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Good Snowshoe Routes?

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby KathyW » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:28 pm

I'd like to start a discussion about good routes/trails for snowshoeing (The info might also be useful for xcountry skiing) in the Sierra (east or west). Although last year was a low snow year, I did a snowshoe trek from Lundy Lake to Oneida Lake last winter that I really enjoyed. I'd like to get some ideas for day snowshoeing trips for this winter. I'd like the destination to be a lake or some other scenic area. Any suggestions? I'm sure there are others out there that would like some ideas too.



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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby zacjust32 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:33 pm

In SEKI, Pear Lake Ski Hut seems popular. Plenty of side trips once you get there as well.
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby copeg » Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Some ideas from some of my winter trips past (routes stick to relatively low angle slopes to avoid avy danger, but may have pockets of potential danger - I'd recommend a familiarity with avalanches before crossing on, above, or below steeper terrain). Note that many can be done as day 'hikes' (depending upon shape/ambition/conditions), but I did most of these trips as overnights given the short winter days, extra gear necessary for winter outings, and slower progress over snow covered terrain
  1. Wolverton -> Panther Gap
  2. Rock Creek -> Little Lakes Valley (Snopark permit required - highly recommend)
  3. Rock Creek -> Davis Lake/Hilton Lakes
  4. Mammoth Mtn -> Minaret Summit toward Deadman Pass/San Joaquin Mtn (and beyond if ambitious and/or camping)
  5. Snow Creek (Yosemite) - depending upon timing this can typically be snow free hiking up to the rim, and snowshoes beyond (top is great camping, but has always been very windy when I've visited in winter)
  6. Dewey Point (Yosemite)
  7. Glacier Point (very far for an out and back in a day - recommend camping out)
  8. Carson Pass -> Winnemucca Lake
  9. Echo Lake -> Lake Aloha
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby tomba » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:25 pm

KathyW wrote:I'd like the destination to be a lake or some other scenic area.

In winter lakes tend to be not very scenic. They often become simply flat snowy plains surrounded by snowy slope, without distinct shore line.
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby Tom_H » Thu Nov 05, 2015 4:13 pm

The best routes are high elevation forest service roads. Trails are impossible to follow unless there are tree blazes, and even then, you can't stay immediately atop them. Submerged manzanita and boulders can create air pockets that can collapse, even with snowshoes or Nordic skis. A road is wide enough to follow, has a reasonable incline, and does not have cavities that collapse. You do want one, however, that doesn't have snowmobiles zooming up and down it. Hwy 120 to Leavitt Lake on Leavitt Lake Rd. and then on up the pass on the PCT might be a possibility (the old road goes beyond the lake, but is blocked off to vehicles), but I don't know how many snowmobiles there might be in there.

Of course, serious winter mountaineers will do the same routes we hike in summer. That requires serious skill, strength, and the right equipment.
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:18 pm

Another fun area: http://www.tahoemountainsports.com/product/peter-grubb

We skied up the road to the hut from the Snow-park on I-80 decades ago, and played around for a day and the headed towards Truckee as we were staying with friends there . If you can get space at the hut, that'd be fun as well. No one was there when we visited.
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby maverick » Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:10 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby rlown » Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:30 pm

Nice, Mav! I also have books (volume 2 and 4) from Marcus Lipkind. "Ski Tours in the Sierra Nevada". very informative, at least to me.

Volume 2 is Carson Pass, Bear Valley, Pinecrest. Volume 4 is East of the Sierra Crest.

http://www.backcountryskitours.com/

Amazon has some of his books at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss? ... rra+nevada

Now.. you have to pick a route.. :)
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby Bluewater » Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:52 pm

I have also taken the Lodgepole to Pear Lake route. The initial Hump Trail section is steep/strenuous but after that it's fine. From Pear Lake there is a popular route toward Winter Alta and from there it's wide open through the Tablelands. The winter views from the top of the ridge are really special (at least to me). The lake at the top of the ridge (above Big Bird Lake) was amazing in winter with all kinds of strange waves of snow possibly due to the wind. If you are interested in going for a few nights there are many options in the Tablelands. I went over Pteradactyl Pass to Lonely Lake but stopped just before Elizabeth Pass when I saw the steep slopes with questionable avalanch conditions beyond.

Piute Pass is also a fun route and there were easy to follow x/c ski tracks to the upper lake when I was there. Although the winter parking area is farther from the trailhead it would still be possible to do day hikes via North Lake. The winter view of Humphreys Basin from the pass is worth the effort. I did a loop back via Alpine Col/Darwin Bench/Canyon/Lamarck that was beautiful.

Sabrina Basin is also a good place to start. I went right after a storm and it took most of the day to break trail through waist deep snow up to Blue Lake. From there the terrain is easier. It's much easier to get into the upper lakes (Midnight, Echo). The view of the lakes with snow capped mountains at sunset is especially beautiful in winter, and it's possible to walk over the lakes for an easy short cut:)

We did a loop out of the Silver Lake trailhead last year. It was a low snow year and the coverage wasn't complete until the steep switchbacks above Agnew Lake. The outlet area of Thousand Island Lake was amazing and possible to reach in the morning of the second day. From there the JMT corridor is easy to follow, with the help of GPS. We camped at Ediza the second night then looped back the last two days.

After a few local trips I was comfortable following the usual summer routes in winter with the help of GPS and proper winter gear. If you are interested in more info I have maps, photos and details of these routes and would be happy to help. Have fun!
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby Bluewater » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:06 am

tomba wrote:In winter lakes tend to be not very scenic. They often become simply flat snowy plains surrounded by snowy slope, without distinct shore line.


I think there is something especially scenic about lakes in the winter. . .

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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby KathyW » Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:54 am

Most of my trips when there is snow has been in the spring and that's when lakes are especially scenic as they are starting to melt out with the blue icy water. I'm thinking that even in the winter when a lake is completely covered with snow, the basin around it will be very scenic. The places I've gone or will go in the spring when the snow is consolidated are different than what I think would make a nice winter snowshoe trek. In the winter I want it to be a gentler and shorter trek.

Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming. I have the ski and snowshoe books for the Sierra, but I really like to hear from others on what has worked for them or what they think would make a good day trip in the winter.

I do think this will be a good year to try to go out to Pear Lake and even wander up Rock Creek. I'd also like to check out the Twin Lakes area.
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Re: Good Snowshoe Routes?

Postby TahoeJeff » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:05 am

Don't forget about a SnoPark permit. I know they are required at Carson Pass and Echo, and I think the requirement went in to effect Nov. 1.
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