Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

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!
Post Reply
User avatar
earth_materials
Topix Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:51 pm
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker
Location: California

Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by earth_materials » Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:23 pm

Good Afternoon,

This summer (last week of August) we are considering an East-west hike from Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow. The proposed route is Kearsarge to the Bubb's Creek Trail, then connecting with Avalanche Pass Trail @ the Sphinx bridge, followed by a trip through Deadman's Canyon/Elizabeth Pass, finally exiting via the beginning leg of the HST.

Has anyone done a similar route, or suggest alternatives? At the moment our best shot of getting a permit will be for the final week of August. We are by no means novice hikers, we travel light, and were aiming to make this a 5-6 day route (side trips to Rae, Hamilton, or Tamarack included). We completed the HST in its entirety back in 2018 and wanted to "try something new."

Open to any and all suggestions/thoughts. Thanks!








User avatar
TurboHike
Topix Regular
Posts: 131
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:10 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by TurboHike » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:46 pm

Sounds like a fun trip! Upper Deadman Canyon has great views, as does Elizabeth Pass and Tamarack Lake. If you have time at the end of the trip, you could go over Horn Col and visit Lonely Lake. If you wanted to do something entirely different than before, skip the HST from Bearpaw to Crescent Meadow and instead go over Pterodactyl Pass and exit through the Tablelands to Pear Lake and into Wolverton. This is off trail and will require some route finding.

I will say that the the Bubbs Creek and Avalanche Pass portions of you planned trip are not the most scenic IMO. They are great, no doubt, but not as spectacular as other parts of SEKI. A more scenic route, but a little longer, would go over Forester Pass, then up to Lake South America, south through the Upper Kern Basin, continue south along the Kern River, then head west up towards Colby Pass, maybe a side trip up into Milestone Bowl, onto Colby Lake, down to Roaring River, and exit Roads End. Just my two cents. Whatever you decide, have fun!

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4963
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:10 pm

In August, if it is typical, the stretch from Junction Meadow down and up the Sphinx Creek trail could be very hot. I would plan on camping at the bridge and then getting a very early start up the trail to Avalanche Pass. I would rather stay high and go over Forrester Pass like Turbohike suggested. You could stay on the PCT and then drop to the Kern via the Wallace Creek trail, or detour west to the Kern River trail from Lake South America, which is a longer route but more scenic.

With your original plan, not sure why you are starting at Onion Meadow. That makes the transportation difficult. What about starting from Roads End and go directly to Avalanche Pass? At least you are then only two hours from your starting point, instead of a day's travel back to the east side. If you do come in from Onion Meadow, the lakes east of Kearsarge Pass are usually passed by but are quite nice. There is a use trail over to Matlock Lake, which is very nice. If camping at Kearsarge Lakes, go down to the outlet of the lake with the bear boxes (no longer in use). There are nice campsites with less people. The junction of the JMT with the Bubbs Creek trail (Vidette Meadow) can be a real zoo. I would avoid it if possible. Junction Meadow is a lot nicer. Water can be scarce on the Avalanche Pass Trail between Sphinx Creek and the pass. Down the other side of the pass there is a little stream but camping is marginal.

User avatar
Matthew
Topix Novice
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:56 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by Matthew » Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:51 pm

I'd agree with WD and TurboMike:
"I will say that the the Bubbs Creek and Avalanche Pass portions of you planned trip are not the most scenic IMO."
Yes, you hike these nice areas (Bubb's, Avalanche) to get to the great areas (Colby, Deadman Canyon etc). Bubb's is a lot of down and Avalanche is a lot of up, both a lot of distance, for scenery that is nice, but compared to Forester, Kern etc which are spectacular (also up and down).
But don't let that discourage you, these are lovely areas. If you are into lower altitude (maybe a fire at night) these are great.

User avatar
hurricaniac
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:29 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by hurricaniac » Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:58 pm

Or, better yet:

1. Start at Onion Valley and go to Lake Reflection
2. Go over Longley Pass and drop down into Cloud Cyn, Roaring R. River Ranger Stn, then up Deadman Cyn.
3. Go to Big Bird Lake, Tablelands, Moose Lk or Pear Lk
4. Exit to Crescent Mdw.

A lot of off-trail effort, but big wow-factor. You will get your mind blown by the scenery and have some prime wilderness all to yourselves.

User avatar
levi
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 53
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:45 pm
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by levi » Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:51 pm

Seconding (thirding? fourthing?) many of the above suggestions to avoid hiking all the way down Bubbs and then back up Avalanche. It's empowering to start and end a backpacking trip in a popular area (like Kearsarge Pass or Pear Lake) and spend many days in the middle all to yourselves. Longley Pass is super fun/rewarding/isolated, the cornice will be small by August (especially in this low snow year). If you do Longley Pass, you should bag South Guard, it's a short, easy uphill hike from the pass. Big Bird Lake, Tablelands is gorgeous and similarly isolated. I'm hoping to link these two adjacent areas with one trip someday, having visited them separately in the past few years. Given your group's experience level and willingness to be out there for many days, side trips, etc., the extra effort to navigate off-trail will be more than worth it!

User avatar
c9h13no3
Topix Expert
Posts: 585
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:19 pm
Experience: Level 1 Hiker
Location: San Mateo, CA

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Feb 26, 2020 8:17 pm

I'm always curious what folks do for a car shuttle on these things. Most of my friends who have done it, it involved >24 hours hitching & bus riding. Loops are cool?
"Adventure is just bad planning." - Roald Amundsen
Also, I have a blog no one reads. Please do not click here.

User avatar
kursavwilage
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 9:52 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Atascadero, Ca

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by kursavwilage » Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:30 pm

c9h13no3,

I once went from Mineral King then out through Sheperd's Pass. Had a friend of mine drop us off at Mineral King then meet us on the other side on our last day. I carry a sat phone so if things change I can let him know .....

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4963
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:13 pm

Wow! What nice friends. You are lucky to have friends to take the time to help out with cross-Sierra transportation.

User avatar
kursavwilage
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 61
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 9:52 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Atascadero, Ca

Re: Onion Valley to Crescent Meadow

Post by kursavwilage » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:42 pm

Wandering Daisy,
Yes I am pretty lucky in that regard, I almost had the same friend ready to do it for me again this coming summer but, I decided make another attempt at a loop that I unsuccessfully attempted last year.
Back in the 1980s when I was first starting out I talked my mom and step dad into picking up our car at Mineral King and drop it off a Roads End for us. Cool thing was they were waiting for us with snacks when we came strolling up to the parking lot. My mom didn't appreciate Mineral King road or the drive into Kings Canyon so she told me to never ask them to do that again...

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], mort, thegib and 9 guests