I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

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I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by dubji » Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:01 pm

Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster. I have been struggling for a while now to find a good loop for my 6 person group. We've somewhat settled on the Kings Cayon/Palisades areas since we have never been, but we are open to all suggestions! We are from the Sacramento area and can commute about 7 hours. The information below is answered by me on behalf of the entire group.

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 3- Numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country
- Class 3 terrain/pass/x-country
- River crossings

What is your main interest?
I put these in rough order of importance
- Big Mountain scenery
- Lakes
- Forests

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
4 nights, 5 days but we must hit the trail on Day 1 and be back at the car at end of day 5
How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
We are all pretty athletic people so we can handle a good distance and elevation change. 10 miles a day with average elevation change should be comfortable, but we can do more. We are open to spending two nights in the same spot so long as theres something to do around that area like day hikes or swimming.

Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip?
We prefer a loop but are open to anything
Is there a particular area in the Sierra that your most interested in(Yosemite, SEKI
western sierra start or eastern start ect.)?
We are open to all areas but have been looking at the Kings Canyon area since none of us have been before.
Will you be hiking with a dog?

We really want a 5 day loop that features a summit with good views, solitude, water to swim/wade in, and meadows, in that order of priority. We are athletic people who can travel at a decent pace. Our trip will be from June 26 to July 1st so we need to pick a place soon. We have some that we could do, but we aren't in love with any of them which is why I am posting here. Please let me know if you need more information, I will be checking back as often as possible until a place is decided upon.

Thanks in advance for the help!

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by LMBSGV » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:41 pm

The obvious suggestion is the South Lake-North Lakes loop. You'll need two cars, but with 6 people and gear I'm assuming that's the case.

Day 1: Dusy Basin

Day 2: One of the lakes below Muir Pass - they are a couple near the trail and a couple further off that are easy to reach or you could stay at Helen Lake though the other lakes are preferable in my opinion.

Day 3: Sapphire or Evolution Lake

Day 4: Darwin Bench

Day 5: Over Lamarck Col to North Lake

The other suggestion is a Palisade Basin loop, which would involve more difficult cross-country travel, especially this time of year.

Day 1: Dusy Basin

Day 2: Grouse Meadow or Palisade Basin (Grouse Meadow may be mosquito hell this time of year so you'd want to make it to Palisade Lakes that day, which is doable.)

Day 3: Palisade Lakes or Palisade Basin

Day 4. Palisade Basin

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by wildhiker » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:45 pm

Hi Dubji,

If you really are as fit as you say, here are a couple of trips that I would take 6 to 7 days to do at my advanced age :) but you could probably do in 5. These are westside trailheads, which should be five to six hours drive from Sacramento.

Plan A: Sequoia National Park - Silliman Pass - Deadman Canyon - Elizabeth Pass - HST loop. Nice lakes at the beginning, then a long (but easy) slog through the forest to a spectacular canyon leading to a high pass with good close views of the 13k+ Kaweah Peaks and the Great Western Divide. Middle section little used - since it's a long way from a trailhead! Bear canisters required. Check with the park about snow conditions on Elizabeth Pass. This timing might work:

Day 1 - drive early to Lodgepole in Sequoia, get your permit there, then up the trail to Twin Lakes just short of Silliman Pass, or if you have energy, over the pass and down to Ranger Lake.
Day 2 - a long long slog, mostly downhill or rolling, north down Sugarloaf Creek and over to Roaring River.
Day 3 - up Deadman Canyon to camp in the upper basin.
Day 4 - over Elizabeth Pass, down past Bearpaw Meadows (too crowded), and camp somewhere to the west on the High Sierra Trail, say Buck Cr.
Day 5 - west on HST and then over Panther Gap to Wolverton. Great views again from Panther Gap. Send the strongest person down the trail to Lodgepole while the rest wait for their ride at Wolverton.

Plan B: Evolution Valley to Goddard Canyon semi-loop from Florence Lake. This gets into one of the most magnificent high parts of the Sierra, in my opinion (and that of many others). Interesting cross-country in the middle. Would normally be too early end June/early July, but probably OK this year. Check my website for description of the route: http://www.wildhiker.com/evolutiongoddard04" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. Get an early start so you can reach Florence Lake to get a mid-day ferry ride across the lake so you have several hours to hike on the first day. Then these campsites might work for you:
Night 1 - Somewhere near Piute Creek
Night 2 - MacClure Meadow or Colby Meadow in Evolution Valley
Night 3 - Davis Lakes or the meadow below them on the west
Night 4 - At the PCT/JMT bridge over San Joaquin River where it heads up to Evolution Creek, or a bit lower down.

Get an early start on the last day to make sure to catch the ferry back over the lake! Last run is 4:30 pm.


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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:01 am

If you do wildhiker's "planA" be sure to at least do a 2-3 hour side-trip up to Hamilton Lake.

Here is another idea. I did most of this last year. From Kings Canyon, Roads End. Part "Woods Lake Loop" and part off-trail variations.

Day 1- drive and go up to Charlotte Creek or Junction Meadow.

Day 2: over Glen Pass and into 60 Lakes Basin -very long day- but you can camp at Rae Lakes for shorter day- if you can make it on to 60 Lakes there is a lot more peace and quiet.

Day 3 - day hike into Gardnier Basin - OR stay at Rae Lakes and day-hike Dragon lakes

Day 4 - down through 60 Lakes - over Arrow Pass and continue down and camp in the Castle Domes Valley.

