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Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

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Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby earlgrey » Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:18 pm

Hello all,

My wife and I will be backpacking in Sequoia this upcoming May and I would like to know a good trail. Out and back or loop is fine.

We are Level 3 with mainly experience in the Blue Ridge.
Comfortable with Class 3, max 10 miles a day, not hiking with a dog.
We are mainly interested in big mountain scenery, seeing the big trees and photography.

My first thought is to hike to Bearpaw as an out and back but if you guys know something better then I'd like to know!

Thanks.



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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby maverick » Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:48 pm

Hi Earlgrey,

Welcome to HST! Since you wrote 2 nights is that drive and hike the same day, or are you going to
camp at the trailhead and hike in for two nights?
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:04 pm

Camp at the trailhead? You can't. It's in a national park. A nearby campground, yes.

Bearpaw is a long push - more than 10 miles (11.5) and not necessarily a scenic place, especially if you stay in the backpacker camp which is shady and no views. A better choice would be the Alta trail, going out to Alta Meadows. It would afford you a chance to day hike up to Alta Peak. Views all the way from Panther Gap to the Meadow and more views of the Sierra crest from the peak. Higher elevation, and lots of exposure.

There may be mosquitos if the meadow is at all wet - but with the year looking to be so dry, that may not even happen. :(
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby chulavista » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:39 am

You will need to be flexible, because we won't know the snow conditions until mid-May. I would plan on two nights at Pear Lake with an "off-trail" day hike up above the lake to see the Great Western Divide (walk up permit). It is very cool to watch the sunrise from the Alta Peak area if you get going early. The whole thing could be done as a long day hike (or you could day hike Alta Peak on trails) if you want to maximize your time in the Giant Forest.

For a little more driving, physical effort and early season creek crossing danger, take Bubbs Creek trail out of Roads End in Kings Canyon and camp at the juction with the trail up to East Lake and Lake Reflection. Day hike to Lake Reflection from your camp. If 10 miles is really your max, this might be a bit too much.
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby earlgrey » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:16 pm

This will be driving to the trailhead and start hiking that day.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I am kind of bummed that Bearpaw isnt so great since they have a bar there with beer! Pear Lake and Alta Meadows/Peak look really cool. I dont think we could do a dayhike to Alta Peak from Pear Lake though as it looks like its 8+ miles one way, unless we bushwhacked it.

Where can you camp around Emerald, Pear Lake?
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:28 pm

So it's a good thing we caught you before you went, as they don't serve you in the bar or the restaurant unless you are staying in one of their expensive cabin tents. Everything comes into the camp on mules, so they are very limited in what they can offer people who are not staying at the resort.

Backpackers might get sold some very expensive wine if there's a surplus, and then you get to move over to the picnic tables in front of the ranger station to drink it, lest your sweaty bodies offend the guests.
Last edited by AlmostThere on Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:31 pm

earlgrey wrote:This will be driving to the trailhead and start hiking that day.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I am kind of bummed that Bearpaw isnt so great since they have a bar there with beer! Pear Lake and Alta Meadows/Peak look really cool. I dont think we could do a dayhike to Alta Peak from Pear Lake though as it looks like its 8+ miles one way, unless we bushwhacked it.

Where can you camp around Emerald, Pear Lake?


You camp in the designated campsites. It's very popular, so they limit it to numbered sites. There are pit toilets and bear lockers.

Alta from Pear Lake is all cross country in slab, boulder and scree. I know the route but usually navigate it from the top down. It's not eight miles, but to someone who doesn't do a lot of cross country it will feel longer. The trail route from Pear to Alta Peak is longer than eight miles.... One time we met a group of college kids going to Pear while we were going to Alta. We did the cross country route down from the peak and camped at Pear, while they were just up the hill at another campsite. We hiked out with them part of the way and discovered at the fork in the trail (Alta/Lakes fork) that they were traveling on trail all the way around to the peak, whereas we had done the seven miles to the peak and the three cross country miles downhill the day before.
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 27, 2015 10:31 am

I would look at Rowell Meadows trailhead and the hike to Jennie Lake or Seville Lake, if those roads are open.

For a day-hike, Mitchell Peak is one of the great day-hikes in the country, and could be accessed from a nearby trailhead as well.

And while "you can't camp at trailheads in the National Parks" there are fire rings, campground tables, and pit toilets at that trailhead, and ample evidence of people camping there in the past. Just sayin'.
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby mort » Fri Mar 27, 2015 1:52 pm

Hello!
I'm sorry if this sounds insulting, maybe one of the nicer forum users can make my point in a more polite way.
The highest point along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Mitchell, is a little lower in elevation than the Wolverton trailhead. You may not be prepared for the elevation and exposure you'll get in Sequoia.
This:
seeing the big trees
is a red flag for me. The big sequoias grow in groves of a few to about a hundred trees. The groves are all named and generally protected. The best groves have roads right to 'em. To see big trees you drive to Giant Forest, and walk around the big trees, or drive to Crescent meadow, or drive to Grant Grove. Etc. These trees are behind little fences. There won't be any big trees to camp under out on the trail to Bearpaw. But Redwood Meadow down in the Middle Fork canyon a few miles from Bearpaw. Lower in altitude than the back country and in a river valley, so not much in the way of mountain views. But you can sleep with the giants. http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/middle-fork-trail.htm My point is that there are no Sequoia groves in the high country.

