View Full Version : Good backpacking trips in CA? 30 miles or so...
I'm planning a backpacking/fishing trip for my wife and a few friends in CA. Anyone have any suggestions? Must have awesome fishing and must be out of the way enough to provide solitude. We're planning a casual 6-day 30-50 miler in the Sierra's.
So far we've narrowed it down to Emigration Wilderness (between Yosemite and Tahoe) or Ansel Adams Wilderness (south of Yosemite). Any other ideas? I've done quite a few hikes in both areas and love them both.
Oh, the Pacific Crest Trail is out. Been there, done that around Donner Summit. Too many people.
Pistol Packin' Pete
Emmigrant is great. I've never done the Ansel Adams. Also think about Kings Canyon NP. Up north the Marble Mtn. Wilderness area is really neat. Probablly the best fishing I've encountered and it is not too crowded. It is quite a drive if you live much south of the Bay Area. The climate is less arid than the Emmigrant. Did I say it had good fishing? Lassen NP is fun, but kind of crowded. If you do the Emmigrant, I would bust ass the first few days to get out of the basin and up into the higher back country lakes. Better fishing and you can move camp to a new lake in a few hours if the scenery or fishing are not to taste. Only problem is if you trailhead at Kennedy Meadows it is all up for the first day and a half or two. Not the easiest intro to backpacking foe novices if you know what I mean. Sounds like a great trip. Have fun.
If you want new territory, Mineral King (NPS) is a great launching point for many loops. You can get to the little Kern through Farewell Gap (above the treeline) which takes you into the Golden Trout Wilderness area. Hockett Meadow loop, etc. If you've got a Mt. Whitney quad, you'll see some of this. Here's a book I know nothing about otherwise with some other suggestions.
This picture looks south, I've never walked out thorugh the north.
Silver City is on the way in (twisty narrow road).
If you're coming from the south, then going in through Springville will save time:
Talks about GTW
Has the permits needed
Needless to say, the fishing is awesome, but the low elevation on the valley floor is a bummer. Heading south from MK takes you past Rifle, Pistol & Shotgun creeks - high enough to be more pleasant in summer, don't remember their order off the top of my head. I buy a waterproof map in Silver City ever couple of years...
FISHING AND HUNTING
Fishing and hunting is permitted under State regulations. There are over 25 miles of streams with unique South Fork Kern Golden Trout-subspecies of the California Golden Trout.
This guy has some *really* cool pictures of the area:
A bit further north is the Monarch/Jennie Lakes Wilderness area, Kings Canyon. STEEP. Neat country. Better roads going in, a lot less time traveling to get in if you're coming from far away. Decent fishing, nothing special like the Golden Trout, though.
In this map, you can see Mitchell Peak (Jennie Lakes) and its relation to Whitney:
Wherever you go, get bear canisters or some other food device. We've had a serious problem with bears this last year.
Brian in CA
One thing you want to be aware of regarding the Whitney drainage and no. to Mt. Russell areas. You'll need to get a permit ahead of time. They're pretty anal on their enforcement of it too. Word has it that the permits pay just for enforcement of the permits LOL. Be heads up in some of those areas 150 dollar fine if you get busted w/o and they'll send ya back the way you came. Not like it used to be.
p.s. to add to your planned itnerary, the PCT once you get past the Tahoe Basin thins out regarding traffic. Bear cannisters are definetly a must. 12 miles a day??? you gonna have time for fishing? LOL
Pete, yes I agree that you must hike in fast and furious the first day or two to get deep into fishing territory. I've had some wild success at the real Emigration Lake (the big one) and the small lakes around it that are off the trails. It's 20 miles to get there, but it's right next door to fly fishing heaven! Big ones in Emigration Lake I tell ya! I caught so many brookies in an unnamed lake near there that I got bored after an hour. Literally every cast we'd nail a fish and they were all between 8-12 inches. I tried casting a bubble with a hook on it and STILL caught one on the first try!
Latora Lake has a killer 45 foot jumping cliff as well as a scary 65 footer across the lake. Ever jump off a 45 footer in the moonlight with the stars reflecting off the black water? Red Can lake is x-country but has great fishing too. I've never seen a single bear up there.
Pistol Packin' Pete
I'we fished Emmigrant lake as well. The unnamed lake you are mentioning wouldn't be L.lake (or maybe it was W. Lake) by any chance would it? IIRC there is a lake on the far side of Emmigrant but before you get to the Blackbird chains. It is off the trail and nestled into the base of the peak overlooking Emmigrant lake. I think the map calls it L. lake or lost lake (or maybe W. lake or West Lake). If this is the lake, I had some great fishing there as well. No people and a pretty easy climb to the top of the peak for a panoramic view.
If you do the Emmigrant area again, consider heading towards Kenney lake your first day. You should be able to make it there on day 1. It has good fishing in the lake and feeder stream. The next day hike out of Kennedy over the box canyon it is in. This drops you into the high back country with lots of lakes. The terrain is flatter and more arid than it is around Kennedy or Emmigrant Lake, but the fishing is good and alot more accessible. I don't have a map in front of me or I would be able to give you more specific instructions, but you get the drift. I always wanted to make it out towards Bigelow Lake, but never got around to it. I also tried to make it to this small lake (can't remember the name) off the trail in a high peak. It has golden trout in it. You have to follow a stream off trail and the thing was dried up because of the drought, so we decided to head for more water.
Wherever you go, have fun.
You may want to check into following the river from Tuolomne to the the Yosemite Valley floor. You can ride the bus from the Valley to the Meadows and hike the river down. Nice fishing all the way down but be sure to dawn the skeeter head net and watch the critters. Car to car 3 days.
My info is surely out of date, but in the 1970's going in on a two week trip at Lone Pine and hiking up the Kern River toward the Great Western Divide yielded some of the best fishing of my youth. We caught and released Kern River Rainbows (now a recognized species) and native Golden Trout at a rate of 10 plus per pool on flies. Very little traffic in those days as in three days to one visitor) and rough country, but man, I would die to be there now. A bit early for the high country, definitely June 21 or after. But worth the effort. In those days, if you leave the trail and know what you are doing you leave the masses. I suspect the same today.
Please realize I am talking about a 70 + mile trip!
In thoe days I carried a 1911, now I carry a Glock 30.
Pete, yes, it was Lost Lake! We did a night hike from Emigrant lake and got lost when some dope in our scout group took point. A storm rolled in around midnight so we pitched our tents. When we woke up in the morning we were 100 yards from Lost Lake! Many dumb brookies live there.
Grumpy, I've done that hike too. From Tuolomne down into Yosemite Valley, but we spent the last night at the tree line on the back side of Half Dome. There's a little spring about 200 yards off the trail just before you leave the trees. It's on the map if you look carefully. Many bears! Damn smart too, they got what was left of our food that night. We woke up at 4am and hiked to the peak and watched the sun raise up over the valley from the tip top of Half Dome. Awesome view! On the trail back down to the valley there were so many people hiking that rangers were holding up traffic to let one direction pass at a time. It was a zoo! Never again. I'd rather look at pics of Yosemite and go hiking in solitude somewhere else.
Yup, Little Yosemite. Good to hear that someone else knows of the spring LOL. My first encounter with that spring was back in 82. I did the Cable route up the Dome and some fellow pointed it out to me. Yes bear alley in the Jr. Valley there. Had some buddies run into a "bear condo" on a route to the Snake Dike trying to dodge a storm. LOL. ;c
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