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Best Sierra Hike in 7 days.
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Dj Riddle
(Dj3452) - F

Locale: Smokies
Best Sierra Hike in 7 days. on 01/13/2011 11:08:46 MST Print View

Hello, I am new to backpacking,currently live in Knoxville and will be trekking numerous outings in the Smokies this year. My brother and I want to spend a week out west. We will be out there for about 9 days. Does anyone have any good itinerarie ideas? We could split in to 2 trips over the week. Any ideas would be great, this will be sometime next summer, but we are trying to plan ahead. Thanks!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
JMT Lite on 01/13/2011 11:20:25 MST Print View

If you want the "best of the best" (IMHO) I would hike the JMT between Muir Trail Ranch and Whitney. Challenge would be getting transport between the Start and Finish. One option may be to start at Lake Sabrina and head over Piute Pass and pick up the JMT at Piute Canyon (near MTR) Head south as far as you want, several options depending on your daily mileage. You could head all the to Whitney or bail at the Onion Valley TH near Independence. There are several other options as well. When done you would have to hitch a ride down to 395 and there are buses that run up the Owens Valley.

This is likely some of the best terrain in the Sierras. Another 7 day option would be the 168mile Tahoe Rim Trail. If that mileage is too high you could cut off one of the segments and take a bus as needed to complete the loop.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: JMT Lite on 01/13/2011 12:44:24 MST Print View

"One option may be to start at Lake Sabrina and head over Piute Pass and pick up the JMT at Piute Canyon (near MTR)"

A similar alternative is to start near Lake Sabrina at South Lake, head over Bishop Pass, and pick up the JMT in LeConte Canyon.


Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
+1 Greg and Bob on 01/13/2011 13:05:55 MST Print View

That is one great stretch of one great trail

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
more info on 01/13/2011 14:27:20 MST Print View

can we get some more info. How many miles do you hike a day? Do you like to fish? Do you like doing off trail hiking? will you have a car to get you to a trail head?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: JMT Lite on 01/13/2011 18:02:57 MST Print View

"A similar alternative is to start near Lake Sabrina at South Lake, head over Bishop Pass, and pick up the JMT in LeConte Canyon."

Or another great trip is to start at Piute pass head up the JMT, over Muir Pass and exit out Bishop Pass. Would make a great loop and allow side trips up Goddard Canyon, a day up Darwin Bench, a day trip further down Leconte Canyon, Dusy Basin and countless others. You could customize for any length trip and it would have both LeConte Canyon and Evolution Canyon to visit. Two of my favorite Sierra places.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: JMT Lite on 01/13/2011 18:45:12 MST Print View

Greg's suggestion about Evolution Valley is good. The only trick is in trying to hit the season just right for wildflowers. Since this year is beginning to shape up like a good snow year, I'm guessing about the third week of July.

If you need to inject a little extra adventure in there, start up Piute Pass, but swing over and go over Lamarck Col. That drops you down through Darwin Canyon and you intercept the JMT there.

Although, Bishop Pass and Dusy Basin looks good. The whole darned place is great, if you hit the season right.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
A little further south on 01/13/2011 20:36:53 MST Print View

Another option would be to go in over Kearsarge Pass, pick up the JMT, head south over Forester Pass to the Kern Canyon connector trail, and head west to the trail coming up out of Kern Canyon. There are numerous places to set up a camp there and explore the Upper Kern Basin and Milestone Basin for 2-3 days before retracing your steps to the JMT. From there pick up the trail leading out over Shepherd Pass. From the Shepherd Pass TH, you could walk about 3 miles to the Onion Valley Road and hitch a ride back up to your car at the Kearsarge Pass TH. Alternatively, arrange for a shuttle to meet you at the Shepherd Pass TH. Also, as an alternative to visiting the Upper Kern, you could take the JMT further south coming off Forester Pass and spend a couple of days exploring Wallace Lake Basin and Wright Lakes Basin before heading out over Shepherd Pass. Actually, if you don't mind moderately high mileage days, say ~15 miles/day you could string all these areas together in one 7 day trip, but I think you'd miss a lot by hurrying through.

