Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

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Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by steiny98 » Wed May 08, 2019 7:35 am

Hi all.

I am considering a route which takes me from Crabtree Lakes to the Kern Headwaters and Lake South America. In order to make this work, I'd need to tackle the route in one day. For measurement purposes I am assuming I begin at Crabtree Lake #2 (largest lake, second to the west of Crabtree pass) and make my way to Casper lake in the headwaters basin.

Route #1:
I follow the trail from Crabtree Lakes down to the JMT, then head west on a trail at Wallace Creek and then follow a trail adjacent to the Kern River north into the basin. This seems to be mostly downhill on the first half, and then mostly uphill on the second half once we hit the Kern.
15.68 Miles, +3,274', -3694'

Route #2:
I follow the trail from Crabtree Lakes down to the JMT, then head north until I pass Wright Lakes Basin/Tyndall Creek and catch a trail west, which intersects the top of the kern river adjacent trail into the basin headwaters. This route contains a lot of up/down elevation gain/loss.
15.67 Miles, +3,168', -3,558'

Have folks taken either of these routes before? Any preference? Thanks!








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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed May 08, 2019 8:51 am

I prefer #2, because it allows side-trips to Wallace/Wales or Wrights Lakes. From Wrights Lakes you can take Rockwell Pass to avoid backtracking to intersect the cross-trail to the Kern or go directly to Lake South America. Even if you stay on the trail, the views are better. But #2 will be more crowded. How are you ending your trip?- Shepherd Pass, over Forrester, or loop back?

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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by steiny98 » Wed May 08, 2019 9:00 am

Thanks WD.

Plan is to come in via cottonwood lakes, head over army pass, up miter basin and over crabtree pass, then along one of the two routes described to kern headwaters, and out via shepherd.

We only have 7 nights, so it is a tight timeframe; one in which I doubt we have time to detour through Wallace/Wales and/or Wrights Lakes. Although we are fishing focused, so that might alter our plans...

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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed May 08, 2019 9:35 am

That is a tight schedule! I have nearly the same trip planned, but am taking 11 days and doing a lot of side trips- Wallace/Wales, Wrights, Milestone, Casper Lake, Jordan, and if time left, a quick day-trip into Williamson Bowl on way out via Shepherd Pass. If I cannot get a permit in from Cottonwood, I will reverse the route.

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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by TurboHike » Wed May 08, 2019 1:40 pm

steiny98 wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 7:35 am
In order to make this work, I'd need to tackle the route in one day.

Any preference? Thanks!
If you need to tackle this in a day, I suggest route 2. Better trail, less chance of spending time of route finding. Also, crossing Tyndall Creek along the JMT should be easier than crossing where it flows into the Kern River. You didn't mention when you're going, but this is a high snow year.

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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by stringbop » Wed May 08, 2019 2:12 pm

Route 2 for sure. The trail that is adjacent to the Kern on Route 1 is rather dull with no views- all forested. The JMT option on Route 2 travels over Big Horn Plateau which has views every which way.

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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by maverick » Wed May 08, 2019 3:56 pm

Route 2 for sure. The trail that is adjacent to the Kern on Route 1 is rather dull with no views- all forested. The JMT option on Route 2 travels over Big Horn Plateau which has views every which way.
Exactly, also that trail has some nice small lakes and scenery along the way.
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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by giantbrookie » Wed May 08, 2019 11:14 pm

steiny98 wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:00 am
We only have 7 nights, so it is a tight timeframe; one in which I doubt we have time to detour through Wallace/Wales and/or Wrights Lakes. Although we are fishing focused, so that might alter our plans...
If fishing focused, it is a shame to fly right by Wallace and Wrights. I also recommend option 2, because it gives you the option to detour. I did a 9-day New Army-Shepherd (fishing focused) trip in 1996 which included some of the usual suspects from Miter Basin to Crabtrees to Wallace and vicinity to Wrights to Kern Headwaters and the "other basin" (one that doesn't have particularly large fish but it is the only basin with this species in the Sierra) on the way out. I can envision doing this route in 7 but one would have to move fast. Example: Miter on day 1, Crabtree on day 2, Wallace on day 3, Wrights on day 4, Kern Headwaters day 5, which gives you one extra day to play with to distribute to Kern headwaters or Wrights, or other stuff around Crabtree, or the basin that is not supposed to be mentioned, or... I guess if it was me I wouldn't script it for going Crabtree to Kern headwaters without the side detours.
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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by maiathebee » Thu May 09, 2019 10:10 am

steiny98 wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 9:00 am
Thanks WD.

Plan is to come in via cottonwood lakes, head over army pass, up miter basin and over crabtree pass, then along one of the two routes described to kern headwaters, and out via shepherd.

We only have 7 nights, so it is a tight timeframe; one in which I doubt we have time to detour through Wallace/Wales and/or Wrights Lakes. Although we are fishing focused, so that might alter our plans...
I vote route 2 if you stick to your original plan, but I'd advocate changing your plan to skip the Kern Headwaters on this trip and instead visit Wright Lakes basin that night, then go up over Rockwell pass to head out over Shepherd. The Kern headwaters area is really interesting and you'd have more fun there exploring with more time than you're likely to have after flopping down at camp at the end of a 15 mile +3k day.
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Re: Route Advice: Crabtree Lakes to Kern Headwaters/LSA

Post by steiny98 » Fri May 10, 2019 10:07 am

Thanks all! Sounds like staying up on the JMT is the way to go.

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