3 or 4 night loop in Northern Sierra

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Re: 3 or 4 night loop in Northern Sierra

Post by wildhiker » Sun Feb 21, 2021 11:49 pm

Lassen Volcanic National Park and the adjacent Caribou Wilderness are lovely, but not in the Sierra Nevada! The northern limit of the Sierra is about 20 miles south of Lassen Park; north of that is all part of the Cascade Mountains, with a totally different geological origin.

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Re: 3 or 4 night loop in Northern Sierra

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:56 am

"Big views, alpine lakes and lots of granite" is not what north of Tahoe is about, particularly the "lots of granite" (except Desolation Wilderness where views are good, but not "big" compared to southern Sierra. Why are you limiting yourself to Tahoe and north? North of Tahoe is very vegetated, peaks generally not granite. Would you have the ability to do a point-to-point? for example if you had a group with two cars. In that case there are good short stretches on the PCT between major roads. Are you qualified for off-trail? if so, lots more available. The Minarets also would fit the bill for awesome scenery, but the peaks are dark rock, not granite. Easier to get permits for Minarets from Rush Creek than Devils Postpile.

Sounds like you would prefer Yosemite, north and south of Tioga Road, up next to the divide. As for "Granite" Yosemite canyons cannot be beat, or lower angle granite slabs in Emigrant Wilderness. You can also enter Yosemite north of Tioga Road from Twin Lakes, Buckeye, Green Lakes, Virginia Lake, and Saddlebag Lake trailheads which FS trailheads; often easier to get permits. Southern Yosemite can be accessed from Rush Creek on the east or trailheads on the southwest, such as Fernandez (although check because lots of damage to Beasears(?spelling?) Road during fires).

Although lacking alpine lakes, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne fits the bill for big granite walls, if you are willing to exchange alpine lakes with awesome waterfalls and is an early season route, very suitable for 3-4 nights. It can be done later in the season too, September and although waterfalls are less spectacular and it is hot down low, the swimming pools on the river become safe and you can hike from one swimming hole to another. Lots from Yosemite Valley too, such as North Rim Traverse (no lakes), or from Glacier Point- Panorama Trail-up to Merced Lake, back via JMT, Mist Trail, then either day-hike up 4Mile Trail or take bus (cost about $20 per person) back to your car. You get a permit to stay in backpacker's campground the last night of your trip. Trips involving Yosemite Valley are tricky logistically until you get it all figured out.

The "big views", if you mean big mountains, in Emigrant high country such as the PCT from Sonora Pass and out via Emigrant Lake then down Kennedy Creek or Brown Bear Pass to Lunch Meadow and Relief Reservoir, are volcanic terrain, not granite. The granite in Emigrant is in the lower country. Cherry Creek has awesome granite slabs, if granite is a higher priority than high mountains.

I am a little down on Desolation because it is crowded, full of day-hikers, trailhead parking can be a real problem, permits are costly and quotas apply to small basins so you are required to stick to a pretty strict schedule. On the flip side, it is prefect for short trips like 3-4 days. It has a very "civilized" feel compared to other areas and is very compact; lots packed into a small area, with the views starting from the minute you step onto the trail. Do not expect views like at Hamilton Lake on the HS trail, but it is smaller scale awesome.

I think you can go many places for a nice trip, but it is best if you remain open to the different terrain and do not try to "compare" to the Southern or Central Sierra.

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