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Best high country trip with no crowds?
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christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Best high country trip with no crowds? on 03/10/2014 21:46:52 MDT Print View

Alrighty I booked my permit for Kearsarge to Whitney. I'm sure there will be plenty of ofher hikers there.
Now I'm looking for another 3-5 night trip with less crowds.
Any suggestions? What's the the most amazing 3-5 night trip you've done?
Anywhere within 8 hours drive of the San Francisco Bay Area is fair game.

There seems to be so many I don't know where to start...

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Off trail is ok on 03/10/2014 21:48:16 MDT Print View

Ps: off trail is okay if the scenery is worth it :)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Shepherd's Crest on 03/10/2014 21:57:34 MDT Print View

Start from Saddlebag Lake northeast of Yosemite, so the permit comes from the forest service visitor center in Lee Vining. First day cross over the crest to Upper McCabe Lake (inside the park). Second day, go south over Don't Be A Smart Pass to Roosevelt Lake and on south to Young Lakes. Third day, go south over Ragged Peak Pass and down to Tuolumne Meadows via the Dog Lake Trail. Hitchhike back to your car at Saddlebag Lake.

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Shepherds Crest on 03/11/2014 13:13:25 MDT Print View

Few questions:
1. Is there any shuttle from Tuolumne Meadows to Saddleback? I'm a bit shy about hitchhiking.
2. Are there any use trails? I didn't see any from McCabe to Young lakes on the map. Either way sounds fun! If you have a trip report, or any pics to share that would be awesome.
3. Any doable route from Young lakes back to Saddleback so I could make it a loop? Sounds like I may be adding many miles that way though eh?

If anyone has a GPS track...that would be awesome.

stephan q
(khumbukat) - F
RE: Best high country trip with no crowds? on 03/11/2014 13:38:57 MDT Print View

Howdy,
No shuttle to Saddlebag, but it's an easy hitch hike.

Some beta on a similar trip is found here.

http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-yosemite-hiking-family-camping-sidwcmdev_053972.html

stephan

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Shepherds Crest on 03/11/2014 14:01:19 MDT Print View

1. No commercial shuttle that I'm aware of.

2. use trails? Trails go around Saddlebag Lake and over to Steelhead Lake and to the last mine site. You will need to scramble to get up over the crest to McCabe Lake. Heading south, there was nothing until Roosevelt Lake. Then you may see some faint trails contouring around to Upper Young Lake. From there to Lower Young Lake, there is a trail. One heads up to Ragged Peak Pass. Don't forget to pause and climb Ragged Peak if you have your rock shoes on. Then, continuing south, you intercept the main trails after another mile or two. Those lead to Tuolumne Meadows.

3. loop back to Saddlebag? I'm sure that it can be done, but I've never seen it.

Of course you could park your car at Tuolumne Meadows and hitch to Saddlebag to start. But then you would miss that early morning start.

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Shepherds Crest on 03/11/2014 16:15:12 MDT Print View

Good info. Thanks guys!

Any places to camp at Saddleback, or nearby?
I was thinking I could arrive at Tuolumne at noonish, and somehow get myself to Saddleback and stay the night there before heading off to McCabe in the morning.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Shepherds Crest on 03/11/2014 16:24:52 MDT Print View

Saddlebag Lake has a large car campground near its south end, above the dam.

If you try this, remember to stop first and get your permit in Lee Vining.

On a normal year, the best season to do this would be about July to see the wildflowers. For 2014, all bets are off due to the snow drought.

--B.G.--

Katy Anderson
(KatyAnderson) - F
great suggestion on 03/11/2014 18:52:07 MDT Print View

If you enjoy high alpine scenery, Bob's suggestion is a great one. I have done this trip twice and have a few suggestions that might be helpful.

The total milage is not much, maybe 20 miles, I have always done it as a fairly relaxed two-nighter. If you really want to spend 3 to 5 nights in the back country you might consider extending the milage of this trip or just enjoying a lot of leisurely time fishing, reading or just enjoying the scenery.

You can get the permit from the ranger station in Tuolomne. It is a forest service permit, but Yosemite has some agreement so they can write you the permit. Saves you a trip down to Lee Vining.

The first couple of miles of the trip is on a trail along Saddlebag Lake, a hot and unpleasant slog in the midday sun. Unless you plan to start early you might consider paying to take the 10 minute water taxi ride across Saddlebag Lake instead.

Don't bother car camping at Saddlebag Lake campground. Instead just take the above mentioned water taxi across the lake and set up anywhere in the beautiful Twenty Lakes Basin.

The pass from the Saddlebag area over to Upper McCabe Lake is locally referred to as "Secret Pass" and the little lake that is above Steelhead lake is "Secret Lake". Google it or refer to Jeffrey Schaffer's excellent book "Yosemite National Park" for a few different ways to walk up the pass. Once you are up on the crest you are greeted by a Yosemite sign and a trail that leads down to Upper McCabe lake.

No trail but it is easy cross country travel between the three McCabe Lakes.

