Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

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LeggettLama
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Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by LeggettLama » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:49 am

Hi, I'm new to the forum, and I'm looking for tips on nice places in and around Yosemite to do a 2 night, 3 day backpacking trip, either in the late spring or early fall. I am a level II backpacker, and at the moment am interested in class I terrain. I like lakes, forests, big mountain scenery, and few other backpackers, tho, I don't know if that last one is possible at Yosemite. Between 5 and 10 miles a day would be nice. I've done a fair amount of day hiking in Northern California and in Montana, and last year I thru-hiked the whole 50 mile Lost Coast Trail, both Northern and Southern sections, in 4 days. I feel like it was the start of something, and I'm itching to get out and see a bit more of our beautiful state. I will go with a friend and no dog. Any suggestions you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!








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balzaccom
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by balzaccom » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:54 am

The challenge in spring and fall is the weather. You are likely to get storms and snow even at lower elevations. Tioga Road is usually closed (it is now, and won't open until summer of 2019 in all likelihood) But with that in mind, here are a few options:

The trailheads in Emigrant Wilderness, just to the North of Yosemite, are also closed by snow. But often you can hike the forest service roads, which are closed to traffic. We've hiked the Eagle Meadows and Herring Creek Roads during the spring or fall, and had lovely hikes, These would be between about 4 miles and … as far as you want to hike?

If you are lucky with the weather, the North Rim of Yosemite Valley can be open for backpacking. It means a steep climb at the beginning, and another steep drop at the end, but still... Try hiking up Yosemite Falls trail, heading east along the rim, and then descending via the Snow Creek trail. Because this rim gets more sunshine, it is usually open earlier in the spring, too.

In late spring, there is a nice overnight hike to Hite Cove, which includes amazing wildflowers and some old mining equipment as well. But the fires last year may have made this a very different experience,.

Finally, look at Henry Coe State Park south of San Jose. It's a huge state park, and has lots of options for backpacking, The trails are steep in places, but we've had good luck finding lakes to camp without many other people. And you can't beat the sort drive from the Bay Area!
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:10 am

Spring and Fall are times of changing conditions. What exactly do you mean by these? It will make a big difference on where you can go. Also, what is your tolerance for snow on the ground? There area lot of good routes you can do before the snow totally melts, but you have to be willing to walk on snow, on wet trails, and need to be able to navigate around snow stretches and stay on or near the trail in order to get back on the trail when it is dry. When you say "around Yosemite" can you elaborate how far you are willing do drive? Would you consider Desolation Wilderness? What about east-side trailheads, such as Hoover Wilderness out of Bridgeport?

I have done the entire Lost Coast several times- few people do the entire thing. Your 4-days is pretty fast. Given that I think you could easily do more than 10 miles a day on good trails in Yosemite.

I have done a lot in Henry Coe and to me, it is a winter backpacking area, as is Point Reyes. Fall in Henry Coe is not very feasible since a lot of the water sources dry up and do not start flowing again until the rains start. My favorite time is Feb-March. By mid-April it can get a bit hot.

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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by maverick » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:11 pm

Welcome to HST!
Hi, I'm new to the forum, and I'm looking for tips on nice places in and around Yosemite to do a 2 night, 3 day backpacking trip, either in the late spring or early fall.

If your willing to wait till Tioga Road opens (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ ... =528229161), and go up the first or second weekend after it opens, the Grand Grand of the Tuolumne puts on the best water show in all the Sierra!
California Falls, Glen Aulin Falls, Tuolumne Falls, LeConte Falls, and Waterwheel Falls are at their best at the height of the Spring run-off, a very special show put on by mother nature.
Would highly recommend that you try to plan your trip around a full moon, the falls by moonlight is eerie, mesmerizing, and spectacular, all rolled into one. :nod:
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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c9h13no3
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:17 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:10 am
Spring and Fall are times of changing conditions. What exactly do you mean by these? It will make a big difference on where you can go.
Pretty much this. Timing is everything.