Dj Riddle
(Dj3452) - F

Locale: Smokies
7 Day Hike on 01/13/2011 20:44:41 MST Print View

First off, I am new to this sport, and this site. This site is a gold mine of information and the responses are great. I am guessing our miles per day will be around 8-15 depending on the terrain. Parts of the JMT were my first instinct, but I have no idea what the best parts would be, but some of those suggestions I will have to check out, you all through out a lot of names and trails I am unfamiliar with, so I will have to look into all those. Tahoe Rim Trail was another option but after seeing some pictures it looked like there were ski lifts and I feel there may not be the best experience of the west, But it is great to know you can get off the loop if we didn't complete it, Tahoe is still an option.

I do feel the JMT would be the best way to experience the Sierras. I can't wait too look up your suggestions. We may even extend the trip a day or two longer if we find something we like.

Dj Riddle
(Dj3452) - F

Locale: Smokies
Sierra on 01/13/2011 20:49:51 MST Print View

DAN, like in my previous entry, I am guessing our miles will be between 8-15. I don't believe we will fish, but that sounds like it could be an idea. Off trail hiking, with our inexperience we will most likely stick to a trail, and we will rent a car, but won't have anyone picking us up, since we our from the east, we will park and leave it....

How tough is it to get permits in the JMT area?

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Bear creek to muir trail ranch on 01/13/2011 22:32:15 MST Print View

One of my favorite spots is in the John Muir Wilderness. You start by going up bear creek, and intersect with the JMT. Cruise along the JMT and you can cut off to hit a ton of spots like seven gables and bear lakes basin, rose lake and rose bud lake, lou beverly and medley lakes. Then hit Marie Lake, go over Seldon pass and then down to heart lake, sallie Keys lake. Finally down towards the muir trail ranch and you can end your last night at the hot springs there. Its a beautiful hike, with great scenery, and somewhat mellow terrain. You can make it as long or as short as you want....with tons of little side trips. You would start near mono hotsprings and end at Florence Lake. It would be easy enough to thumb a ride back to your car at mono hotspings.

Another awesome hike in that area would be to start at Edison lake and head up to Margrit Lakes, then down to fish creek and iva bell hot springs, and then to graveyard lakes and back down to Edison Lake.

Both of those are some of my favorite spots in the sierras, with great trails, scenery and lakes. The first is a semi loop type trip, and the second is a full loop so you wouldnt have to worry about pick ups or anything.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Best Sierra Hike in 7 days. on 01/13/2011 22:47:05 MST Print View

As several others have suggested, do a section of the JMT. The entry and exit I would suggest is North Lake and South Lake. With a bit of road walking you can turn it into a funny shaped loop which can address transport issue. There are part that will have to be on the JMT super highway (like through le conte canyon), but there are several places you could also go cross country. you get evolution, a hot spring, some nice lakes, a few passes, muir cabin. All great.

But there are lots of good options. There are several site which have good trip descriptions with pictures that might pull you to one destination or another. I have never been good at doing trip reports, but i have a fair number of links near the top of my destinations page that point to people who have written things up.


Edited by verber on 01/13/2011 22:52:33 MST.

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
muir cabin? on 01/13/2011 23:41:56 MST Print View

You mentioned "Muir Cabin"....where is that? and what exactly is it?

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: muir cabin?... should have said muir hut on 01/13/2011 23:48:49 MST Print View

Opps... I should have called it muir hut. It's a small cabin built out of stone in the middle of Muir Pass, very near the summit.

Second opps... I suggested basically the same thing greg did in his second post. when I was scrolling through responses I must have double tapped the space bar and missed his contibution.


Edited by verber on 01/14/2011 00:33:17 MST.

Robert Atwood
(Courtright) - F

Locale: Sierras
Rae Lakes on 01/20/2011 22:23:50 MST Print View

The Rae Lakes Loop might be an option. It won't leave you with any difficult travel arrangements to get back to the car and at 46 miles you can either take it nice and easy or pick up the pace a little and add in some side trips or day hikes.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Rae Lakes on 01/20/2011 22:58:13 MST Print View

"The Rae Lakes Loop might be an option. It won't leave you with any difficult travel arrangements to get back to the car and at 46 miles you can either take it nice and easy or pick up the pace a little and add in some side trips or day hikes."

