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Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

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Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby schmalz » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:09 pm

I'm taking a friend and his fiance on their first backpacking trip. This will also be their first taste of the high sierra. I have a few trails in mind as an introductory trip, but I thought you guys could maybe inform me about some places I don't know about.

Here is some info to help you guys with your advice.

- My friend lives in Sacramento and I live in Los Angeles. I’m thinking some of the wilderness on the west side between Yosemite Valley and Kings Canyon would be a good compromise for both of us.

- I have pretty solid backcountry experience, but I’m obviously staying on nice maintained trails for my first timer friends.

- The trip will be for 2 nights, but we’d like to set up a basecamp and go dayhiking around the area without our full packs on day 2.

- This is the hard one (perhaps impossible): I want the hike in and out to be pretty easy, preferably 6 miles or less and under 2,000 feet elevation gain. However, I am also hoping to get them somewhere where they feel a bit isolated and aren’t surrounded by other campers. Good scenery would be nice for my photography, but ease of access and lack of crowds is a larger priority.

- The trip is a weekend in mid-august.

To give you an idea of what kind of trips I’m considering… the Twin Lakes area in Kaiser and the main area of the Dinkey Lakes wilderness are the top contenders I’ve found so far.

As a thanks for any help I get, here's a shot I took last weekend for your amusement.


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Re: Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:32 pm

Doesn't the trip report for the MST meet up that was just posted meet your criteria?

Seems like it would be worth a PM...

check out our website:
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Re: Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:34 pm

Hi Schmalz

Though not where you requested, but in Kings Canyon, Seville Lake is 7 miles
from the trailhead that starts at a little less than 8000 ft, and the lake is
at 8404 ft, so you will not be doing a lot of climbing.
I would recommend going to Lost Lake which is 8.7 miles, has bear boxes so they
will not have to carry the weight of the canister, and be at one of the prettiest
lakes in the Sierra with a trail to it.
Pear Lake is at 9127 ft so it is a little higher up, but not over your 2000 ft request.
If the milage bothers you than go to Seville, also has bear boxes available, and
do a day hike to Lost, and Ranger Lakes.
They will love the scenery, as will you camera!
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Re: Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby tim » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:55 pm

Chain Lakes in southern Yosemite is a good option that fits your criteria very well (its next on my list for a very similar 3 day/2 night camping trip with the kids). Only issue to remember is that you can't phone for permits like Yosemite - you have to apply by mail to Sierra National Forest. The drive up to the Quartz Mountain trailhead is also supposed to be a bit confusing.

Looking at the clues/photos in the other thread, I suspect I might have given the game away.
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Re: Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:21 pm

Because LA lies considerable east of Sacramento (LA is about due south of Reno), particularly if your friends live in the east part of the LA basin, Sierra east side trailheads are not much farther if you are looking for an area about half-way between. East side trailheads are also closer to Hwy 395 than west side trailheads are from Hwy99 so even if a bit longer in distance, you are about the same in time to get to either side of the Sierra when adding the greater distance on slow-going roads on the west side. So I would therefore not rule out east side trips.
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Re: Trip Advice: Easy westside solitude for a first timer?

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:48 pm

The Dinkey Lakes are a fine choice. The ca 3 mi, 500' gain hike in to a base camp (First Dinkey, South, Swede) location is particularly nice for a first trip. There are nice dayhike options from there for your layover day. Twin Lakes out of Sample Meadow in Kaiser is not bad, but doesn't offer as many nice dayhike options as the Dinkeys.

Another west flank choice is the Vandeburg etc. Lake area, Granite Creek drainage, Ansel Adams Wilderness. This is another short entry (3-4 miles depending on your choice of destination), with oodles of options for dayhikes on your layover day.

Note that short hikes on trails will not generally get you solitude compared to remote (lots of distance) or trailless destinations (some of which may be very close to a road but still have very few visitors), but a bit of creativity in locating your camp spot (on the side of lake opposite the trail for example) is your best bet.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: ... ayshi.html
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