Day 5 - out and drive home

Another Road's End trip:

Day 1 drive and hike Bubbs Creek, camp at Bubbs Cr/Sphinx Creek campsite.

Day 2 up Sphinx Trail, then off-trail (read guidebook description - part bushwhack mostly use-trail) to Sphinx Lakes - leaves time for some day hiking in the basin

Day 3 over pass to Brewer Basin, camp at Big Brewer Lake, probably time to climb Mt Brewer. Big Brewer Lake - camp at outlet -- the absolutely best sunsets!

Day 4 over pass to South Guard Lake , and steep off-trail down Cunningham Creek (I came up this- going down would be much easier) to Roaring Fork Trail - camp at Roaring Fork

Day 5 out via Avalanche Pass (I have done this with a full pack going in and it took 9 hours - with light packs you could probably go out in 6-7 hours if you are very strong hikers).

OR just return via Sphinx Creek from Brewer Basin. Both Sphinx Lakes and Brewer Basin are really nice, remote and worth spending some time. Good fishing in Sphinx Lakes.

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by SSSdave » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:32 am

I'd stick to your noted Palisades choice and work on that some more. Am guessing your intent is to hike in from South Lake over into Dusy Basin? From there one can continue cross country on over Knapsack to the Barrett Lakes and then over Potluck Pass to Twin Lakes. From there either return the same way or loop down to the middle fork of the Kings and then back up to Dusy. Many new backpackers have a mindset that unless they have a loop itinerary the route may be boring. Such a notion is quite misplaced. One could easily simply hike into Dusy Basin and base campe there four days and find lots of interesting activities to enjoy each day. So if your intent is to simple visit each location briefly and move on always just hiking, you are barely getting to know some of these magnificent places as there is often much more and there can be much more to being out there than simply carrying a backpack from one camp spot all day to the next.

I would suggest getting a copy of the popular classic Sierra South, spending hours reading through:

http://www.amazon.com/Sierra-South-Wild ... 0899970656" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by Hobbes » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:33 pm

We really want a 5 day loop that features a summit with good views, solitude, water to swim/wade in, and meadows, in that order of priority.
I'm with WD, this sounds like a sure recipe for the Rae lakes loop, whether modified (as she suggests) or standard.

Unfortunately, while you will get good views, water to swim/wade in & meadows, you most definitely won't be getting much solitude.

After my last trip, I hitched a ride from a ranger back to my car (service to remain unmentioned), who regularly goes up & over the most difficult east side & off-trail passes as part of his survey responsibilities.

We were discussing certain passes of the SHR, of which he mentioned many now have use trails. Whether due to Roper, Skurka or a general movement to lighter & more adventurous, there's gonna be people in them thar hills.

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by Ska-T » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:52 pm

Mosquito Flat to McGee Creek

From Sac it isn't that long a drive to go over to the east side and down 395. Day 1 - Spot one car at the McGee Creek TH. Park the other car and start the hike at the Mosquito Flat TH. Go over Mono Pass, past Summit Lake and off trail down to Golden Lake. Day 2 - Follow the outlet and go down Golden Creek. Meet up with the trail and follow it down Mono Creek. Pass the Pioneer Basin and Hopkins Creek trails going off to the north until you are just about opposite the Second Recess. Head north on the trail to Laurel Lake. Depending on how good you are reading the faint trail you may be off trail as you near Laurel Lake. Camp there or at the larger lake above, Grinnell Lake. Day 3 - Go up off trail past Little Grinnell Lake up and over Pace Col. Drop down to Red and White Lake and follow the outlet, Fish Creek, down until you can make your way over to Tulley Lake. Day 4 (lay over) - Day hike over to Izaack Walton Lake (and maybe even Hortense Lake). Day 5 - Find the McGee Pass trail and hike east over McGee Pass, past Little and Big McGee Lakes and back to the spotted car.
Last edited by Ska-T on Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by sparky » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:29 pm

One trip I have wanted to do is taboose pass to bench lake in 2 days, then day hike from there.... one day to explore lakes basin, and then a day to arrow peak, then the last day back out.

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Re: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by maverick » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:25 pm

Hi Dubji,

Welcome to HST!
Your first choice is a fine one, especially with 4 nights. Dusy Basin and Palisade Basin
are some beautiful locations. As SSSDave mentioned one could spend several days
exploring Dusy Basin alone, but unfortunately most backpackers are in a rush to
other locations and just pass through it without exploring its many hidden beauties.
Your group could easily make Lake 11393 with an early start, and spend the rest of the
day exploring the basin. Then go over Thunderbolt Pass to Barrett Lakes, and climb
Columbine Peak to get the sunset views. This class 2 peak has the best views of the
Palisades in the basin.
If your into climbing peaks than your next morning you could go climb Giraud Peak
which is also a class 2, and has outstanding views south, west, and north.
Then climb Knapsack Pass (easy class 1) and set up camp in the lower part of Dusy
Basin, exploring it and Wonder Lakes. If you not into climbing than stay at Lake
11393 for 2 nights instead so you can enjoy and explore this part of Dusy Basin.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

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.

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: I'm really struggling to find a nice 5 Day loop in Californi

Post by dubji » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:58 pm

I want to thank everyone for the awesome responses! I am going to share all this information with my group tonight and tomorrow and I will get back to you if we have any questions. I like all the suggestions you have made so I'd be fine with just narrowing it down with the group, thanks a lot again!

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