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Camping recommendation for SEKI

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Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:26 pm

Hey all..I am looking for some suggestions for camping in SEKI for mid-August. My wife and I are flying into LAX and are looking for a campground to meet up with some friends who will already be in the area. By the time we get our luggage/rental, etc, we will likely not be on the road from LA until around 4 pm...so we are looking to keep our drive no more than 4-5 hrs. Our friends we will be meeting will be at the camp spot early on Saturday, so all we'll really be doing is showing up whenever we get there. I've looked on recreation.gov and it looks like the only reservable campgrounds in the park that have availability for the days we need are Eshom, Ten Mile, and Limestone. It looks like Limestone would be the quickest to get to from LA, but seems to be kinda stuck out there by itself (which I guess could be a good thing for less crowds). Would anyone recommend one of these over another? Or are there other options in the area?

Thanks much!!

**Updated: So it appears that there are a number of other forest service campgrounds in Sequoia Nat'l Forest which would be a little closer..so i think we'd rather shoot for one of those. Any recommendations for a campground in the Western Divide(Coy Flat and Quaking Aspen has availability) or Kern River Ranger District?
Or even dispersed camping? Would like something within a short drive of campground to a trailhead with some nice day hiking (preferably with lesser crowds if possible).



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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:36 pm

Was also thinking the east side would be an option (Horseshoe Meadows or Onion Valley)..just not sure we'd wanna go straight to 10,000 ft.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby SSSdave » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:49 pm

You didn't mention any interests? Of course many people car camping just want to sit around with friends in pleasant cool shady surroundings and relax with their friends. On the other hand this is an enthusiast community of people that hike and backpack.

So as a back-up idea, here are links to the most under utilized public camping in the Southern Sierra primarily because not many people know about it and there are no big fishing lakes. Camping fee is just $5 or free per night that is uncommon in this era and walk up sites would be certain.

http://www.fire.ca.gov/resource_mgt/res ... tnhome.php

http://www.tularecountytreasures.org/mo ... est-v.html

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.24722,-118.64788&z=14&t=T

Sites were nicely built decades ago old style, very shady in sequoia groves. A fine place for a group to kick back peacefully without a need to drive around to scenic sites. Hiking into the backcountry is rather limited to the trail up North Fork. If you want somewhere with alpine scenery or good hiking, you can do better elsewhere.

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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:52 am

Thanks David!
Yeah, I guess I should have included our intentions. While this is mostly a "catching up" with old friends, we would also like to do a nice day hike (~15 mile round trip) into the backcountry. This will be a short visit (2 nights with one day in between) so we'd like to make the most of our 1 day hike (and not have to drive too far to the trailhead from camp) and get into some beautiful scenery.
Thanks!!
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby MountainMinstrel » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:47 am

Big Meadows has many free Campgrounds and as it is in the Jenny Lakes Wilderness you can also disperse camp if everything else is full. You could dayhike to Jenny Lakes or Mitchell Peak and it is not far from Lodgepole and several other trailheads.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:34 pm

Thanks for the suggestion! Big Meadows looks like a great area and I've heard alot of good things about Jenny Lakes. I'm guessing that these free campgrounds are not reservable. Logistically speaking, it would probably be best if we had a campground with a reservation to use as a meeting spot since we'd be getting in rather late in the day (early evening) while our friends will be there early...looks like it could be closer to a 5 hr drive from LAX to Big Meadows?

Also, I'm not sure how well it would go trying to find each other without a meeting spot (cell reception, etc.). Though I think my wife and I may check out Big Meadows after we split up with our friends as this will be the start of a 2 week adventure around southern Sierra.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Sun Jun 21, 2015 4:04 pm

So are the hiking options better in the Hume Ranger District? I am leaning towards Quaking Aspen only because it is a little shorter drive from LA. However, from what I've read there are not as many options for a nice day hike. I'm not that interested in short hikes along paved paths (ie. trail of 100 giants)..especially having to deal with the crowds.

I am not opposed to driving a little farther to get up in the Hume Ranger District if there are better hiking options. So let me ask this...If there is one day hike you could do (15 mile roundtrip max) in the Seq Nat'l Forest what would you choose? Would love to be able to get up to a high alpine lake...and big trees would be a nice bonus!
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:34 pm

A lot of the hikes along the Western Divide are going to be nice, but less of the high Sierra big views. There are loads of sequoias and some trailheads going into Golden Trout Wilderness. I have been up there in spring but since I don't do well in heat, I head to higher elevations in summer. The smaller streams in GTW will be dry and there aren't so many lakes.

If I were meeting someone in SEKI I would tell them to go to a specific spot that they could get directions to, and have a window of time when they should be there. In the case of Big Meadows, I would tell them to turn off the main highway up the Big Meadows road, and turn right into the first picnic area they find (there is one just a quarter of a mile in) and look on the back of the pit toilet for a note with specific directions to the campsite I chose, using a mileage from my odometer between there and the spot. If using one of the Big Meadows campsites, you could easily say, first loop, second loop, third loop - they are small loops.

Another option would be to get a campsite and then go to Lodgepole and use the pay phone to call and tell them. It adds some driving, but then, there is a store and laundromat and showers there...

I have actually done this before - I left a note in a specific spot, and then gone to the pay phone and called. The voicemail worked, the note did not, but we had not arranged in advance that a note would be left. We had planned on camping at Big Meadows but there were empty campsites at Lodgepole so decided to stay closer to -- well, okay, I was going to say showers, but cold beer from Mammoth Brewing was the real draw. We didn't have ice chests and were staying the night prior to a week of backpacking.

The campsites at Big Meadows are free, but there are notices posted there indicating that it's under discussion to place fees on them. Probably no more than $12 per night, as they are not so developed as to have running water and that's the usual fee for NF campgrounds like that. And there are plenty of pullouts with fire rings along the road on the way to Big Meadow, as well as a small free campground accessible by turning left on the Buck Rock Lookout turnoff, which is next to the horse camp.

I would suggest Dorst, but I understand it will be closed again this year due to the drought.

If you would like superlative high Sierra scenery, good day hikes would be the Lakes trail or the Alta trail (forks of the trail from Wolverton). If you want sequoias, the Giant forest can become a 9-12 mile hike, if you wander enough. If you are feeling really ambitious climb to Alta Peak from the junction instead of going to Alta Meadow - 11,000 feet and a view on a clear day of Mt Whitney to the east. Hiking up to Twin Lakes and climbing Silliman Pass would be another nice hike.

It also isn't hard to get campsites in the park's grounds - unless it's a holiday. SEKI is nothing like Yosemite. I've come to prefer backpacking there for that reason.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:03 am

Thanks much AT!! As always, your suggestions are very helpful! I like the idea of a specified spot to leave more detailed directions. So what are the chances of getting a spot at Big Meadows? We will be arriving on Saturday in mid-August. Also, it sounds like we shouldn’t have a problem finding a pullout or potentially Buck Rock campground? If there is good chance that we’d get a spot somewhere in this area it’s probably the way we’d go. Just don’t want to have my friends driving around too aimlessly.

Also, you mentioned that it isn’t hard to get campsites in the park’s grounds..so do they have a number of first come/first serve spots as well? Or do folks just reserve and not show? It seems like most are booked up for the days we’ll be there.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby sparky » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:58 pm

You are hitting LAX @ 4pm and you want a 4 to 5 hour drive? Good luck....Friday traffic can double your commute times through the city also.
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Re: Camping recommendation for SEKI

Postby markley » Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:28 am

I'm getting in at 1:30 pm on a Saturday..allowing a few hours to get out of the airport and leaving with the rental.
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