Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes? | High Sierra Topix  

Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

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

Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby lauralai627 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:49 am

My husband and I are so excited to be heading out for a six-day trip later this week. Here's our itinerary:

Day 1 - enter at the Pine Creek trailhead, camp near Honeymoon Lake or in Granite Park (if we make it that far)
Day 2 - fish Granite Park, hike Italy Pass (bag Mt. Julius Caesar - weather, time, and legs permitting), cross Dancing Bear Pass and camp somewhere in Bear Lakes Basin, possibly near Big Bear Lake
Day 3 - fish the basin, probably camp in the same spot or head down to Merriam Lake
Day 4 - Merriam Lake to Royce Lakes, possibly bagging Royce Peak in the process
Day 5 - either stick around at Royce for another night and suffer a big Day 6 or head back over towards Golden Lake or Birchim Lake
Day 6 - head back out of Pine Creek, hit the Whoa Nellie Deli and head home

Does anyone have suggestions for great campsites or other tips related to this route? We're looking for solitude, beauty, and great fishing. We also have an extra night to play with between entering Bear Lakes Basin and exiting Royce Lakes. We could either stay another night in the Basin (near the Bear Lakes or down at Merriam Lake) or spend two nights at Royce. I've read a few different trip reports but would love any additional tips on can't miss campsites, lakes, or fishing spots.

Thanks!



User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby rlown » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:29 am

It's a great plan.. When you get to a place you want to stop to camp, drop the pack and look around. Pick your site based on what you see. It works out very well. If you're comfortable with doing that trip, then you already know the drill. You don't need guidance or assurance. Trust what you know.

Looking forward to your TR when you return.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5328
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby BigMan » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:59 am

You'll find great sites on the north side of Big Bear Lake.

My friend and I did this as an 8-night trip two years ago, but instead of going over Feather Pass to Merriam, we went over Granite Bear Pass to Royce.

We spent two nights at Big Bear, two at Vee Lake, and two at Royce. All worth it. Can you add days to your trip? The time you've allocated to these spectacular areas is a bit too brief in this backpacker's opinion.

We also spent the last night at Birchim and, while it wasn't a highlight, enjoyed the solitude, the fine sandy beach on the eastern shore, and the close proximity to the exit trailhead.

We stayed "in" the "V" at Vee Lake:
Attachments
Morning at Vee Lake.jpg
In wilderness lies the hope of the world.
User avatar
BigMan
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 2:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby robertseeburger » Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:52 pm

Just a comment on departure day. It is really quite easy to camp at Royce Lake number 4 ( the big one) and go over Royce pass ( only 100 foot of elevation gain) and get down to the trailhead. All downhill, and really class 1, not even class 2. Good use trail for part of the way that connects to the Italy pass trail at
the creek crossing above Honeymoon lake. I did the easy downhill hike in four hours a couple years ago. Last day of trip.
User avatar
robertseeburger
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:53 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby SSSdave » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:01 pm

One of our favorite activities on our backpacking adventures is after arriving at destinations, looking for a best campsite and that process often takes a half hour or so. Thus we are not like the majority that plunk wearily down at one of the first obvious camp spots that are usually where trails first meet destination lakes or right atop water sources. I just returned from a 10 day backpack up Pine Creek into Granite Park, Royce Lakes, and upper French Canyon. And have been to those places multiple times in the past. Have also visited the East Fork of Bear Creek basin several times over the decades. Only six days for that itinerary IMO is a formula for a beater trip with inadequate time to actually enjoy those special places. Thus would recommend eliminating going over Italy Pass.

Although only 4 miles, Pine Lake at 9942 feet is a moderately strenuous 2500 feet above the trailhead. Camp spots are along the west side of the lake with mediocre views with the 2 primary used sites less than the policy 100 feet minimal from lake edges. Upper Pine Lake at 10190 used camp sites likewise offer mediocre views from the west side of that lake. Honeymoon Lake at 10410 is very heavily used especially by horse packing groups. It is an above average lake aesthetically but while heavily advertised as a very scenic destination IMO rates well down versus other locations in the basin. The best place I've found among those lower basin areas is a bit downstream of Upper Pine Creek on the east side of the creek at the base of an open granite bedrock slab area at these crosshairs:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.34693,-118.73190&z=15&t=T

Virtually no groups use that area because the trail routes on the other side of a low rib where one cannot see or hear the creek. Views of the face of the avalanche chutes of the cliff face due east are impressive as is peak 12245 to the north I call the Wizard's Castle. One also has clear views of peaks of the upper basin. The water temperature in the creek out of shallow Upper Pine Lake is not cold at all thus a pleasant way to wash away trail exertions and then lay out on warm smooth polished rock where no others are about.