If you are looking for a bit more than the 46 miles you could add a super high altitude loop to the Rae Lakes Loop by heading south out of Vidette Meadow and over Forester Pass. Continue south to the Sheperds Pass Trail and head est over Sheperds Pass. At the Pothole take the Junction Pass Trail over Junction Pass and down to the intersection with the JMT and back to Vidette Meadows. Junction and Forester are both 13,200 and Shepherds Pass is about 12k. Combined with Glenn you would have 4 passes above 12k.

The figure 8 is a total of 64 miles and you would have your fill of the high country. You may not find the Junction Pass Trail on some of the maps. It shows up on my GPS map software. Also, I went over Junction with 10' of snow so I have no first hand experience of the trail, I never saw it. But here is a picture from Junction Pass.

North from Junction Pass

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tehipite Valley to Lake Thomas Edison on 01/20/2011 23:56:40 MST Print View





Tehipite Valley to the JMT to Muir Pass to Evolution Valley to Lake Thomas Edison/VVR

100 miles as the crow flies. You can not get any remoter then the Tehipite Valley. I did not see anybody for the first three days.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Best Sierra Hike in 7 days. on 01/21/2011 08:33:07 MST Print View

Since you are a beginner, then I would leave it at doing The Rae Lakes Loop. You can fly into Fresno, and then rent a car. North Lake to South Lake or vice a versa is a fantastic hike and you get to see some beautiful terrain. Don't know how you are on altitude, but you will be climbing three passes over 11,000 feet. Dusy Basin is amazing and the suggestion of going into Darwin Bench and Canyon is pretty simple, but if you have no cross country experience, especially traveling on snow ie Lamarck Col, then I would say that is a no no. Kearsarge is a relatively easy pass that brings you into some beautiful terrain. Mt. Whitney is something like 27 miles or so and you would need to shuttle or hitch. With that said, I would do the Rae Lakes Loop. The beauty is amazing and the hiking pleasant. Once in the Rae Lakes area you can spend a couple of nights there and explore. You have 60 Lakes Basin and all the lakes from Dollar Lake to Rae Lakes to explore. The views from Glen Pass are amazing too!

Edited by kennyhel77 on 01/21/2011 08:34:10 MST.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
North Lake/South Lake Loop on 01/21/2011 15:01:48 MST Print View

For someone *new* to backpacking, I too would recommend the North Lake - South Lake loop, which is the same as the Piute Pass - Bishop Pass loop. Here's why:

* Some of the most spectacular scenery you can reach *on-trail* in the Sierras

* Choice. Once you're on the loop, if you're feeling humble or altitude-affected, you can just stick to the trail. On other days, you might feel more ambitious and willing to explore side canyons or off-trail. From north to south, the interesting off-trail places that come to mind are: Humphreys Basin, Darwin Canyon, McGee Canyon, Davis Lakes, Ionian Basin, Ladder Lake, Dusy Basin.

* Perfectly ideal for 9 days (for the reason given above).

* The East side! Your trail starts and ends on the eastern side of the Sierras, which is simply more spectacular than the west side. There is about 6000-8000 feet of dramatic relief from the 13-14k mountains down to the desert below. The Highway 395 through this area is beautiful to drive just by itself. If you start in the Bay Area or Sacramento, you access the eastside/395 by driving the Tioga Road through Yosemite, also a huge pleasure. Once on the East side you can check out Mono Lake, the Mobil Station/Whoa Nelly Deli in Lee Vining, stuff in the town of Mammoth, natural hot springs outside of Mammoth, and places like Schatt's Bakery in Bishop. There is nothing remotely equivalent to this experience on the Western side of the Sierra.

Get your permit well in advance! This is an extremely popular loop.

The trailheads at North Lake and South Lake are a few miles apart. We simply parked our car at one trailhead and hitched to the other. When we ended our trip, our car was there waiting at the exit trailhead. No need for complicated shuttle planning.

The Rae Lakes loop would be a remote second choice. That loop is not as diverse, it takes a bit longer to achieve the truly majestic backcountry, and it's a West side entry so you would not get to enjoy the Eastside landscape or the Yosemite drive-through. (Alternately, you could do a non-traditional, IMO prettier Rae Lakes loop from the *east* side, starting at Kearsarge Pass and ending at Baxter Pass. However, I would not recommend Baxter Pass for beginners! - and the shuttle is more complicated.)

- Elizabeth