra), where they can "get into the granite" that they so love - yet at the lowest altitude possible.

They are 88 and 84 years old. They've been backpacking all of their lives, and are legions more experienced than I am. But they have physical limitations. They used to bop around places like the Muro Blanco or Ionian Basin without a care in the world, but now, in addition to slowing way down, they are having bad reactions to altitude starting at about 7500-8000 feet.

So the other requirement, owing to limited mobility, is that the approach is short (~3 miles is ideal), as well as reasonably "even" (not too many really big steps up) for shuffling feet.

Of course, they want "solitude" too. That seems impossible, given the above limitations; but I thought I'd throw it out there. They are willing to drive a long way from the Bay Area. And they can go mid-week.

I was all set to plan a trip to Trinity Alps, where the granite is at ~5000 feet. But the Canyon Creek approach that I'm familiar with is way too far (about 8-10 miles to reach the granite).

Desolation Wilderness has granite under 8000 feet, but I think they might reject this idea out of hand owing to the crowdedness of that place. Unless we can think up a very gentle x-country trip.

- Elizabeth



User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby maverick » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:05 pm

When Elizabeth?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8033
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:12 pm

Does it have to be backpacking? You can see some pretty impressive granite from Yosemite Valley, and that's around 4,000 feet! Hetch-hetchy has some granite as you head over to Wapama Falls...and that trail is quite flat. But the nearest legal campsites are six miles in.

Lots of stuff around Echo Lake and Donner pass...but those are much higher--over 7,000 feet.

The trail to Clarks Fork off Highway 108 does give you some nice views of the Iceberg (which is a huge chunk of granite) and is around 5,000 feet. And I think you can camp within a couple of miles of the trailhead there along the creek. But you will see dayhikers.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:35 pm

Trailhead? Away from crowds? Scenic? Any place that low that is a trailhead would be down in a hole without views. Views not too important? What about a river view in a canyon? Heck drive out here then backpack down to Poison Meadow:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.30714,-118.97905&z=15&t=T

But best in June when all the little granite flat plants are green and flowery and not any later. A place only likely to see a few day hiking fishermen.

You need to think out of the box. Forget about backpacking on trails. OK, not places to visit in the summer when it is ugly hot dry and brown but rather May when the below sagebrush enviroment vegetation is green and flowery with bees about and visitors still scarce.

Alabama Hills at 5k elevation is all granite. Interleaved by total mazes of dirt roads that one can always find secluded spots. Most of the smaller roads are not even on the topo. Want to "backpack" into granite a short ways? Go to the crosshairs of this spot.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.59939,-118.12723&z=19&t=H

A little flat up in the granite just a short distance from a dirt road that isn't on the map. Nice view of Lone Pine Peak and even Whitney.

Nearby the Lone Pine Campground on the creek has views of Mount Whitney. Of course mountain above look nicely snowy then too.

After that want more granite in June? Again no backpacking but yeah easy hiking and scenic. Point Lobos State Reserve midweek. Then go sit on the beach at adjacent Carmel River State Beach just north of Monestary Beach that again is granite with wonderful white clean sands, one of a very few such granite beaches on the Pacific Coast.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:51 pm

Timing is approximately June 20 to August 20. They look after their grandson, so can't do it during the school year.

One that just crossed my mind is Carr Lake Trailhead off Donner Pass. It's at 6600, and there is a nice granite lake about 2 miles in. I haven't camped there, but I've walked past it and taken note.

I forgot to mention, they prefer a 3-day trip. Hike in; lay over; hike out.

So far, all the ideas mentioned in the replies are ones that had not occurred to me. I had never heard of Poison Meadow. Keep it up with the out-of-the-box ideas, everybody.

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby cmon4day » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:06 am

Waterhouse Lake in Emigrant. The TH is at 8100 and its 2 miles down to the lake which is at 7500. Sits in a granite bowl.
User avatar
cmon4day
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 213
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:08 pm
Location: Dublin, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby paul » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:10 am

Your mention of Carr lake is just what came to mind for me - Island Lake is a nice spot in that regard, easy to get to and lots of granite around. But you must go mid-week or it's crowded.
If you take the boat across Echo that gets you a shorter hike but there are a lot of people. If you co off-trail across the dam at Aloha and a short cross-country to Waca lake it's major granite and nobody around, but that might be too far for them.
User avatar
paul
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 442
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:35 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:17 pm

Island Lake! I was trying to remember the name of that lake. It was very pretty.

