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NorCal weekend hike, lower Sierras?
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Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
NorCal weekend backpacking, lower Sierras? on 05/04/2011 09:17:35 MDT Print View

Was planning on heading down to Death Valley to check out the wildflowers this weekend but it seems like they didnt get enough rain for a good bloom this year.

Backup plan is a lower sierra trip, I was up by Groveland a few weeks ago and it seemed thawed out at that elevation.

Can someone recommend a nice weekend backpacking trip near Yosemite that isnt snow-packed? Would be leaving Friday afternoon and getting back Sunday.

I was thinking about that Rancheria Falls loop in Hetch Hetchy if the conditions are right. Hopefully it wont be too crowded on the weekend.

Edited by defrag4 on 05/04/2011 09:21:34 MDT.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"NorCal weekend hike, lower Sierras?" on 05/04/2011 09:48:22 MDT Print View

We were at Rancheria Falls last weekend.

We arrived at the Ranger Station at about 10:00 am or so and they still had about 2/3 of the permits remaining. The trail out to Rancheria is all clear, but they said there is still a lot of snow if you leave the valley towards Tiltill/Lake Vernon.

There are a LOT of people as far out as Wapama Falls, but not so much after that.

It's a mellow hike with mellow views, but it's a nice weekend out.

Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 05/04/2011 10:31:54 MDT Print View

Thanks Dave, I was just looking at Tony's pictures from an older trip to Lake Vernon and was planning on checking that out instead. If its still snowed out I might have to change my plans.

Edited by defrag4 on 05/04/2011 10:54:23 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Tiltill and Beehive on 05/04/2011 11:52:15 MDT Print View

If you are heading out of Hetchy Hetchy this time of year you will likely run into very wet and swampy conditions in both of these areas if they are snow free. Tiltill Valley is very cool and would make a great destination. When you get there head to the west over TilTill Creek. There are some great meadows to camp and explore. If you're into off-trail you can head out straight down Tiltill Creek though it is a fairly rugged and wet trek, but very cool.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
outside Yosemite on 05/04/2011 13:57:03 MDT Print View

Preston Falls has to be in good condition about now. That is above Early Intake Powerhouse and below Hetch Hetchy.


Chuck Cheese
(defrag4) - F
re on 05/09/2011 20:02:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips guys, ended up heading to Hetchy Hetchy on Friday night, got up to Groveland or so and carcamped off a forest road near Hardin Flat. Got up the next morning and headed to the HH ranger station. Ranger said Rancheria Falls was packed, I asked about Lake Vernon, snowed out. She suggested we hike up to Miguel Meadows/Gravel Pit Lake.

We got our permit, our massive bear can, and hit the trail. About .5 of a mile from the trailhead AKA the dam, we left the crowds behind and headed up about 4 miles of switchbacks then 3 or so easy miles to Gravel Pit lake. Still a bit of snow on the ground but pleasant temps during the day, got down to around ~40 or so at night. We only ran into 2 other dayhikers the entire trip. Just the way we like it :)

Pulled the camera out when we first got started crossing the dam, dead battery :( So sorry no pics.

The switchbacks were not too bad and once you cross over to the opposite side of the mountain the scenery changes into gorgeous pines, redwoods, and lovely sierra wilderness. The wildflowers are also blooming all over the place.

Get out there!

Scott Gustafson
(Scott_Gus) - F

Locale: Northern California
Nice on 05/14/2011 18:16:19 MDT Print View

I think after reading this I will head out there sometime in June. It will be a lot more crowded but hopefully not to bad after you leave the dam area.

Thanks for the report!!