HST Community      Early season hiking

Early season hiking | High Sierra Topix  

Early season hiking

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!

Re: Early season hiking

Postby paul » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:13 pm

At the moment things are not going your way. It's snowing right now up at Rock Creek. It's looking less likely that you'll be able to hike to any eastside lakes with open water on april 28th - but it could happen. Just depends on whether it warms up fast right after this current storm. According to the 10-day Mammoth Lakes forecast, it will warm up pretty well from the 15th thru the 22nd. But I'd be making alternate plans - like some spectacular desert hiking - just in case.

User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:35 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:28 am

If someone wanted to get out, like now, there is always the Middle Fork Kaweah Trail, or as I call it, The Low Sierra Trail. Check out this site looking part ways up that drainage. Look carefully about mid picture and you can see the (dry) trail:
There will be some wet crossings, and even in early season they were not hard when I did them. You could probably go all the way to Redwood Meadow and beyond right now. It is all below 7000 feet unless you head for Pinto Lake or up to Bearpaw and etc. Some of the streams are bridged. Lots of good camping along the way. Plenty of trailhead parking.
You must register an account and login to view the files/photos attached to this post.
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 480
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 2:06 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby SSSdave » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:49 pm

Way too early to be thinking "a great day hike to a beautiful lake" in the Eastern Sierra. Most fishermen in the ES for the trout opener will be fishing the roadside areas like Crowley reservoir, June Lake Loop lakes, Owens River, and its valley tributary streams.

From the Inyo NF site report on April 16:

Some winter road closures have been opened in preparation for fishing season opener.The Bishop Creek road closures remain at Bishop Ck Lodge and just past Aspendale. Rock Creek is now open to the lake although all campgrounds remain closed due to snow or water systems issues. The road into the Big Pine Canyon is now open.
Old Mammoth Road to Lakes Basin CLOSED for the season
Reds Meadow/Devils Postpile 203 CLOSED for the season

But if you are set on a trip to the ES, you can still find nice camping and hiking down in the Owens Valley areas from Bishop south. Yes those places that are hot, dry, and unpleasant when you visit during July. But it is late April aka spring and the sun's altitude is lower and less intense even midday. Areas that are nicely green and flowery in their spring. Any areas north of there, will be dormant for a few more weeks as snow storms can still occur right in the valley. Might end up hiking on old jeep roads or crosscountry versus backpacking trails. Thus forget about lakes and instead think of places to explore and camp at like these:



User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 2357
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby tim » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:01 pm

I wouldn't give up completely on Rock Creek, although its worth noting there might well be another storm around the last weekend of the month, so that might not be so good for your trip. It sounds like the road is already open to the lake, so its a pleasant day hike from there up the road to Mosquito Flat. The snow sensor indicates that all of last week's snow at Rock Creek has already melted, and its expected to be very hot for the next week or so. You would likely need to walk on snow some of the way but it should be fairly easy on the road. Depending on how early in the day you go, snowshoes or microspikes might be in order for some of it. I had a great day hike (on far more snow) up to 9500ft near Mt Rose when we were in Tahoe the first week of April.

Here's a set of photos from April 8 on Mt Tom (i.e. before most recent storm), with views into Pine Creek (just to the south of Rock Creek) that I found on the Whitney Portal message board:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics6 ... 914549086/

Also note that there will be plenty of activity around Whitney Portal at the end of April (just before permit season starts) and you can drive up there as well. Again some snow walking but its patchy and there will be a decent trail - plenty of good pictures on the Whitney board (see http://www.whitneyportalstore.com/forum ... d=1&page=1).
User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 504
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:36 pm
Location: Bay Area
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby sparky » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:09 pm

Here is a place I like to go in the off season. Well, besides the desert :D




User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 919
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:01 am
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby cgundersen » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:39 pm

Hey Bud,
Here's a thought: from the other posts, I'm inferring you're driving up from southern CA. If that's the case, you'll save yourself an hour (or more) of driving by staying in Lone Pine and taking hikes from there. In another thread, folks have indicated that the road to Horseshoe Meadows (which cuts off the Whitney Portal Road out of Lone Pine) is open. There are great hikes from there both over Cottonwood Pass (barely a pass, but as you work your way toward Chicken Springs Lake, huge vistas open up toward the West) and to the Cottonwood Lakes. Also, it's a relatively easy hike to the first lakes along the Kearsarge Pass trail out of Onion Valley (the OV road leaves from Independence, the next hamlet N of Lone Pine on 395). If you want to spend more time outdoors with less chance of snow and less time driving, this area is great. This link (below) has webcams focused on Whitney and Williamson, the two towering 14ers that overlook Lone Pine & Independence.
http://www.sierravisionsstock.com/sierr ... a-webcams/

User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 848
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 1:07 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby Ska-T » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:22 pm

Hi Daniel,

There are day hikes in the Mountain Home State Forest, the Golden Trout Wilderness, and the South Sierra Wilderness that are low enough in elevation to be snow-free or just have patches of snow, and that go by water (streams not lakes) that you can fish. A good resource for these hikes is a book by Suzanne Swedo, "Hiking California's Golden Trout Wilderness". I'm in Huntington Beach if you want to look over my copy.