As a longer alternative to Bob's cross country route you can follow the regular trail from Lower McCabe Lake back down to Tuolomne via Glen Aulin.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Best high country trip with no crowds? on 03/11/2014 23:00:49 MDT Print View

I predict there will now be crowds there this summer ;)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Best high country trip with no crowds? on 03/12/2014 07:52:41 MDT Print View

But if you see anyone, they'll be BPL people so you can gossip about other BPL people : )

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
more days/miles on 03/12/2014 09:07:43 MDT Print View

If you wanted to add a couple of days to this trip, you could head out of McCabe Lake and up Virginia Canyon to Rescue and Soldier Lakes. You may see some people on the first mile or two of that route, but not many afterwards. We did it last summer and saw one other group in two days

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: more days/miles on 03/12/2014 12:05:00 MDT Print View

Bob's suggestion is a great one. Once you head to Steelhead Lake. ..crowds will be sparse., even in that part of Yosemite. You can end your hike near the old mining town near the eastern entrance to Hwy 120 and do a small hitch back to your car at Saddlebag

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: more days/miles on 03/12/2014 13:24:23 MDT Print View

"You can end your hike near the old mining town near the eastern entrance to Hwy 120"

That would be Bennettville, just uphill from the Tioga Pass Resort. There isn't much of a town left, only two buildings at the last time I was there. Way up on the hill above the mine tunnel, there is the Great Sierra Mine with one collapsed log cabin and a shaft. All of that stuff dates back to around 1890. If it wasn't for the mine, there never would have been a Tioga Pass Road.

The historical stuff is nice, but it takes you away from the wilderness backpacking experience.

--B.G.--

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Roosevelt to Young lakes on 03/12/2014 14:31:52 MDT Print View

Looking at the topo now...is there a pretty obvious route from Roosevelt to Young lakes?
If anyone has some GPS tracks for this trip it would be really awesome.
-Chris

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Roosevelt to Young lakes on 03/12/2014 14:59:27 MDT Print View

Chris it's an easy climb that is not too tough. Pretty obvious too IMHO

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Roosevelt to Young lakes on 03/12/2014 15:56:36 MDT Print View

"Looking at the topo now...is there a pretty obvious route from Roosevelt to Young lakes?"

Going directly southbound from Roosevelt Lake, you can descend down into a valley and then ascend back up. There's no future in that.

Instead, start out southbound and then contour around the hillside eastward along the 10,000 foot line, all cross-country. That ought to land you at about the Middle Young Lake. As it turns out, that is normally the best of the three Young Lakes. The Lower Young Lake is the big one, and it is normally reached first by beginners arriving from Tuolumne Meadows, so that is where they drop their packs. The Middle Young Lake is at 10,000 feet, and it is smaller and less overrun by beginners. You can also camp at the Upper Young Lake, but on a normal year it is mosquito-infested. This year, it's hard to tell. There are very few trees at the upper lake, so there is not much cover in the event of a storm.

As long as you are going basically south, you will hit one of those three lakes. If nothing else, as you are moving south from Roosevelt Lake, you can sight on Ragged Peak which stands prominently above the lower lake.

Now, if you try to change everything and go in the reverse direction, you will have to get a permit for the trails from Tuolumne Meadows to Young Lakes, and that is a tough one to get! Also, since that is a tough one, there are people who try to do that trip without the benefit of a permit. That's why the NPS rangers are often roaming about, to check permits. In fact, the rangers used to get such a hard time from some backpackers there that the rangers had to carry sidearms. I've seen some interesting law enforcement interactions around there.

Incidentally, if you find yourself around Young Lakes and have an extra day to kill, there is a good layover day hike. From there you hike up Mount Conness and return. It becomes boulder scrambling for the top 200 or 300 yards. Once in a great while there will be some snow on that last section, but probably not this summer. If you slip on the snow, it will be the boulders that will kill you.

--B.G.--

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
No Crowds? on 03/14/2014 10:27:00 MDT Print View

I just want to clarify that there will be plenty of people around in Twenty Lakes Basin, on your first night, and Young Lakes as well. As noted here, Young Lakes is very quick to fill up with newbie backpackers, and even the middle lake sees enough people that you will probably have other groups camping there.

Twenty Lakes basin is the one area in Yosemite that does not have a trailhead quota--so it's always going to have groups that couldn't get a spot anywhere else.

So if your criteria is to camp where there are no people, Upper McCabe (maybe) and Roosevelt (likely) are your best bets. Rescue and Soldier, as I recommended, will also have very few people

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: No Crowds? on 03/14/2014 15:27:57 MDT Print View

Paul....a couple of things. First, 20 Lakes Basin is not part of Yosemite. Maybe you are thinking 10 Lakes Basin? I have spent maybe 5-6 nights in 20 Lakes Basin and the most I would see camping around the lakes is usually 1-2 tents total. There are not that many great sites to camp there. Bummer because the scenery is breathtaking. Most people come there for a day hike and fishing