Late October - What's Good?

Questions and reports related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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Late October - What's Good?

Post by rayfound » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:44 am

Life conspired to block my brother in law out of opportunities to backpack this year during our normal times, but we're determined to at least get some more miles on our trail shoes and hopefully see a few flies taken before all hope is lost. We're looking at heading out Oct 25-28... but we're wrestling with where to go. Of obvious concern is the unpredictability of the weather, especially at elevation that time of year. Of other concerns is driving distance - for a short trip (2 nights), long drives north can cut into the enjoyment - we're leaving from Corona, CA.

So with that said... any ideas? Our thinking was something around 12-30 miles total distance hiking. Ideas we've considered thus far:

[*] Dinkey Lakes - Eric suggested. Looks broadly okay except the mileage is definitely short, and the drive time is long.
[*] Forks of the Kern Area - Maybe a loop out of Jerkey or FOTK Trailhead? I've done the out and back to past Kern flat before, but was about a decade ago.
[*] Watch weather reports closely and hit cottonwoods via horseshoe meadows? worried it might be too cold, even if weather is okay, maybe it would be unpleasantly cold?

Interested to hear what y'all think!

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Re: Late October - What's Good?

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:27 am

You're coming from the south, so that's kinda outta my jurisdiction. But I will offer general advice:

- Make a decision 2-3 days before. It's shoulder/off season at that point, so making plans in advance for permits, hotels, ect. is totally unnecessary. Watch the weather, go where it's good, and have a non-mountain backup plan.

- The big worry this time of year is getting your car stuck up a road that isn't plowed. But again, if you're picking a spot with good weather, shouldn't be an issue.

- Unpleasantly cold is really just based on what you're prepared for.

- Consider a day hiking trip. Hotels earn their money in the late season or you can drive to a warmer location to sleep. And you go pretty fast without a big backpack.

- You should probably have a non-Sierra backup plan. I hear deserts can be nice, and coastal areas are less foggy & much warmer that time of year.
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Re: Late October - What's Good?

Post by gary c. » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:31 am

Howdy Ray,
The Forks can be pretty good fishing in Oct. Most likely cold at night but the crowds are gone and the water is still warm enough for the fish to remain active.

Another option that you might enjoy is Jordan hot springs. Skinny water for small wild bows and golden hybrids. Comes with the bonus of being able to soak in the hot springs in the evening. A couple of words of warning though. If you go, hike all the way down to Jordan to camp. Casa Veija Meadows gets really cold this time of year. The other is that the hike back up to the trailhead is all up hill and a bit of a workout.
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Re: Late October - What's Good?

Post by Harlen » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:19 pm

you wrote:
Dinkey Lakes - Eric suggested. Looks broadly okay except the mileage is definitely short, and the drive time is long.
We too are just now searching for a good west side location for our younger son and his friends. They really want to catch fish (any size will do), and judging from the description and photos of windknot's trip to Dinkey Lakes, it seems like a good place to try.

Re. Dinkey, you mentioned the short miles, but looking at the trip windknot made, it looks like some really fine rocky day trips can be made there. Look at that sharp peak in the 2nd photo! Let us know what you find out, thanks, Ian. [Did this work for once? Trying to add some photos from balzacom's TR to Dinkey area.

Hey, it worked! Here's another: the TR from windknot: ... ek#p148235
Last edited by Harlen on Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Late October - What's Good?

Post by rlown » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:24 pm

I'd go to Lillian, if the road stays open to the trailhead.

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Re: Late October - What's Good?

Post by AlmostThere » Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:01 pm

Dinkey Lakes, if you have a high clearance vehicle - if you intend to go in from Willow Meadow. Otherwise your destination will be Cliff Lake or Nelson Lake, six miles, with more gain, because that trailhead is at the end of a paved road.

Also note that the bridge over Cow Creek is still out, so you will have to drive in on Tamarack Ridge instead of Rock Creek Rd.

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