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Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

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Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:57 am

With Mammoth Mountain now reporting 606 inches of snow, I am interested in some good early summer (when the trails are at least partially snow free) day hikes of any length on the east side (where I am lucky enough to live now) that tend to follow more creeks than cross them. I usually hike alone (with my dog) and certainly don't mind wet feet but I am a woman, 63 by the time the back country opens, fairly fit for my age, not willing to risk deeper water. Parker Lake, trails out of Coldwater Campground in Mammoth, Twin Lakes in Bridgeport are some. What about Onion Valley and Big Pine?? I also wish to explore the Hoover wilderness and Tahoe area this season. Thanks so much for any suggestions!!
Last edited by jessegooddog on Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby texan » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:18 am

Leavitt Meadows has some good day hikes but this with harsh winter I would wait until the end of May. Theres 5 ft of snow in Leavitt Meadows right now(3/27/11).

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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:32 am

Thanks, Texan...I was not planning to hike in the backcountry until the trails are at least partially snow free. I have not hiked Leavitt Meadows but it is near the top of my list!!
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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby Ikan Mas » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:52 am

The trail from Twin Lakes to Barney and Peeler Lake in Hoover runs on one side up to Barney. There are some wet spots, but no crosings up to Barney. Above Barney you have two crossings, one of which would be bad if done with high flows (lots of down timber in the creek, high gradient, swift water). Had to wade with shoes off in August. Would not like to cross it in the spring.
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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:54 pm

Maybe you should think desert or coast range until mid-June.

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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:14 pm

Yeah, those coastal hikes...

http://www.thecalifornian.com/article/2 ... ed-Big-Sur

Careful where you go, and be aware that highway 1 between Carmel and Big Sur has fallen... no traffic going south on 1 after Paso Colorado Road (Bottchers Gap trailhead).

You have plenty of low elevation options including Henry Coe State Park. But all areas with creek crossings can become dangerous if it's rained heavily.
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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:50 pm

Although not on the east side, my early season favorites are in Yosemite Valley because the main trails have big bridges. Yosemite Falls and the Snow Creek trail are great. The hikes out of Hetch Hetchy are open early. A major bridge is out now, but they say it will be fixed in late April. On the east side, you may try a day-hike up to Mono Pass from Rock Creek. I do not recall any hard crossings going in from South Lake to the lakes east of Bishop Pass. At most crossings big rocks that you can hop have been placed. You would need trekking poles. I have not been to Chocolate Lakes, but they should be pretty. From Glacier Lodge trailhead you can easily get to First and Second Lakes. The trail goes up a south-facing sage brush slope. Anything from Onion Valley will have snow higher up. If you do not mind a bit of snow the hike up to Kesearge Pass is spectacular. The road is not known as an early opening road, however. I am not sure what you mean by "early season". Another interesting short trip is up Tuttle Creek to the "Stone House". As for Hoover Wilderness, most of these trailheads are high and snowy early (unitl June). The hike into Green Lake is beautiful. But I am not sure when that road opens. The trail from Sliver Lake up to Gem Lake has bridges. I did this early last year. There is one section of the trail with a steep snow-bank, but there usually are steps across. There are considerable water problems to continue to Waugh Lake. Nothing dangerous but muddy and trails covered in foot-deep water. The inet creek to Gem Lake could be a problem. And there are the trails out of Devil's Postpile. The major trails have huge bridges. In general, my early season strategy is to stay on major trails with big bridges.
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Re: Early season day hikes with low water crossings

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:05 pm

Thank you Wandering Daisy - I moved to Independence a few months ago so I plan to do lots of hiking within a day's drive. By "early season" I mean when the backcountry starts opening up....July maybe?? But yes, Yosemite area before the summer crowds.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:59 pm

We hiked Leavitt Meadows last 4th of July, and it was just then opening up. The crossing of the West Walker River to Fremont Lake was, frankly, just a bit more than we bargained for, although we did it. Icy cold water moving steadily...and it was deep enough to get our shorts wet. Not fun.

Snow level then was at about 8000/8500 feet, Cinko Lake was open but the trail was covered with snow.

To hike that in May of this year would be a snow adventure, not a backpacking trip.

And I wonder if the creek crossing above Barney Lake would be wild this time of year. We did it in August with no trouble...but to get to Peeler Lake you have to cross that creek at one point, as I recall? Or maybe that is to get to Crown Lake?

