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Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's
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Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 20:20:07 MST Print View

Hello All!
I am looking for a good trip to do in the Sierras this early spring. I am hoping to get up there right around the end of the snow melt, but before all the mosquitoes start to hatch....I am shooting for sometime in mid or late April.

Any suggestions would be great!

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 20:37:50 MST Print View

What sort of milage? Are you looking for completely freeze of snow, or is some amount of snow (say as you go through a pass) ok? Are you looking for something on the east or west side of the sierras?


Lori P
(lori999) - F

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 20:58:57 MST Print View

Which side of the Sierras?

I usually head for Hetch Hetchy in mid-May. There's typically significant snow over 7-8,000 feet, lots and lots of water below. To go up at the end of snow melt, think July.

There will be mosquitoes before the snow melts ...

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 21:04:06 MST Print View

Hey Mark,
I am pretty flexible on the miles. Anywhere from 20 to 40 miles would be in a good range...give or take. I want to keep it on the West side of the Sierras. As for the amount of snow...nothing too much. I want to be able to hike through it, but not be knee deep or need snow shoes, and def not be freezing...although I know thats hard to plan for. Not just on the passes, but throughout the trail.
I know thats pretty vague, but to be honest im not 1oo% sure of what I am looking for. I have seen photos and read some blogs of people doing early spring trips and it looks like a blast, wanted to give it a try. I kind of envision it as hiking on cool but not freezing spring days through light snow.
Does that help/ give a better idea at all?


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 21:17:21 MST Print View

Check out one of the great valleys of the Sierra. The entire range can be open to those who want to get there in April. I've got a valley that I'd do, but I'm keeping it all to myself. As a hint, it's one of the "great" valleys of the range. Which valleys can compare to Yosemite?

I have not experienced troublesome post holing, nor the need for snowshoes in early spring. The troubles that I've encountered have been more along the lines of steep snow, sun cups, and raging streams.

Edited by Found on 01/08/2010 21:19:15 MST.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Early Spring in the Sierras on 01/08/2010 22:23:40 MST Print View

Tehipite Valley & Dome - via Rancheria TH/Wishon Reservior-
VERY REMOTE.. Late April and June

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/08/2010 22:44:21 MST Print View

I'm going to skip suggestions on specific areas and instead give you a snapshot of likely conditions and how they might impact your choice of route.
Firstly, you'll be dealing with lots of running water - in the streams and rivers and out of them. So planning a trip that keeps stream crossing to a minimum is a good idea, as the streams/creeks/rivers can be very dangerous to cross when running high.
Walking on snow at that time of year can be great as long as you get going early in the morning while things are firm, and don't plan on covering a lot of ground in the afternoon when the snow is at its softest.
Depending on the elevations you'll be at, I'd suggest being prepared to camp on snow, even though you'll likely be able to find bare spots.
Weather at that time of year can be almost anything. You have a great chance of having pleasantly warm afternoons and bright sun (and bring plenty of sunscreen, the sun on the snow is potent), but you can have rain, snow, anything. So be ready to enjoy whatever the skies bring.

You can keep tabs on the snow depth in the sierra on this site:
If the area you're looking at has remote sensors close by, you can see the snow water content in real time, and estimate the depth from that. If there aren't sensors close by, there are manual measurements taken at the end of each month. Very handy.
Footwear is a tricky question. You'll be on snow sometimes - mostly pretty wet snow - and on soggy ground often. So keeping the water out is definitely an issue. My trips at that time of year in the sierra are ski trips, at the higher elevations mostly, so I'm in plastic backcountry ski boots, and have little to offer in terms of advice on hiking footwear. I have to hike in my ski boots sometimes, mostly at the start and end of trips to get from trailhead to solid snow or back again, but they aren't what you'd want to hike in if you had a choice.
It's a great time to be out there. You'll have most places all to yourself and the mountains look great at that time of year.
Oh, and navigation without a trail should be something you're good at, as the trails may be covered. Have fun!

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/09/2010 16:20:49 MST Print View

Paul, thanks for the great tips! I will def put them to use.

Jay.....I have been trying to find some info about that trip you suggested...but I cant seem to find much about it. I found the lake near the trail head, but cant find much about the trail head itself or trial for that matter.

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Little yosemite valley? on 01/11/2010 18:24:28 MST Print View

Hey what would you think of Little Yosemite Valley, and Merced lake. Loop up towards the JMT and make it a loop? Would that be good for an early spring trip? it seems to be relatively low elevation. I know its normally a really crowded spot, but do you think it would be less crowded that time of the year?

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
little yosemite Valley on 01/11/2010 19:48:52 MST Print View

Or what about Illioutte Canyon?

Kent C.
(kent) - M

Locale: High Sierra
Early spring location in Seirra Nevada's on 01/12/2010 02:02:43 MST Print View

Jim MacDiarmid wrote about his trip last year to LYV at the time you're thinking, I believe; you can search for it if interested. As I recall, he had a little snow, not bad. Check his TR, don't trust my memory on this one.

If you loop to the JMT, expect, very possibly, significant snow and post-holing around Sunrise HSC. I had a hike planned for that area last June (~12th) but re-routed due to snow.


Good Luck & have Fun!

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
change of dates on 01/12/2010 13:28:23 MST Print View

So, I looked more closely at my dates and talked to the people I am going with, and it looks like we are thinking of going more around the third or forth week of March....a little earlier that I expected. I noticed Jims TR or Little Yosemite Valley was in May, and it looked pretty dry. What would you think it would be like it March?

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: change of dates on 01/12/2010 22:35:59 MST Print View

In March, Little Yosemite will be pretty much solid snow if it's the usual snowpack. In late march, usually you'd have to be below about 5 or 6,000 feet to find anything mostly snow-free. You may want to head south, head for the desert, head for the coast, or make it a ski trip!