Here are some brief descriptions. Mileage is for the full loop or out and back. # is trip # in the book:
#1. 8.2mi loop. Trailhead = Hidden Falls Campground on the Middle Fork of the Tule River. Trail goes past Giant Sequoias and crosses some streams. The spring run off may make the crossings inadvisable.

#2. 3.6mi loop. Trailhead = Hidden Falls Campground on the Middle Fork of the Tule River. This trail avoids the stream crossings of #1. Side trip to waterfall possible.

#8. 9.2mi out & back. Trailhead = Jerkey Meadow. Hike to Little Kern River and back.

#9. 9.2mi out & back. Trailhead = Lewis Camp. Hike to Little Kern River and back.

#13. 4.4mi out & back. Trailhead = Forks of the Kern. Hike to Little Kern River & back. If you are able to cross the Little Kern you can hike up the Kern River for another 8.5mi or so.

#22. 12mi out & back. Trailhead = Blackrock. Hike to Jordan Hot Springs and back.

#39. 12.2mi out & back. Trailhead = Haiwee Pass. Hike over Haiwee Pass from the eastside and go down to the South Fork of the Kern River, and back.

#43 Variable milage, out & back. Trailhead = Kennedy Meadows. Hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail near the South Fork of the Kern River and Craig Creek. Turn around at any distance.

Hope this isn't too late and helps some.

User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:59 pm
Location: Huntington Beach
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Early season hiking

Postby quentinc » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:40 am

Just an fyi -- the Haiwee Pass trail (#39) was washed out the previous winter. I don't know if it has since been reopened. Sage Flat would be a nice alternative (goes a bit higher, but that won't be a problem for this low-snow season).
User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles
Experience: N/A

Re: Early season hiking

Postby jimmeans » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:03 am

quentinc wrote:Just an fyi -- the Haiwee Pass trail (#39) was washed out the previous winter. I don't know if it has since been reopened. Sage Flat would be a nice alternative (goes a bit higher, but that won't be a problem for this low-snow season).

Haiwee Pass trail is open. I was on it six weeks ago. There is one spot in the bottom of the canyon where the trail was undercut which required some scrambling to get around, but otherwise it is passable. Just don't bring any stock. Near the canyon mouth there is a huge pine log in the stream bed that has been stripped on all branches, bark, roots, etc. The eye-opener is when you realize how far it is from that spot to where any pine trees are growing.
User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 6:47 am
Location: San Diego
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Early season hiking

Postby SSSdave » Thu May 03, 2012 10:16 am

Gem Pass 10750 11.0 -5.0
volcanic Knob 10050 12.0 -4.0
Dana Meadows 9800 9.0 -7.0
Agnew Pass 9450 11.5 -7.5
Mammoth Pass 9300 8.5 -4.0
Kaiser Pt 9200 4.0 -9.5
Tuolumne Meadows 8600 6.0 -1.5
Ostrander Lake 8200 6.5 -10.5
Tenaya Lake 8150 6.5 -4.5
Tamarck Summit 7550 0.0 -8.5
Huntington Lake 7500 0.0 -10.0
Gin Flat 7050 0.0 -8.5
Graveyard Meadow 6900 0.0 -4.5
Lower Kibbie Ridge 6700 0.0 -7.5

Checked some of the CDEC San Joaquin and Tuolumne basin Sierra snow sites today in order to evaluate dates for a week long trip we will be making this mid summer. The first number is the inches of water left in the snowpack and the second number how many inches were lost during the last two weeks. During the next few weeks the melt will accelerate as the sun azimuth continues to rise and the northern hemisphere warms. Thus it is rather obvious in that region, pretty much everything out in the open below 9k is going to melt by Memorial Day weekend so backpackers ought to have considerable early season choices.

I delayed committing to a mid summer date in April because some springs it is cool and stormy through May. However the northern jetstream has continued moving north as expected with California just receiving the tail end of systems moving through the Pacific Northwest and I see no reason to believe it will drop back much given this rainy season's history.
User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 2357
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests