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Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

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Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby js hill » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:40 am

We are planning a trip later on this month starting at the Duck Pass trailhead and camping the first night at Deer Lakes. The next day we want to go from Deer Lakes to the JMT. Has anyone recently hiked from Deer Lakes to the JMT? I called the Mammoth Lakes visitor center and talked to a ranger. He thought the trail was in decent shape and that downed trees had been removed but he had not personally hiked the trail. I would prefer a first hand report if anyone has been there lately? I have also heard that the fishing at Deer Lakes is pretty good. I appreciate any input you may have. Thanks, jshill



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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:17 pm

I am a bit confused about your route. If you start at Duck Lake and go to Deer Lakes first night, then drop to PCT, where do you go after that? Are you only doing an overnight and returning to Reds Meadow? Otherwise if heading south on the JMT, is not the route a back-track? Why not go in at George Lake (??) taking the trail past Crystal Crag up to the crest and down to Deer Lakes, then take the High Route to Duck Lake, and on down to PCT to head south. I do not think the PCT from Deer Creek to the creek flowing out of Duck Lake is a very scenic part of the PCT.

If I were going in Duck Pass, I would spend the first night at Pika Lake. It is really scenic. You could fish Duck Lake. We caught more fish in Duck Lake than at Deer Lakes. There is camping down at Duck Lake but just a little bit further to Pika Lake is a LOT nicer. Camping at the outlet end of Duck Lake is restricted to some distance (cannot remember exactly, but about 1/4 mile) from the lake.

We caught a fair sized fish in Deer Lakes. Do to know if that means the fishing is good or we were just lucky. We found "fisherman's trash" around some lakes which indicates that the lakes have been heavily fished (or fished by trashy fishermen).

It is my understanding (may be wrong) that the trail from PCT to Deer Lakes is not maintained. Are you sure the ranger was not talking of downed trees cleared from the PCT?
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby kpeter » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:56 pm

The trail from Duck Pass over to Deer Lakes is a sketchy use trail. Not hard to follow but you will wind up on a use trail half the time and cross country half the time.
IMGP2657.jpg
Between Deer Lakes and Duck Lake

I did this as a day hike from Pika Lake last summer over to Deer Lakes and back. The use trail joins the main trail very near the Pika Lake turnoff. There is one scramble in/out of the Deer Lake shelf.
IMGP2661.jpg
Just before the scramble down to Deer Lakes from the SE


In contrast, the trail from Duck Pass to the JMT/PCT is a very well engineered and maintained trail. I would doubt there would be any problems with it.
IMGP2709-2.jpg
Trail from Duck lake to the JMT/PCT


Some people go from the George Lake trailhead to Deer Lakes and then over the use trail to Duck Pass and Lake. Some we encountered said they did this since getting a permit from the George Lake trailhead was easier than the Lake Mary trailhead.

I would agree that the best camping is around Pika Lake. Deer lakes were a little disappointing to us. For the complete write up of our Duck/Pika trip see this:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8159&hilit=Pika#p59117

Duck Lake has been famous for fishing in the past, but I no longer fish so I cannot attest to its current state. It is an enormous, deep lake, made to seem even bigger by the dramatic open backdrop with many viewpoints as you come down the trail on the NW side.
IMGP2651.jpg
Duck Lake, Pika in back, refractions :(

This shows a small piece of Duck Lake and Pika Lake in back. The low ridge separating Pika from Duck has most of the best camping.
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby js hill » Sun Jul 07, 2013 6:38 am

According to the USFS website, when you click on their map, there is a trail from Duck Pass to Deer Lakes and from Deer Lakes to the JMT. After we get to the JMT, we are heading North to Yosemite. We haven't been to Deer Lakes before so we wanted to see some new country and try our luck at fishing. Thanks
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:00 am

My experience with the "trail" from Duck Pass to Deer Lakes is the same as kpeter. Definitely DO NOT follow the trail as shown on the USGS map! It is wrong. It DOES NOT climb up that big hill before dropping to Deer Lakes. As the trail drops down to Deer Lakes it becomes pretty obvious. We never found the start of the trail from Duck Pass, but it is easy travel so does not matter. It is tricky to find the trail that goes up onto the little flat saddle before dropping down to Deer Lakes.

The trail that goes from Deer Lakes to Lake George is a good trail that is easy to follow and very scenic. From Lake George you could then take the shuttle to Devils Post Pile or walk to Horseshoe Lake (I think there is also a shuttle to this lake) and take the Mammoth Pass trail to Reds Meadow. This is just another possibility.

A more difficult route is to follow Roper's High Route by continuing on the crest (not drop to Crystal Lake) off-trail. Dropping down to Mammoth Pass is a bit gnarly.
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:08 am

Image

northernmost deer lake

Image
ridge trail that goes to Lake George
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:06 pm

js hill wrote:I have also heard that the fishing at Deer Lakes is pretty good. I appreciate any input you may have. Thanks, jshill
Met two guys coming down Duck Pass Trail from Deer Lakes last Sunday. They said they didn't catch any fish, if that means anything to you. I have no idea about their setup or skills, but they seemed knowledgeable with nice gear. Maybe they just didn't want to share their real luck. They didn't mention any trail issues, but it was a brief conversation.

Duck Pass trail was clear with just small snow patches here and there.
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby kpeter » Sun Jul 07, 2013 5:27 pm

js hill wrote:According to the USFS website, when you click on their map, there is a trail from Duck Pass to Deer Lakes and from Deer Lakes to the JMT. After we get to the JMT, we are heading North to Yosemite. We haven't been to Deer Lakes before so we wanted to see some new country and try our luck at fishing. Thanks

The topos show a trail from Duck Pass to Deer lakes--but it is as we have said it is more of a route. I don't know anything about a direct trail from Deer lakes to the JMT, maybe others do. Hard to imagine anything easier than the trail from Duck Lake to the JMT
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Re: Deer Lakes to JMT/Fishing

Postby js hill » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:37 am

Thanks for your info and input. If we were to camp near Pica Lake is there a route that goes around the south side of Duck Lake to the outlet? (From there we would hike down to the JMT). I still haven't heard from anyone that has hiked from Deer Lakes to the JMT.
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