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Early Spring Eastern Sierras
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Joseph Raymundo
(jlrray) - F

Locale: Pacific Southwest
Early Spring Eastern Sierras on 03/21/2013 00:18:39 MDT Print View

My buddy and I have been planning on taking a small trip to the Eastern sierras at the end of April. What we're looking at doing is scouting out locations where we can bring our younger (6 & 7 y/o) fly fishing and backpacking. Although I've been through the sierras my whole life, I hadn't gone backpacking anywhere in the area in April. Basically we'd like to find a few lakes to start with within a few miles of the trailhead (my son has gone 2.5 with plenty of elevation climb, but thats about it). Anyone got a recommendation for what would be good to try? We contemplated going to the southern end, but the hikes are pretty far for the kids I think .

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Palisade Area on 03/21/2013 08:19:14 MDT Print View

North Fork of Big Pine creek, up towards North Palisade may work.
I think its 5 miles in to Third Lake, so Second Lake and First Lake are definitely less.
An added plus is you may get to check out the old cabin if its open when you pass by.
I'm not a fisherman so don't know about the fish.

Of course the fishing in the Mammoth Lakes area requires practically no hiking at all.


Edited by asandh on 03/21/2013 08:33:36 MDT.

Joseph Raymundo
(jlrray) - F

Locale: Pacific Southwest
Re: Palisade Area on 03/21/2013 13:57:07 MDT Print View

I'll take a look at that area... Been trying to decipher the snow pack reports but at least in the valley, the snow has pretty much all melted so I have a better idea of what the weather is doing. The kids have been up and through mammoth lakes as well. last year we pegged their max comfort level at 2.5 miles with a moderate climb. I'm hoping setting up shop somewhere out there will at least make them feel like they aren't moving on teh trail the whole time. BUT... i still want them packing in. Thank you.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
expect to see some snow on 03/21/2013 19:35:53 MDT Print View

You should expect to see a fair amount of snow. Late April is the prime time for backcountry skiing. Of course it's a mystery at this point what the snowline will be in late april, but typically it will start right at the trailhead. So far this year is below average, and particularly at lower elevations. The last Saturday in April is the opening day of trout season on the east side, and a number of roads that are closed for the winter get opened for that.

South Lake,North Lake,Onion Valley, Horseshoe Meadows - all have nice lakes fairly close to the trailhead. But whether you'll be able to drive to any of those trailheads in late April - there's no telling.

Some of the roads you can find out about on the caltrans website, others you need to contact Inyo county or Inyo National forest.

Joseph Raymundo
(jlrray) - F

Locale: Pacific Southwest
I'll keep looking on 03/21/2013 23:07:01 MDT Print View

I may have to check things out closer to Big Pine or even on the southern sierras since we'll be there a week before the Trout opener on April 27th. The funny thing about exploring new places *which we all love to do* is that there are very few things to read about online... catch 22 I suppose. Still on the search I guess. Thanks for the suggestions so far.

stephen jennings
(obi96) - F

Locale: Deep in the Green Mountains
Re: Palisade Area on 03/23/2013 19:39:56 MDT Print View

I brought a pole to both 1st and 2nd lakes. They were very skiddish in 1st lake even though they were 6' from the bank. I had much better luck on the SW side of 2nd lake. Maybe 10, 6- 8 inchers in a couple of hours. That was late July time frame though. BTW there is an "Indiana Jones " type bridge you must cross to get to the South side. Watch your step.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Onion valley on 03/24/2013 05:39:30 MDT Print View

The onion valley trailhead is at 9k and puts you a very short distance from very nice country. (Call FS to make sure road is open). I did an April snowshoe out of there in 2010, bit more snow than this year. There were a couple of groups that hiked in and built igloos. Don't know whether you're to snow camping but this could be an easy and cool place to do it.

There are several lakes up in that area, no clue if they are known for fishing.

Edited by gg-man on 03/24/2013 05:40:38 MDT.

Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Early Spring Eastern Sierras on 03/25/2013 00:52:26 MDT Print View

If there's no snow than you could try Gem lakes 3.5 miles and 650 incline with some of the best scenery for such a short hike.

There is also Tyee lakes, but this is a much steeper climb, maybe a 1 less miles to the first lake, I've always had good luck at both locations when catching fish, but like some have said, I was fishing later in the season.

I would check with the the Bishop Ranger Station first for conditions,


This was in Sept. we didn't go to Gem lakes that weekend, but this is the same trail head starting off.

Gem lakes

Gem lakes

This is looking down at Heart lake, one of many lakes along this trail, you don't even have to go all the way to Gem lakes, there are streams and lakes all along the trail.

Gem lakes

These were taken from the trail that leads to Ruby lake, which is a higher trail, so we were looking down at the trail to Gem lakes and Heart lake.


Edited by jumpbackjack on 03/25/2013 00:57:28 MDT.

Joseph Raymundo
(jlrray) - F

Locale: Pacific Southwest
Thanks on 03/27/2013 00:24:22 MDT Print View

This is a great starting point. I'm just gonna roll with it and see what I can find... I'll make sure I post up.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Thanks on 03/30/2013 00:44:19 MDT Print View

I was in Bishop two weeks ago for some spring break climbing and the snow line is pretty high right now. It's at least at 8,000ft. The road to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest (up to 11,500ft on the east side of Owens) was even intermittently open which supposedly never happens in March.

Mammoth Lakes had little snow aside from snow plow piles in the shade. Unless they get a big snow dump or two in the next month I would expect that everything will be pretty snow free out in the open (of course the snow and ice in the shaded forests will still be sporadic starting at 7K).

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Onion Valley on 03/30/2013 07:40:17 MDT Print View

Some of the lakes out of Onion Valley have been returned to their natural state, the fish have been gill netted to remove the fish, there is a resource to tell you which lakes are now fishless in the Sierra. Good luck.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Melting Fast! Re:Early Spring Eastern Sierras on 04/15/2013 15:18:13 MDT Print View

Skied Mammoth the first week in April, then hiked Whitney last weekend 4/12-14.

I've now been up Whitney the past four Aprils. This year there is WAY less snow than even last year. Although there has been more total precip this year than last in many areas, it came earlier and has seen a lot more melt.

On Whitney the snow level is over 10,000' on North facing slopes and above the peaks on many South facing slopes.