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Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Where to "family backpack" in the Sierras on 05/29/2013 10:47:15 MDT Print View

I'm from Kentucky but will be in LA for my son's college orientation in mid-July. We decided to make it a family trip. I would like to spend about 3 days/nights in the Sierras. I'm pretty experienced backpacking in the east and have backpacked the Rockies some but have no experience in the Sierras.

But here's the deal. I think I can talk my family into about 3 days/nights in the Sierras. I don't think they'll want to do more than about 10 miles a day, maybe 12 at most. Also, elevation is a problem with my wife; I think we can go high for a pass but I think she needs to be lower (around 8,000 feet) for camp. But I would still like to see some amazing spots in the Sierras.

In a nutshell, I want a moderate southern Sierra hike with low areas to sleep but plenty of the grandness of the Sierras that we don't get here in the East. Any advice is appreciated.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Where to "family backpack" in the Sierras on 05/29/2013 11:23:13 MDT Print View

coming from LA,
low sleeping elevations ...

probably a west side entrance to the Sierra for sure.

I am much more familiar with eastside trailheads but I'm sure others will chime in soon.
but definitely/probably Kings Canyon area.

Angus A.
(mangus7175) - F

Locale: http://theshadedtrail.blogspot.com
Re: Where to "family backpack" in the Sierras on 05/29/2013 11:36:00 MDT Print View

How about Jennie Lakes? You can do a clockwise loop, starting at Weaver Lake then to Jennie Lake. Jennie Lakes ranges around 7000ft. to 9000ft. I believe.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 08:56:39 MDT Print View

@Art I'm willing to spend a night or 2 in the foothills prior to going up. I think we can do a moderately high pass so long as we get low for sleeping. I really think she will be fine at 10k-11k feet as long as we don't stay there. And there do seem to be some nice eastern trailheads in close proximity to nice areas. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

@Mangus Jennie Lake area looks fine elevation-wise. How is it as a location otherwise?

It sounds like I'm asking for a little of everything. And I am. I'd love to experience a little of the high country there with my clan. Hopefully some SoCal guys can help me out here.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 09:23:20 MDT Print View

Lots of Beautiful entrances from the Eastside.

skipping Whitney,
the next one up is out of Independence via Onion Valley.
trailhead is 9,000ft. up over 12,000ft Kearsarge Pass to beautiful backcountry. can camp relatively soon at 10,000 or hike a bit more to get below that. this takes you south on JMT to Vidette Meadow and Forester Pass, or north to Rae Lakes area.
it is fairly easy to get a permit out of Onion Valley especially mid week. I think its 60-40 reservation and walkin.

if you want an out and back, one of the nicest places is out of Big Pine.
North or South fork of Big Pine Creek up to the Palisades. my preference is North fork because there are a couple nice lakes around 10,000 ft. Camping at 1st or 3rd Lake is very scenic.
North Palisade is the most alpine-like area of the Sierra. from your camp, you could day hike up to the Palisade Glacier (12,000ft), the biggest in the Sierra, though small by Northwest standards.

out of Rock creek is also nice.

out of Bishop is also nice.

out of Mammoth-Reds Meadow is nice, going north is best, to the Minarets or Thousand Island Lake area.

endless ....

p,s,

much of your Eastside backcountry camping will be at 10,000ft if you want to see the best places.
but there's always Diamox, works great for altitude.

how far do you want to hike ?

Edited by asandh on 05/30/2013 09:31:40 MDT.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Where to "family backpack" in the Sierras on 05/30/2013 10:00:18 MDT Print View

+1 diamox.

If carbonated beverages aren't an essential part of your hiking experience the side effects are minimal vs getting to enjoy a trip.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 10:50:45 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice. I was looking at some of those. I think we are looking at 30-40 miles.
I have never taken diamox. Works pretty well? How long do you take it?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 11:00:32 MDT Print View

diamox (or generic equivalent) is prescription only.


if you are going up for only 3-5 days, then start taking it 2 days before going to altitude, continue for entire time at altitude.
standard dose is 250mg 2 times per day.
some people cut the pills in half and take 125mg 2 times per day.
they claim the half dose works fine.

for me and many others who live at sea level it makes a world of difference.

Edited by asandh on 05/30/2013 11:02:46 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 11:14:27 MDT Print View

Thanks, Art. I will look into it for her.

The trip options you mention look fine too. I was looking at Onion Valley but had not noticed the Big Pine area.

As far as temps go, will we be fine with 30 degrees quits/bags or would you reccomend a bit more for mid-July?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 11:28:56 MDT Print View

you should be fine at 30*

Big Pine, South or North fork is very nice.
there are at least 7 lakes up the North Fork trail, it is a fishing area but not crowded, and climbers like to bag the summits.
either trail is an out and back, you come up against a wall of mountains.
to me the view of Temple Crag from either 1st or 3rd Lake is one of the nicest in the Sierra.
3-4 miles up the North Fork trail is an old cabin, now a sort of museum that is sometimes open, used to be owned by an old silent films actor - Lon Chaney.

its only about 5 miles to 3rd lake, but from there you can do a 10-12 out and back day hike up to the glacier. this is a low snow year so shouldn't be too bad.
but this would only give you about 20-22 miles for the 3 days.
of course at altitude a mile feels like more than a mile.

the lake camps up the south fork are slightly higher elevation than 3rd lake.
they also offer great views.

Onion Valley up over Kearsarge Pass is also very nice. there are more hiking options here than at the Big Pine/Palisades area.
Rae Lakes is very nice as is the cirque area just below Glen Pass on the way to Rae Lakes. Great views also form top of Kearsarge Pass.
it is 7.5 miles from Onion Valley Trhd to the intersection with the JMT. from there you have a few options.

Edited by asandh on 05/30/2013 11:34:56 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 12:39:49 MDT Print View

Big Pine looks pretty nice. The lakes and surrounding peaks are just what I was looking for. I checked it out on Caltopo and photos from google maps. The limited mileage may be fine for us lowlanders.

Sorry to bother, but a couple other questions. Are permits needed? Are there designated camp areas? Bear canisters needed?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 13:13:25 MDT Print View

yes permits are needed.
2 different permits I think, one for South Fork of Big Pine Creek, and one for North Fork of Big Pine Creek.
I think the quota is not large, and they are split between walkin and reservation.
if you know you're preferred entry day you may want to reserve one.

I am almost certain there are not designated camping areas (unless its a very new policy), but there are well used camping spots surrounding the lakes. I have always camped where ever felt good.

This is not a bear area generally, but bears can show up.
I have never brought a bear cannister, but you may want to check the Inyo Nat. Forest web site to make certain.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Where to "family backpack" in the Sierras on 05/30/2013 13:16:17 MDT Print View

Check out the Golden Trout Wilderness, which can be reached from the west out of Bakersfield. This will help reduce your windshield time.

James Castleberry
(Winterland76)
Online permits on 05/30/2013 14:05:10 MDT Print View

You can book permits online (also online are reservations for Onion Valley and other campgrounds) at Recreation.gov

Edited by Winterland76 on 05/30/2013 14:07:33 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Help me take my clan into the Sierras on 05/30/2013 15:25:03 MDT Print View

Thanks for the recommendation, Nick. Golden Trout area looks pretty big. Where would you go in? Are there any opportunities for even daytime trips up to lakes or around peaks? ANy specific areas there you would consider?