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Great Canyon/Valley hikes

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Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby cgundersen » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:18 am

I'm probably borrowing an earlier thread, but I could not help thinking on the trail leaving Florence Lake last month that the initial segment of that route is not particularly visually enticing. In part, it may be that the vegetation has obscured even more of the views since I entered that way in the mid-'90s. But, more to the point, it got me to thinking about wilderness valley routes that are particularly scenic, or otherwise beguiling. So, the question is: what are your favorite valley/canyon routes in the Sierra?
To get the ball rolling, here are some of my favorites:
1. Evolution Valley (I'm guessing this will be high on many folk's list)
2. Cloud Canyon, especially as it approaches the Whaleback.
3. Kern Canyon, especially the stretch from Chagoopa Falls & the Hot Springs to the alpine zone
4. Upper Bubbs Creek on the approach to Forester Pass.
5. Le Conte Canyon
6. The Big Arroyo
7. Lyell Canyon
8. McGee creek valley (the East side entry)
9. French canyon

But, I've never been in Tehipite Valley and big expanses of Yosemite & Emigrant Wilderness remain out of my ken, so I suspect there are a lot more possibilities!

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Re: Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby SSSdave » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:44 am

All those stream canyons along their full lengths have boring sections and interesting sections. Some are more or less interesting at different times of year. For instance some have considerable aspen and cottonwood that are particularly interesting in the fall. There are far more canyons in the Sierra than your list indicates. Also many canyons split in their headwater areas into several canyons. At best one might discuss separate sections of canyons. And it would only be fair to consider scenic views from down at the bottom of those canyons along their streams and not up in hanging valley or canyon benches. Generally most canyons are not particularly scenic below 8k while headwaters basins tend to be very scenic so comparisons are not always valid. One might compare say:

Below Evolution Valley, the SF San Joaquin River canyon down to Piute Creek to the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River from Glen Aulin to Pate Valley.

And one might compare Tuolumne Meadows to Evolution Valley.

Or McGee Creek to SF Bishop Creek or Convict Creek but comparing them to Evolution Valley would be apples and oranges.

Or Yosemite Valley to Kings Canyon or Tehipite Valley.

They are all different and all unique. Some are certainly more spectacular than others.
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Re: Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:08 am

For my money, the best extended canyon/valley hike is the Middle Fork Kings from Dusy Creek* to Tehipite Valley. Consistently spectacular, but with tremendous variation, from the idyllic meadowlands of Grouse Meadow to the rugged gorge south of Palisade Creek to the great yosemite of Tehipite Valley.

*You could include the stretch north of Dusy Creek, with Big and Little Pete Meadows; I just haven't done that part.
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Re: Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby david s » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:10 am

In no particular order:

-Bear Creek: Both the lower and Hilgard sections
-SF San Joaquin
-Goddard Canyon
-Kern Canyon (at and upstream from Rattlesnake trail junction)
-Big Arroyo (slot canyon just up from Kern Hot Springs)

Hoping to add Tehipite to the list in a matter of days!
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Re: Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby fourputt » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:31 am

Theodore Solomons wrote a article (might have been in the SC Bulletin) called "Unknown Yosemites of the High Sierra," or something to that effect, wherein he lauded Goddard Creek canyon at its confluence with Disappearing Creek. I share that opinion but would add that he omits the minor problem of getting there and getting out.

Muro Blanco is pretty spectacular too but suffers from the same defect.
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Re: Great Canyon/Valley hikes

Postby quentinc » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:20 pm

I actually find Shepard's Creek (except for the absurd switchbacks between Mahogany Flat and Anvil Camp) and Taboose Creek (except for the rubble on the trail) to be great canyon hikes. I just did Taboose and loved it.

I agree with the ones already listed, except Kern Canyon, which I hate.
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