Where can one find level and legal campsites around that lake? Best ways to access them? I remember that lake being off and downhill from the trail. I would want the gentlest access for shuffling feet.

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby oleander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:22 pm

This thread will be a great reference for early-season trips, in general.

For instance, I've been to Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, but had never heard of that low-altitude trailhead accessing the Iceberg (nor even about the existence of the Iceberg itself).

- Elizabeth
User avatar
oleander
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 325
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:15 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:50 pm

We actually have a section of our website for early season hikes. In Carson_Iceberg, the best one is probably Sword Lake...But of course there's the Hetch-hetchy trailhead in Yosemite, and in the springtime, don't forget Hite Cove on the Merced River!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1288
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:13 pm

Whereas the Carr Lake/Grouse Ridge area is an excellent lower altitude Sierran backcountry destination it isn't so much "granite" as it is mostly metamorphic rock crowning the high ridges. Island L. is in fact ringed by granitic outcrops. For nice, lower altitude backcountry, I think Lakes Basin has a lot of possibilities (many lakes of elevation range 5800-6500' and many short hikes) and the scenery is a bit nicer, I think, although it is entirely metamorphic. Rocks are more strictly granitic in the area of French Lake and perhaps most prominently in the area of Old Man Mtn. although one needs 4WD to get to some of the hiking takeoff points (and to minimize hiking distances).

One of the very nicest places to hang out in granitic country around I80 if you don't care about fishing is what are known (not named on maps) as the "Glacier Lakes" (elev 6900-7000) near Sterling Lake (this is S of Fordyce Lake and N of I80). In its heydey when it was air dropped this was place I called the "Land of the Giant Brookies", but all the lakes are fishless now. They can be reached by a very short (1-2 mi) hike from Sterling L. which is itself accessible by a passenger car drivable gravel road. These little lakelets sit among granite slabs and are quite scenic. These little gems see very few visitors (this was true even when they held big trout).

The NW flank of Desolation Wilderness out of Loon Lake is in rounded granitic country <7000' elev (in the 6300-6900' range). The problem is that you need to walk quite a bit to get to the first campsites, even if it requires minimal elevation gain. This is also the issue with Hetch Hetchy, as noted earlier by balzaccom. Kibbie L. of NW Yosemite is in wonderfully massive granite country, and is only 6800' elev. but it does require 4.5 mi to reach.

An overlooked scenic granitic spot is Gold Lake in Bucks L. Wilderness in the northernmost Sierra (note this lake is also fishless). It sits in a very scenic cirque at the base of granitic cliffs at an elevation of around 5900' and it is reached by a short 1 mi trail from Silver Lake. There are some choice wildflower fields here including the best camassia I've seen in the Sierra.

In my opinion, the Klamath Mtns are still the way to go for rugged granitic scenery at lower altitudes. Castle Crags probably gets you into serious granite with the least hiking and there are many short hikes in Trinity Alps and Russian Wilderness. An example in the latter is Taylor Lake (Russian Wilderness) is at 6500' and is reached by a trail of 1 mi or less with virtually no elevation gain. Bingham L. is a bit higher (about 7000') and the trail crests a bit higher (about 7200) but it is a very scenic place (hike is about 1.5 mi one way). In the Trinity Alps, there are the Boulder Lakes in the NE part of the wilderness (hiking distances of about 2 mi from trailhead and elevations in the 6100-6300' range. The Castle Crags are the lowest in elevation of this region but the Crags proper do not have lakes. Scenic short dayhikes can be had from very close to I5 and elevations are in the 3100-4800' range. For short hikes to scenic lakes there places like Cliff Lakes (short hike or short 4WD) and the Seven Lakes Basin, although these might not be in granitic rocks.
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
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Location: Fresno
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Lowest-altitude trailhead that will pop us into the granite?

Postby paul » Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:51 pm

Island lake campsites - south end of the lake there's a peninsula with a big well-used site, fire ring and several tent spots, in the trees. If coming from Carr Lake you go past the junction that heads north to Crooked & Penner lakes, over a little rise and down, then slightly back up and head off to your left into the trees. North end has easy to get to sites out on the rocks but that has no shade and you'll want shade most trips.
User avatar
paul
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 442
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:35 pm
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Sierra00 and 13 guests