We have photos of both trips on our website, if you're interested, on the highway 108 section
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:02 pm

My wife and I have visited the east side in mid to late June many years (to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary). That includes heavy snow years. I concur with WD's suggestions. The Glacier Lodge trail, Bishop Pass trail to Long Lake or Treasure Lakes (though you may not be able to make it all the way to Treasure without hitting a nasty snowbank until quite late in June), the Mono Pass trail to either Little Lakes Valley or Mono Pass (we did this in June 1983), the McGee Pass trail (if the bridge across the creek is in place) are all interesting day hikes.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby East Side Hiker » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:28 pm

A lot of water comes down the West Walker River and its tributaries. A fun trip out of Leavett would be to xcross country on the north side of the meadow, as far as you want. No one goes there and though your shoes will get wet, it will be beautiful and you will have solitude.

Last 4th of July, I was on/over Sonora Pass. There was a meadow just east of the pass, but above Sardine Mdw, that from the distance looked purple. We pulled over and upon inspection found the entire mdw covered thickly with shooting stars. Never saw anything like it before.
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Re: Early summer day hikes with low water crossings

Postby SPeacock » Wed Mar 30, 2011 4:51 pm

Generally by mid June anything above 11,000' is still covered, BUT they don't call it Sierra Concrete for nothing. Unless very warm and soft you should be able to stay on top with only occasional 'post holing' up to your thigh. Just don't walk on snow that has to much of a slope without at least crampons to be able to stay upright. If the trail gets too steep and will be an obvious blunder if you slip - stay away from it. This year I suspect July will still have a bit of snow above 11,000. The trails mentioned keep you below 11,000'...except for Bristle Cone Pine area.

Independence? My favorite early(ish) season hike is trail to Shepherd Pass. On road up to Onion Valley take the south leading dirt road at the sign (well before you start up the hill to Onion). You start low about 1000' higher than Independence. That's the good news. The bad news is that you start low. It is a long way from there to the pass if that is a goal some weekend.

You have to cross Symmes Creek early on at its widest and wildest, but once beyond that you will stay dry until you hit snow. More than likely can jump it but plan on wet boots and a change of socks. You will know very early on if it is too much for you. By mid June I'd guess even this year you won't have much snow until Anvil Camp...a good day hike turnaround spot.

Spectacular scenery as you get over the ridge and just before you take a dip down towards Shepherd Creek. It will be a chaos in that creek as it tries to get through a narrow opening. You get to only look at it below the trail. Then it is back up hill to just below Mahogany Flats. If you have energy (and trail) continue up toward Anvil Camp.

Waterfalls cascading from snow melt high up on your left; two 14rs (Williamson, Tydall) doing a slow strip tease as you get higher and closer; an abundance of wild flowers; waterfall almost on the trail; expansive well graded trail - it just seems to go on for ever.

You start low and your back will be in the sun, so good idea to start just before sunrise so you will have a little light as you cross Symmes. Only problem returning is that you have to get up that dip in the trail back to the ridge.

Second favorite June hike is from Bishop on the Bishop Pass trail from South Lake to Long Lake for lunch and if the snow is not too soft, on up to the pass on the snow. Careful it does get a bit steep as you go up the head wall. Lots of water coming off from the 13,000' rim around the drainage.

Cottonwood Lakes (Lone Pine, Horseshoe Meadows) should be nearly snow free by Father's Day. Another lunch at the lakes trip. Spectacular view of a 14r's several thousand vertical feet above you. Lots of lakes to explore. One of those can't get lost if you get off trail (near the lakes).

Onion Valley is at around 9800' and you will probably be the source of trail information about the condition of the trail up to Kearsarge Pass. Usually even with snow the last 1/2 mile or so is still just a long slog with not a lot of snow at the top of the pass (cornice). But just getting up to where you can look down into Pot Hole Lake below you and the big GROAN of the last 1/2 mile to the pass should be open mid June - even this year. It is a nice lunch spot on large flat bolders and a rare flat area to look at flowers.

Big Pine and Glacier Lodge area is a good July (maybe August) trip up to the lakes. In the area is the largest glacier in Calif - Palisades. Beautiful area even with some snow - so long as you can walk on it. Trek poles are great aids for staying upright.

Bristle Cone Pine area and if you have the energy White Mountain is the easiest 14r in the state. Mostly on road. It is a bit in the snow shadow of the Sierra so the road may be open earlier (and higher) than most in the area. Best thing to do is get chummy with the rangers. They will know (and so should Independence) as the roads are cleared.

Try some snow walking and see if you like it. Take along snow cone syrup, cup and spoon. The snow is perfect for bottomless snow cones. Typical cautions about yellow snow.
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