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Bear Diversion Dam vs. Bear Creek Trail

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Bear Diversion Dam vs. Bear Creek Trail

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jul 12, 2007 7:49 am

I've done the Bear Diversion Dam trailhead (about 15 years ago), but I've never hiked in from the Bear Creek Trailhead (the trail goes over the ridge, I guess). I'll be in a low-clearance passenger vehicle, so if I do the former I'll be hiking the 2 miles in to the dam. Has anyone here done both, and if so, which would you recommend? Thanks in advance.



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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:14 am

I have not done the "over the ridge" trail, but I can say that it is a very well used horspacker route from Edison Lake, and lots of parking at the TH. There is parking at the road turnoff for the Diversion Dam, and many people park there and hike the road, and it is quite a road indeed. Some with cars, with very careful driving, manage to get to the Dam, but I do not suggest it. Lots of one way driving. Lots of great hiking once you do get there.
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Postby tory8411 » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:36 am

Hi Tom,
I have used that trailhead several times in the past and have seen minivans parked at the trailhead. Honestly, I don't know how they got there. They had to get knocked around a little. The road can be a little soft, meaning that momentum is needed in a few spots to get up the ridge without spinning out. 4wd would definitely come in handy. Clearance-wise it's probably not a big issue, I don't remember a lot of boulder hopping. I wouldn't recommend it, but have seen 2wd cars back there. There is a small little parking lot at the start of the road where you could leave your car, it would be seen from the main road though if that is an issue for you. There is also a little turnout about 1/4 mile in you could probably make right before a slippery ascent.

The trail is awesome and one of my favorite places to head out of. I did my first solo to Beal lakes basin last year out of it and loved it.

Tory
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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:41 am

I'm not familiar with the "over the ridge" trail, but hiking the road from Edison is certainly a piece of cake. I would surmise that the road condition to the diversion dam must vary a bit from year to year. I went up Bear Creek to Lou Beverly/Sandpiper in 1988 with my dad to climb Seven Gables as his 60th birthday celebration. We parked at the intersection of the Diversion Dam road and the Edison road because we were scared off by the "4wd" designation of the Diversion dam road. As we hiked the 2 miles to the diversion dam we regretted not driving it, because it was easily 2wd then. Based on Doyle's description, he must have been up the road during times when it was in much worse shape because in 1988 one could have driven a lowrider to the doggone diversion dam. There are several on this board who did Seven Gables last year, I recall. My recollection was that they found the road easily drivable, but we'll have to hear from them to see. In any case, the 2 mi one adds from the Edison Rd. are peanuts. My 60-year-old dad was able to make Lou Beverly with a full pack in 5.5 hours from the Edison Rd. Then again, my dad had more than a bit of Fred Beckey in him.

Are you looking at Bear Creek with respect to your coming Cirque Lake adventure? I got so excited brainstorming that stuff that I am probably going to do one of those options as my centerpiece (and only) backpack trip in 2008 or 2009--it will be the Bear Creek-Florence shuttle version that includes Gemini and West Pinnacle Creek drainage and Lower Turret Lake (probably 4 days).
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Postby copeg » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:16 am

I drove the Bear Diversion Road last year, it seemed in poor shape and I would not have driven it in 2wd low clearance...but as some have mentioned there is parking near the beginning, and if someone happens to drive by I'm sure they would give you a lift. Its always the case though, when I throw my truck into 4wd and climb over the rocks and sand to reach the end and see a bunch of 2wd low clearance vehicles that had made it. Never hiked the 'over the ridge' trail you speak of so I can't comment on that.
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Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:44 am

giantbrookie wrote:Are you looking at Bear Creek with respect to your coming Cirque Lake adventure?


Is someone thinking about going there? I have planned to go there for many years, one of the few perfect Cirque's in the Sierra. Many routes I have examined. :eek: Perhaps we could co-ordinate something...
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Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:29 am

DoyleWDonehoo wrote:
giantbrookie wrote:Are you looking at Bear Creek with respect to your coming Cirque Lake adventure?


Is someone thinking about going there? I have planned to go there for many years, one of the few perfect Cirque's in the Sierra. Many routes I have examined. :eek: Perhaps we could co-ordinate something...