For spring, watch the snow depth map to see which areas have melted out (or if you're into skiing/snowshoes, which areas haven't). Low elevation areas melt out first, and places in Yosemite like Kibbie Lake, Lake Vernon (both at 6500') are good early season spots. And the Shingle Springs trail head (for Kibbie Lake) and Hetchy Hetchy areas are less crowded than the parts of the park near Tuolumne Meadows or Yosemite Valley. Of course, many would argue they're not as pretty either.

Fall is easier. Just watch the weather, don't go if it's too cold, and keep your trips shorter. Snow pack obviously isn't an obstacle at that point. Just put your water filter in your sleeping bag with you so it doesn't freeze.
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by longri » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:32 pm

Late spring / early Fall -- what do you mean exactly?

In the U.S. we use the astronomical seasons. So late Spring would be the first few weeks of June. Tioga Pass is usually open and you can often do quite a bit, provided it hasn't been a big snow year. Early Fall would be the end of September into the first part of October. That can be a great time but occasionally snow on the northern aspects makes travel problematic. Plus you have to plan for shorter days, sometimes kind of cold, and the possibility of a winter-like storm.

In some parts of the world the meteorological seasons are used instead. In that instance late Spring is that latter part of May and the odds of snow being an issue are much higher. Early Fall, on the other hand, is the first part of September, one of the best times of the year to be in the High Sierra.

So it depends.

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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by LeggettLama » Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:57 am

Thank you all! I work June-August, so I was thinking anything outside of that. Say May or September. I don't mind a drive. I live in Leggett, CA, so just getting to El Portal takes 6 1/2 hours. Any word on Chain Lakes? The North Rim, Desolation Wilderness, and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne all sound like great choices! I'm mostly interested in breathtaking natural beauty... As long as I don't freeze my keister off, can I go wrong in these parts? Not so interested in hiking in snow yet... need friends who have more experience than I in that department, but I guess that is what this forum is for, right?

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LeggettLama
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by LeggettLama » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:02 am

Thanks Balzaccom, Daisy, Maverick, c9h13no3, and Longri! I didn't expect to get this much of a response!

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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by balzaccom » Fri Nov 30, 2018 7:55 am

You asked your question in the right place!
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Re: Looking for Spring/Fall Backpacking

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:49 am

Have you thought about Trinity Alps. It would be closer to you, great for 2-3 day trips and it has some areas that are similar in scenery to Emigrant or Desolation. An in-and-out up Canyon Creek is an example. Marble Mountains are smaller but also have a few stunning routes.

Given May is your latest Spring month, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is feasible once Tioga Pass opens, but you would be walking through snow to get from Glen Aulin to Tioga Road. A better bet would be to go up the Merced River, North Rim or South Rim. Lots of trip reports here. Once Glacier Point Road opens, you can do some nice loops. There even is a bus (costs about $20) that goes from the valley to Glacier Point.

In September you can basically do any route you would do in summer; only difference is a bit colder, shorter days. For a 2-3 day trip, just check the weather report before going. Good trips from Tioga Road. Valley trailheads could be hot early Sept. Again, just keep an eye on weather reports. The biggest constraint is having only 2-3 days. Vernon Lake loop from Hetch Hetchy is a great loop, pretty rigorous for 3 day trip. September is great for Desolation- this wilderness area is very compact and well suited for shorter trips. East side trailheads (Echo Lake, Glen Alpine, Bayview and Eagle Lake) off the more spectacular scenery. A word of warning- Desolation is quite crowded, best to go mid-week. Best short trips in Emigrant are from Kennedy Meadows TH. Emigrant Lake and Buck Lake are good. Good loop: Middle Emigrant Lake via Brown Bear Pass, Emigrant Lake, back via Mosquito Pass. If energetic, day-hike down to Buck Lakes. If willing to do some moderately difficult off-trail, go up to Lewis Lakes.

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