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High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsites

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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby robow8 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:28 pm

We went to Hamilton Lakes a couple of years ago, thanks to the Rough fire. We were supposed to go to Rae lakes. They rewrote our permit for anywhere we wanted to go, since we already had a permit. I asked the Ranger about campsites and he told me one of his favorites is when you first see the little horseshoe lake, look back over your right shoulder. There's a spot above the trail that is good for camping. We didn't stay there, but it would have great views!



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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby oleander » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:23 pm

maiathebee wrote:There is a site at Lone Pine Creek if that interests you. I described it in my writeup of the High Sierra Trail: "The campsite is in the low bushes pretty close to the trail between the bridge over Lone Pine Creek and the junction with the trail that goes up to Elizabeth Pass. There is no water directly at the campsite and Lone Pine Creek isn’t accessible there, but up the valley a bit on the trail towards Elizabeth Pass, there are several streams that flow right across the trail. We had no trouble getting water here, even though it was August of a dry year." There's a marked up photo on my blog that might help you find it.


I stayed at that site 2 summers ago. That's where I'd recommend staying if you can get an early start and make it the ~12.5 miles or so. That's the only option that presents you with a reasonable amount of time to hang out at Hamilton Lakes on Day 2.

Buck Creek is the prettier place to spend the night, but if you do that you'll have 4-5 more miles RT to hike on your Day 2 just to get to Hamilton and back. (Compared to the scenario where you stay on Lone Pine Creek.)

- Elizabeth
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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby Fairbanks142 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Thanks to all of the responses so far. Great info! Our most likely plan will be to start very early and make it to Lone Pine Creek for the first night. If we get there and it's occupied, well....we'll figure something out! Any additional info and suggestions, posted here or shared in a private message, will be much appreciated.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby creekfeet » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:20 am

Just don't camp at Bearpaw. That's a truly awful campground. I'd recommend Buck Creek. The main campsite is right on the trail, but if you cross the bridge and go up the east side of the creek a bit there's a really nice trail crew campsite. Lots of nice pools and scenic spots on Buck Creek too.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby franklin411 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:53 pm

Regarding crowds...I wouldn't expect most sites to be terribly busy on a Sun-Mon-Tue after Labor Day. IIRC, I arrived at Lodgepole on a Wednesday night, and it was 3/4 empty. I started the HST the next morning and camped at Hamilton the next two nights, and there were probably 6-10 people at most camped out there. I hiked out on Saturday and tried to camp at Lodgepole, but that and every other open campground was full, so I got a hotel room in Fresno and spent the night there. I came back for one more day on Sunday night, and Lodgepole was 90% empty.

So for me, the lesson was: Fri/Sat nights are most likely to be busy due to people trying to escape the Central Valley heat. Any other night after Labor Day is likely to be wide open.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby Ska-T » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:39 pm

creekfeet wrote:I'd recommend Buck Creek. The main campsite is right on the trail, but if you cross the bridge and go up the east side of the creek a bit there's a really nice trail crew campsite.

Ssssshh! That's one of my secret spots. The last year I was there (2000) it even had a bear box.
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Re: High Sierra Trail - Hamilton Lakes Out & Back - Campsite

Postby maverick » Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:01 pm

The last year I was there (2000) it even had a bear box.


Still there. :)
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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