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4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

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4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby rbloom » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:23 pm

I'm an Arizona hiker coming to meet family in Fresno. We are planning a 3 night / 4 day itinerary beginning on Wednesday July 24 to Saturday July 27. Two adults and 2 kids both age 9. I figure the kids can walk at most 4-6 miles per day with moderate elevation (1000 - 1500 ft). Shuttle would work as we have two cars, both 4WD. Would be fine hiking to a nice area for base camp and doing day hikes, or moving camp each night. I am Level 2 hiker looking for class 1 terrain, just want a good intro to the Sierras for me and the kids. Water to swim or play in would be nice but we don't care about fishing. Campfire is a plus but not required. I understand we are too late to get permits for some places but hopefully there are still good options. Any suggestions for trips?

Thanks in advance for your help!



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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:33 pm

Most permits are first come, first served, except for a few high-impact areas: you have not missed anything. You might consider going to the Clover Meadow, Granite Creek area, in the San Joaquin River Drainage (Hwy 81 and 7). The hiking in that area is pretty easy. Some easy destinations would be Jackass Lakes, Cora Lake/Sadler Lake, Lady Lake, Lillian Lake, and others. After Driving to the Clover Meadow area and back, you will think you have really been somewhere. Lots of outstanding car-camping in the area too.
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Sadler Lake.jpg
Sadler Lake, a popular destination.
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby rbloom » Wed May 01, 2013 8:04 am

Hi Doyle,

Thanks for the response. A couple of followups...

1. I am confused about permits. In those areas you mentioned, first come first served means showing up in the morning of the trip at the ranger station, right? We would be leaving on a Wednesday and can get there fairly early in the am - would getting a permit be a problem?

2. Can you suggest an itinerary for where to camp each night and the hiking route for that day? Or are you suggesting that we just pick a spot for a base camp and stay in the same place for 3 nights?

Rich
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed May 01, 2013 9:19 am

If you wanted to go to Yosemite, permits would be more difficult, but not hopeless as you are going midweek. Most of the national forest trailheads are far less impacted and I rarely reserve - though that is possible - because when you walk in you get them free. The exception would be Dinkey Wilderness, those trailheads tend to fill to the brim and the lakes get crowded.

Base camping and day hiking would work too for many places. Jackass Lakes, Lillian Lake, Cora Lake, all the destinations from the Beasore Rd or Minaret Rd area are good, and there are lots of campgrounds up there too. The roads are dirt tho, and sometimes rougher than many prefer for their passenger car. Also consider Kaiser Wilderness - with kids, the regions off 168 are good - there is the town at Shaver Lake and cell reception at Shaver and Huntington Lakes, and if something were to happen you're not so far from town. Rent boats at Shaver, hike, fish and drive out to the McKinley Grove of Sequoias. Car camping at Huntington and day hiking on the many trails in that area are great kid fun. Or driving out to Florence - take the kids across the lake on the water taxi and hike around then come back to camp in the evening, fish, sit around the campfire and enjoy.
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby Troutdog 59 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:16 pm

I would agree with the suggestions for the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness or the Kaiser WIlderness. Both have easy access and a nice variety of lakes. With a low snow year, Upper Twin Lake in the Kaiser would make a good base camp area with lots of day hikes avaialbale (Kaiser Peak, George and Walling Lakes, etc). By the end of July this year (low snow year, the water will be warmer (warmer, not warm) and the kids could swim to the island in the middle. Ive seen kids do this every time I have been there.

Similar opportunities in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. The access road is a bit bumpy, but your having 4x4's helps that out. A 4x4 is not actually needed, but the extra clearance is nice. Ive seen passsenger cars at the trail head. You could hike to Swede Lake or South Lakes (both under 4 miles) and base camp at either, with numerous day hikes to chose from (Island Lake, the Three Sisters, Rock Lake and Rockbound Peak) in the area. All pretty easy to access in a nice little wilderness area.

I dont think permits will be an issue as you are starting on a Wednesday, but you can call the Sierra Nat. Forest office in Prather a few days in advance to check. I would figure thats a good place to pick up your permit along the way anyhow. Another good thing about these smaller Wilderness Areas are that if you need to get out to your car qickly, you can do so in the matter of hours, not days.

I also like Doyles suggestion about the Ansel Adams Wilderness area above Bass Lake. One could hike into Vandenburg Lake ( I think its about 5 miles), then continue on to Lillian Lake with packs on day 2, or do day hikes from Vandenburg.

Another choice would be to hike to Devils Bathtub/Graveyeard Lakes area out of Lake Edison at the end of Hwy 168. Day 1 to Devils Bathtub, then over to the Graveyeard Meadows area on day 2. Dayhike to the Graveyeard Lakes on day 3, then hike out on day 4.