Actually Tehipite had a thread (in this subforum) wherein he solicited suggestions for a 4-5 day trip with lots of off trail stuff. Cirque/Apollo/Orchid was part of that discussion. This year is a particularly good year to go after it because of the exceptionally low flows in the creeks. I imagine Bear Creek is easily crossable as of right now (the N. Fork Kings last week had about as much water as some gutters in my neighborhood), so this frees up the more direct routes up the canyon wall. In a "normal" or "high" snowfall year, one would have to cross the dam (does anyone know if you can do this, or do they have it gated off) or perhaps downstream of it (it IS a diversion dam after all you know) and fight their way up the ridge before making a long forested traverse on a big bench to the the outlet stream of Cirque (incl. Marcella L). Given that I have no idea what type of snowfall year 2008 and 2009 will be I am counting on doing day 1 from the dam or slightly downstream, making for a 100 percent off trail day 1, a highly attractive prospect in my book.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:45 am

Are you looking at Bear Creek with respect to your coming Cirque Lake adventure? I got so excited brainstorming that stuff that I am probably going to do one of those options as my centerpiece (and only) backpack trip in 2008 or 2009--it will be the Bear Creek-Florence shuttle version that includes Gemini and West Pinnacle Creek drainage and Lower Turret Lake (probably 4 days).

Nice! Yeah, I'll be doing Cirque/Apollo Lakes--you guys talked me back into it. ;) First day to Hilgard Branch or thereabouts, second to Apollo, third to Cirque, and fourth out.

I'm not going to attempt driving to the dam (from what I've heard, it has deteriorated some in recent years), so it's between walking that stretch and hiking in from Bear Creek Trailhead. It looks like the latter might be a little shorter, without too much extra elevation gain...now I just have to find someone who's hiked in that way. ;)
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Postby SSSdave » Thu Jul 12, 2007 1:47 pm

I've backpacked up Bear Creek nine times in the last 4 decades and have never seen the Bear Diversion Dam Road suitable for low clearance 2WD vehicles. A low clearance 4WD like my Subaru's have always made the 2.5 miles though always have had to get out at times with a shovel. Some high clearance 2WD vehicles like big pickups and VW's have always managed the road. The route over the ridge besides full of smelly horse road apples adds a few hundred feet of extra vertical. I'm glad the equine traffic uses that route now instead of our backpacker's creek trail they tended to use more often in the past. ...David
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Postby Haiwee » Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:52 pm

I agree with those who advise against taking the Dam Diversion road in a 2WD vehicle. We drove in there two summers ago and had trouble even with 4WD. It didn't look to me like the road had been graded in years. Bear Creek is my single favorite hike in the Sierras. The scenery is outstanding, as is the trout fishing -- particularly as you go further upstream. My buddy and I caught and released something like sixty fish one day, and even though they are small they offer a fierce fight on light tackle when they get into the current.
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Postby Buck Forester » Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:03 pm

I've hiked from there many years ago and I made it in a 2-wheel drive vehicle, but I used to push my 2-wheel cars to the limit so don't go by what I'm saying. I can't remember specifically how difficult it was because it was too many years ago.

I have hiked many times in the recent past from Hooper Diversion Dam, which you can get to by driving to Florence Lake and past JackAss (there, I said it) Meadow. From there I hike up to Hooper Basin and the series of lakes on the other side of Cirque. I've always wanted to go to Cirque Lake. I think you can access Cirque Lake without much difficulty from Hooper Diversion Dam too, cutting over near the Infant Buttes.

Hey giantbrookie, have you fished Cirque Lake? Please tell! The lakes of Hooper Basin, and Chamberlain, are full of average-sized goldens.
It's all about the WILDERNESS!!!

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Postby maverick » Thu Jul 12, 2007 5:47 pm

Apollo - Goldens
Cirque - Rainbows
Marcella - Rainbows and Brookies
All in the 10-12" range.
Marcella is swampy and might have alot of skeeterz.
Getting from Cirque to Apollo takes a little climbing down a chimney
but not bad(use rope to lower pack).
There is also a small glacier at Apollo on one side of the lake which
makes it that much more unique!
Apollo lives up to its name as being to best of the three.
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