Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:51 pm

A good early season trip is to Paradise Valley from Roads End. There may be rules regarding where you can camp in Paradise Valley. There are established campsites at the end of the valley, just before the bridge. Day-hike to Castle Domes, or camp second night under Castle Domes if willing to do a long last day out. When I did this trip, there was no bridge and crossing the creek on half submerged logs was a challenge! This route has Mist Falls and good wildflowers.

I agree, Copper Creek is not a trail for a two-night trip unless you going up 5000 feet is OK with you. Granite Lakes are pretty as are the Volcanic Lakes. But it is not very feasible if you have to drive to the trailhead on Day 1. It takes a full day to get up to Granite Lakes.

To me, Bearpaw is not a destination. It simply is a stop on the way to a real destination, Hamilton Lake. I have hiked into Hamilton Lake in a day, several times, but if you limit yourself to 10 miles, it will not work. You could do Crescent Meadow to Buck Creek on Day 1, Hamilton Lake Day 2, and walk all the way out Day 3. But, again, more miles than you stated you are willing to do. I dispute the trial sign that says it is 16 miles to Hamilton Lake. Careful measuring on TOPO ends up with 13-14 miles. At any rate, it is a full day, but not a death-march day, particularly with a light pack.

If this drought keeps up, you may want to inquire about Mineral King. Not likely, but if the road is open, you can do good 3-day trips from that trailhead.








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AlmostThere
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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:43 pm

mort wrote:Hello!

This:
seeing the big trees
is a red flag for me. The big sequoias grow in groves of a few to about a hundred trees. The groves are all named and generally protected. The best groves have roads right to 'em. To see big trees you drive to Giant Forest, and walk around the big trees, or drive to Crescent meadow, or drive to Grant Grove. Etc. These trees are behind little fences. There won't be any big trees to camp under out on the trail to Bearpaw. But Redwood Meadow down in the Middle Fork canyon a few miles from Bearpaw.
You can camp in Freeman Grove, in the Belknap complex, and several other groves outside national parks and wilderness areas up the 198. Those are not necessarily all two day trips with backpacks, tho. There are plenty of groves all over the place up there, some of them on private land tho.

You can also hike up to Garfield-Hockett off a trailhead near Three Rivers, into the park, but that's low and poison oak is all over the place before climbing steeply into the grove - probably hot if you start too late as well.

You can visit the Case Mountain grove. That's BLM property and it's one of the bigger "unknown" groves out there. Right off this unassuming pullout on Mineral King Road well before the gate. But, that's a pretty steep climb, and you'd have to know where to get water, so not recommended for someone going without a local or a hand annotated map.

There's some groves in Sequoia National Forest - a couple of off trail ones, out off Big Meadow Road. Not easy to find.

But the nicest easy little backpack in Kings Canyon that takes you down into the biggest grove of all would be Redwood Canyon. There's no road into the grove and the two miles off the main highway are unpaved. No fires allowed, ever, but there's a 10 mile loop trail with a mild climb up the ridge, dropping down into the canyon where you can find campsites along the creek, then the next day you can hike the other side of the loop and visit neat things like the cabin made out of a Sequoia. The flowers are probably blooming right now. Dogwoods are in buds. Get your permit at Grant Grove Visitor Center. There might be patchy snow on the shaded parts of the road, but even if it's still closed the road is only a couple miles to walk.
The suggestions to cross-country up to Alta (elevation 11,027) are assuming a much higher level of experience than "Blue Ridge" implies to me.
I was not suggesting - I was informing. The mileages in play were not what the OP assumed. I'm pretty sure the OP already decided not to do it before I posted anything.

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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Post by chulavista » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:00 pm

The bushwhack to Alta comment made me laugh. Pear Lake is above the tree line. :) Maybe you could tell a little bit more about your physical abilities to help us.

I would say the Pear Lake backpack is comparable to Mt. Sterling or Mt. LeConte in the Smokies. If you can do that, you will be fine on this trip. The off-trail hike up to see the Great Western Divide (you don't necessarily have to go to Alta) from Pear Lake is practically on a trail (that doesn't show up on maps) the whole way. Just head up and east around the north side of the lake until you see ~100 mountains. If you are in shape, it is at most a 4-5 hour RT hike from Pear Lake with no pack. Do some research online and ask the Pear Lake ranger about the route when you get there.

If you aren't capable of doing the tougher backpacks in the Smokies, I would car camp in Lodgepole or in one of the Roads End campgrounds and stick to day hikes.

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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:06 pm

Actually, I'm pretty sure the ranger isn't there yet. It's still technically winter. The ranger station at Pear is a ski hut in winter, and I wonder if it's even open due to the minimal snow.

The quota period for permits starts May 22 - until then it's self registration at one of the stations outside the visitor centers. And free. But, you can likely go inside the visitor centers and ask questions.

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Re: Trip Advice: mid-May Sequoia 2 nights

Post by tim » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:42 am

Pear Lake out of season is wonderful and the trip to Winter Alta (not Alta itself) is quite straightforward: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7169

It might be busy in mid May this year unless you go mid-week. You can see the snow conditions on the Pear Lake ski hut page (which is still open through late April, see http://www.sequoiahistory.org/default.asp?contentID=638): it's mainly a hike to the hut already, though a late season storm (like I had last year in late April: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10843) can change that for a while. However by mid-May the trail should be clear unless there is bad weather the day you hike.

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