Page 2 of 2

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:35 pm
by c9h13no3
I always just day hike late season. 12 hrs of darkness and below freezing temps are easier to tolerate while watching Netflix on your iPad from the car/hotel. Green Creek’s aspens were on point yesterday.


If you really want to carry overnight gear, something out of Twin Lakes would be good this coming weekend. Maybe up Little Slide Canyon, down by Barney Lake or something similar. Trips out of Yosemite Valley are generally lower and fun if the smoke isn’t bad.

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:10 pm
by wildhiker
There are a few possibilities for backpacking in the Lake Tahoe region right now due to fire restrictions. Desolation Wilderness is not one of them. In fact, all dispersed camping, including backpack camping in wilderness or roadless areas, is currently prohibited throughout the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (national forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin) - apparently through the end of November. The only exception is that the Tahoe National Forest is allowing backpack camping within 500 feet of the Pacific Crest Trail and within the Granite Chief Wilderness area (west of the crest along the northwest side of Lake Tahoe). But you can't use any kind of fire, including a gas stove! So cold dinners. In addition, the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park on the east side is apparently still allowing backpack camping at its two backcountry campgrounds.

With the restrictions above in mind, here are a few possibilities in the Lake Tahoe region that start on main roads that will be kept plowed open if there is an unexpected early season storm.

1) Park at the Pacific Crest Trallhead at Donner Summit just off Interstate 80. Hike north on the PCT about 4.5 miles to Round Valley and find a place to camp. The stream should still be flowing. From there, you can dayhike further north on the PCT and up a side trail to the top of Basin Peak, or you can dayhike by backtracking south on the PCT to Castle Pass and then up a use trail to Castle Peak. If Round Valley is not far enough for you, you can continue north on the PCT with backpacks to Paradise Valley (about 8 miles from the trailhead) to camp by the stream and then can dayhike about 1 mile east to Paradise Lake. This area is part of the Castle Peak Roadless Area and no permits are needed.

2) Park at the Five Lakes trailhead in the Alpine Meadows valley. You can't miss it - it's on the main road about 1 mile before the ski area. Hike up the trail to Five Lakes. You are now in the Granite Chief Wilderness. You can't camp in the Five Lakes basin, but you can camp along the outlet creek where the Five Lakes trail joins the Pacific Crest Trail. This is less than 3 miles from the trailhead. From there, you can take dayhikes north or south on the PCT. I recommend south, which gets up on top of the actual crest. Granite Chief is one of the very few wilderness areas in California that does NOT require a wilderness permit. If you want to camp further in, you can head down the Five Lakes Creek on a side trail for several miles and still be in the Granite Chief wilderness and thus legal to camp. This is all heavily forested.

3) The Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park in the Carson Range on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe has an extensive backcountry area that includes a long stretch of the Tahoe Rim Trail. It is accessed from Spooner Lake, off Nevada state highway 28 just north of its junction with US 50. There are two designated backcountry campgrounds with pit toilets and a water source. Many of the trails are service (fire) roads and get significant mountain bike use. We were just there today and the fall color is magnificent in the aspen groves that line North Canyon. There is still a lot of green in the aspen, so the color show should last for at least another week. It you continue beyond North Canyon to the Tahoe Rim Trail, there are great views across the Tahoe basin. I asked the attendant at the entrance kiosk ($10 fee) if the backcountry campgrounds were still open and he said yes, until the snow comes.


Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:51 am
by c9h13no3
Phil has baller suggestions per usual, but I will say that the Lake Tahoe State park is probably the best choice scenery-wise. However, the Tahoe Rim trail is open to bikes on even days, and a lot of the rest of the park too. So you’ll have lots of people like me there on a nice weather weekend.

Marlette Lake is gorgeous right now though.

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:14 am
by LincolnB
I've been watching air quality - south of Mono Lake pretty much anything is dicey. So lately I've been climbing in the Sonora Pass area - Disaster, Tower. Quota season is past so you can fill out a backpacking permit at the Leavitt Meadows trailhead and head up the Walker River drainage. 7,000' to 8,000+ feet. I was there just a few days ago - it was a heat wave, warm in the day, but still had some ice in my water bottle by morning - be prepared for long cold nights -

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:43 am
by jhfowler
I just got back from the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon. It was a little hazy below 7,000 feet but great above. I passed maybe 50 people on the loop.

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:51 am
by Keegan
Did you book a permit and carry it? I'm wondering whether the forests are "open" at this point or not--on the permit page, it still says everything is closed due to the fires, but maybe that's not current?

Re: Late season backpack trip

Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2020 2:06 pm
by jhfowler
Kings Canyon is open. ... ermits.htm

On their website they say "As of October 1st Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks are open and wilderness trips are allowed."

I was just there and can confirm there are permits available for self-registration at the Roads End Permit Station. Just fill one out, leave a copy in the box there, keep one for yourself, and you are on your way!