Regardless of where you chose to go, I do hope you guys have a good time and post a TR afterwards.
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

R. Trower
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby tim » Wed May 01, 2013 2:19 pm

Sierra National Forest permits can be booked in advance ($5 per person), but only by mail. The application form is here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC ... 017679.pdf, the list of trailheads and quotas are here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC ... 213962.pdf

You will get a confirmation back in the mail and then you collect the permit itself from the ranger station, either the day before (if you are going to camp for the night before setting off) or on the day of the hike.

If I was going to take my kids to this area for their first backpacking trip, I would think about Florence Lake and camp near Muir Trail Ranch for the first and last nights. For the middle night you could head further up river, and go as far as you feel comfortable. Its a busy area (on the JMT), but the hot springs at Muir Trail Ranch are likely to be enjoyable for the kids, as is the ferry across the lake (and in this dry year the river ford to get to the hot springs shouldn't be a problem by late July).

Another option, which is slightly more ambitious, could be Chain Lakes in Southern Yosemite. This is very spectacular country (note your permit would be for Quartz Mountain trailhead in Sierra National Forest). You can base camp there and do day hikes, or with a car shuttle you could go out over Fernandez Pass (though that might be too much for a first trip).
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby rbloom » Thu May 02, 2013 7:10 am

Thanks a bunch for all the excellent ideas and info. I will burrow in to find descriptions and pick one of those spots. You guys are great!
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby balzaccom » Thu May 02, 2013 8:00 am

We've got a few of those trips on our website---so you can check out the photos.

Bear in mind that from Fresno, it's a bit more of a drive than you expect to some of the nicest hikes, like Florence Lake or Thomas Edison. Those tiny roads are best driven about 15 mph or slower.....
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Thu May 02, 2013 10:40 am

Just a few points about the hiking in the San Joaquin River Drainage.
1) The Scenic Byway loop of roads 81, 7 and 10, are mostly paved, except a section of Beasore (7) near Minarets pack-station which is an improved gravel road suitable for any vehicle. The vehicle will get a bit dusty is all.
2) The best road in is 81 (all paved), which features some of the best car-camps in the Sierra (Rock Creek, Soda Springs, Placer, Sweetwater, Mammoth Pool, Lower Jackass, Clover Meadow, Granite Creek, and others) Not to mention a number of unofficial off-road camps. The road is a good one and you can sail along at normal highway speeds.
3) The area is not without its scenic points of interest, the best being the lookout at Mile High Vista, with views of one of the biggest granite domes in the Sierra, Balloon Dome, and sweeping views of the Minarets. The peaks and spires of Shuteye Peak ridge are something to see too.
4) This is one my favorite early season car-trips: some of the falls and cascades during run-off are spectacular. Now (May) would be a good time to go this year.
5) Jackass Lakes is a popular family destination. The easiest shortest steepest way in is at Bowler Camp, 3.4 miles to the lakes. Shorter and easier hiking at 2.8 miles is from 5S86, a rougher dirt road. Another dirt road 5S05 adds another 1.7 miles to the hike. For another additional 1.7 miles is parking at the Ranger Station at Clover Meadow, and has the advantage of never leaving paved road.
6) From those same trailheads (except maybe Bowler), you can also get to wooded Vandeberg Lake, which would make a good base-camp or first night camp. From there it is easy to get to beautiful Lady Lake, Staniford Lakes, Lillian Lake, and other lakes that have trails to them even if they are not shown on the latest maps.
7) From the TH near Granite Creek, it is a fairly easy 5.5 miles to Cora Lake. From there it is an equally easy 5.3 miles to Sadler Lake. I have arrived late some trips and camped at The Niche next to Granite Creek a few times. Before the creek crossing (dangerous early season) there is a little mound of a hill with a flat top and a good camp.
8) At Mammoth Pool is a grocery store and other services.
9) From Fresno going north on 41, look for the big obvious North Fork turnoff: drive through North Fork and hang a right onto 81.

These literary splurges are caused by cabin/spring fever. I would rather be there than here…
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scenicbywaymap.jpg
Another map, this one showing where the road is not paved. Click on map for larger version.
LADYL.jpg
Lady Lake early season.
sierravistabywaymap.gif
Map of the area, north of Fresno. Click on map for larger version.
Lady Lake.jpg
Lady Lake
Doyle W. Donehoo
Sierra Trails:
http://www.doylewdonehoo.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: 4 Day 3 Night Backpacking trip with kids near Fresno?

Postby oldranger » Fri May 03, 2013 9:02 pm

Really quick out of fresno is the Sunset Meadow Trailhead. You can do a lolipop route to Rowellmeadow, then to Seville, Lost or Ranger lake over Silliman Pass to Twin Lakes then J O Pass and back to the trailhead.

Mike
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Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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