In any case the good views don't begin till one reaches the beautiful green turf bench with ponds at 11000 feet where peak 12563 is quite impressive. Many places to camp at that are almost never used. But I camped there last week on my second day. The real world class views start once one reaches 11300 feet in middle Granite Park. There is superb camp spot at 10340 on the south side of the creek that I've used on 3 trips. The trail is on the north side of creek and inefficiently goes up and down several times adding 200 feet unnecessarily. Lots of pan sized golden trout all about the stream and several no name ponds. One lake in the upper basin has rainbow trout and another has some larger golden trout. The large wonderfully green and flowery turf meadow above 11560 has more world class views and lots of pan sized goldens. Areas above 11600 towards Italy Pass are relatively boring barren glacially smooth bedrock covered by lots of small boulders.

Royce Lakes a favorite of climbers are mostly treeless barren tundra rock-scapes like that of Italy Pass. Far more green flowery, pleasant, with superior views of surrounding peaks are the lakes on the two French Canyon lake benches. Also tons of fish with lots of lake options. Last week there were significant expanses of lupine at peak bloom and the extensive turf meadow flowers were peaking.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby steiny98 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:06 am

Can't speak about this route from personal experience, but you might find this trip report (link below) helpful for some of the areas you will visit.

http://ladyonarock.com/2015/03/08/bear-lakes-basin/
User avatar
steiny98
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 9:33 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby lauralai627 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:21 am

Thanks to all of you for your advice! I really appreciate all of the tips and Unfortunately, we couldn't take more than six days for this trip even though it would be great to stay a few more days. We hadn't heard about Granite Bear Pass but it looks like it could be a good alternative to Italy Pass. I think we'll try to spend two nights in the basin, two nights at Royce and just plan on a longer final day back to the trailhead. I'll be back with a trip report soon!
User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby bbayley80 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:55 am

Lauralai.
when do you head out?
I'm doing the same-almost exactly actually- as you and your husband August 10-15.

it'll be just me..so i won't blow your solitude ;)

I've 'flown'/explored the route thoroughly on Google earth and dug through many trip reports on HST and i agree with Big Man

BigMan wrote:You'll find great sites on the north side of Big Bear Lake.


thats where i plan to spend night two and three..so i guess i'll have to beat you two there ;)
obviously i won't camp there should you be there first..

enjoy your trip! and perhaps i'll bump into the two of you.
User avatar
bbayley80
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:46 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby lauralai627 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:07 am

bbayley80 wrote:Lauralai.
when do you head out?
I'm doing the same-almost exactly actually- as you and your husband August 10-15.


Hey bbayley, we're hitting the trail on Thursday the 10th. I'll keep an eye out for you in the Basin - don't hesitate to say hello and don't worry too much about crowding us. There's plenty of space out there! Out of curiosity, are you planning on doing Italy Pass or Granite Bear?
User avatar
lauralai627
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby BigMan » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:21 pm

Italy/Dancing is probably the easier way IN to Bear Lakes, especially if you're not yet acclimated and are carrying heavy packs. It's much easier to ascend GB from the west and descend its eastern side.

That being said, I can't imagine GB Pass to be that difficult from the east, especially if you're in great shape and feeling good.

You'll see Granite Bear Pass from Granite Park; you can decide then. Here's how it looked to us in Sep. 2014. There's almost certainly more snow on it right now. You'll want to be to the right of the snow in this pic.
Attachments
DSC03181.jpg
Last edited by BigMan on Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
In wilderness lies the hope of the world.
User avatar
BigMan
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 2:17 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Campsite/other recs for Bear Lakes Basin / Royce Lakes?

Postby bbayley80 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:29 pm

ok cool!

lauralai627 wrote:don't hesitate to say hello and don't worry too much about crowding us. There's plenty of space out there!


ill for sure say hello.
agreed! lots and lots of beautiful space.

lauralai627 wrote:Out of curiosity, are you planning on doing Italy Pass or Granite Bear?


i plan on taking Italy Pass, hopefully bag Julius Caesar as you two plan, and then over to Dancing Bear and down into Bear Lakes Basin.

heres a good TR on Granite Bear I've read through. similar route to ours. i see Big Man already replied with some good beta..

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14185&p=105768&hilit=granite+bear+pass#p105768

and it seems much more direct than Italy but has a steepish sandy/loose small talus bit towards the top of the east side that didn't really inspire me..the west side however appears to be very straightforward..


see you out there!
User avatar
bbayley80
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:46 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bill Carson, Bing [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], playero1 and 8 guests

cron