The suggestions to cross-country up to Alta (elevation 11,027) are assuming a much higher level of experience than "Blue Ridge" implies to me. The trail out to Bearpaw is a bit bleak. It starts off very nice - piney forest. But it soon comes out on the exposed dry canyon face high above the Middle Fork. Other mentioned trails seem more scenic to me. The trail to Pear is strenuous, but the views, particularly from the Watchtower, are awe inspiring. The Pear lake area is very over used. Probably more like the Blue Ridge Parkway in fact. To me the nicest 2 day would probably start in Cedar Grove - Copper Creek or Roads End. Check out a map and ask some more questions.

-mort
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:00 pm

Good comments, Mort.

But Copper Creek? I wouldn't ever send anyone up that trail for a two day hike. One day straight up about 6,000 feet in seven miles, and then turn around to go back down again the next day? That's way too much work, and it wouldn't even get you to a nice lake or stream for a campsite....
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:51 pm

A good early season trip is to Paradise Valley from Roads End. There may be rules regarding where you can camp in Paradise Valley. There are established campsites at the end of the valley, just before the bridge. Day-hike to Castle Domes, or camp second night under Castle Domes if willing to do a long last day out. When I did this trip, there was no bridge and crossing the creek on half submerged logs was a challenge! This route has Mist Falls and good wildflowers.

I agree, Copper Creek is not a trail for a two-night trip unless you going up 5000 feet is OK with you. Granite Lakes are pretty as are the Volcanic Lakes. But it is not very feasible if you have to drive to the trailhead on Day 1. It takes a full day to get up to Granite Lakes.

To me, Bearpaw is not a destination. It simply is a stop on the way to a real destination, Hamilton Lake. I have hiked into Hamilton Lake in a day, several times, but if you limit yourself to 10 miles, it will not work. You could do Crescent Meadow to Buck Creek on Day 1, Hamilton Lake Day 2, and walk all the way out Day 3. But, again, more miles than you stated you are willing to do. I dispute the trial sign that says it is 16 miles to Hamilton Lake. Careful measuring on TOPO ends up with 13-14 miles. At any rate, it is a full day, but not a death-march day, particularly with a light pack.

If this drought keeps up, you may want to inquire about Mineral King. Not likely, but if the road is open, you can do good 3-day trips from that trailhead.
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:43 pm

mort wrote:Hello!

This:
seeing the big trees
is a red flag for me. The big sequoias grow in groves of a few to about a hundred trees. The groves are all named and generally protected. The best groves have roads right to 'em. To see big trees you drive to Giant Forest, and walk around the big trees, or drive to Crescent meadow, or drive to Grant Grove. Etc. These trees are behind little fences. There won't be any big trees to camp under out on the trail to Bearpaw. But Redwood Meadow down in the Middle Fork canyon a few miles from Bearpaw.


You can camp in Freeman Grove, in the Belknap complex, and several other groves outside national parks and wilderness areas up the 198. Those are not necessarily all two day trips with backpacks, tho. There are plenty of groves all over the place up there, some of them on private land tho.

You can also hike up to Garfield-Hockett off a trailhead near Three Rivers, into the park, but that's low and poison oak is all over the place before climbing steeply into the grove - probably hot if you start too late as well.

You can visit the Case Mountain grove. That's BLM property and it's one of the bigger "unknown" groves out there. Right off this unassuming pullout on Mineral King Road well before the gate. But, that's a pretty steep climb, and you'd have to know where to get water, so not recommended for someone going without a local or a hand annotated map.

There's some groves in Sequoia National Forest - a couple of off trail ones, out off Big Meadow Road. Not easy to find.

But the nicest easy little backpack in Kings Canyon that takes you down into the biggest grove of all would be Redwood Canyon. There's no road into the grove and the two miles off the main highway are unpaved. No fires allowed, ever, but there's a 10 mile loop trail with a mild climb up the ridge, dropping down into the canyon where you can find campsites along the creek, then the next day you can hike the other side of the loop and visit neat things like the cabin made out of a Sequoia. The flowers are probably blooming right now. Dogwoods are in buds. Get your permit at Grant Grove Visitor Center. There might be patchy snow on the shaded parts of the road, but even if it's still closed the road is only a couple miles to walk.

The suggestions to cross-country up to Alta (elevation 11,027) are assuming a much higher level of experience than "Blue Ridge" implies to me.


I was not suggesting - I was informing. The mileages in play were not what the OP assumed. I'm pretty sure the OP already decided not to do it before I posted anything.
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