Backpacking Guides and Trips

Middle Fork San Joaquin River, Devil's Postpile NM Photo
Waterfall, Minaret Creek Photo
Waterfall close-up, Minaret Creek Photo
Late-season flowers, Minaret Lake Trail Photo
Minaret and Cecile Lakes
by steverod on Sep 23, 2011
Lake Mary, California, United States
Backpacking | 7.1 miles
My last Sierra hike of the 2011 season was retracing a fondly-remembered, gorgeous overnighter to Minaret Lake, and from there the plan was to follow a popular cross-country loop to Cecile and Iceberg Lakes.The first day to Minaret Lake was smooth and uneventful: permit pickup in Mammoth Lakes, obligatory gawking at the Minarets from Mammoth Pass, then drive to Devil's Postpile and start hiking.  For a trail which gains 2,500 feet, the Minaret Lake trail is surprisingly...
Mount Lyell and lakes Photo
Lower Lyell Canyon. Photo
Lower Lyell Canyon. Photo
Lyell Fork, Tuolumne River. Photo
Parker Pass- Lyell Canyon Loop
by steverod on Sep 02, 2011
GROVELAND, California, United States
Backpacking | 36 miles
A spectacular high-altitude trip to mark the end of the summer hiking season.I started later than expected from the Mono Pass trailhead (9500') since I apparently had a hard time reading the shuttle bus schedule. The Mono Pass trail starts out in forest but within a few miles you are getting open views, contrasting the multicolored metamorphic peaks of the Sierra Crest to the east with the more familiar whitish-gray granites of the Tuolumne Meadows region to...
Lake Harriet Photo
Meadows, West Walker River Photo
Leavitt Meadows Photo
Leavitt Meadows Photo
West Walker River Loop
by steverod on Aug 19, 2011
Bridgeport, California, United States
Backpacking | 33 miles
Along Highway 108 there's a relatively gentle route to the High Sierra that starts in the arid rain shadow and leads up to the alpine crest. The last time I visited here, in early July, the trip was gorgeous but the bugs were terrible. So for 2011, I decided to avoid the bugs and go in mid-August, normally a safe time. But 2011 has been different.The Leavitt Meadows trailhead, at 7,100', is at the base of...
Boulder Creek Canyon Photo
Mount Silliman from JO Pass Photo
By JO Pass Photo
Talus field Photo
Jennie and Weaver Lakes
by steverod on Jul 16, 2011
Stony Creek Village, California, United States
Backpacking | 16.0 miles
July trips - at least my July trips -  never quite work out as planned. The high country's usually just finished snowmelt and so things are waterlogged, or buggy, or you can't get as far as you want.  This July trip was no different: I arrived at the ranger station, told them my plans (to go over Silliman Pass between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks), and the rangers were direct: forget...
Onion Valley Photo
Climbing Towards Kearsarge Pass Photo
Kearsarge Lakes Basin Photo
Bullfrog Lake Photo
Mount Whitney via Onion Valley
by steverod on Aug 21, 2006
Independence, California, United States
Backpacking | 37 miles
This is probably the best 5 days of hiking I've ever done, followingthe south end of the John Muir Trail from Onion Valley all the way tothe top of Mount Whitney. It's such a good hike, I've done it twice.We started the hike by dropping our car at Whitney Portal and taking ashuttle to Onion Valley campground, where we had a campgroundreservation for the night. On Monday morning we started up theKearsarge...
Point Reyes Photo
Evening Fog Photo
Hillside View Photo
Fog Photo
Coast Camp, Point Reyes
by steverod on Oct 02, 2010
Point Reyes Station, California, United States
Backpacking | 5.3 miles
This was an easy family outing to a popular campsite at Point Reyes, perfect for a 3-year-old hiker and his parents. The early-morning rainstorm just added to the delight.Point Reyes National Seashore has a bunch of "mid-country" campgrounds.  While they all require a not inconsiderable walk (1 or more miles), they also have water faucets, bathrooms, and trash service (!), amenities I never associate with "backcountry" camping. The short hiking distance and...
On the way from Chiquito Pass Photo
Forest Flowers Photo
Open spaces Photo
Well-built trail. Photo
Clark Range Loop
by steverod on Sep 03, 2010
Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Backpacking | 40 miles
Early in 2010 I ran across an old Backpacker article describing a loop through southern Yosemite's Clark Range circling Merced and Triple Divide Peaks. The trip included high passes, enough mileage for a weeklong trip, and a distinct dearth of people -- what's not to like?So I sent in my permit application and started training.This hike proved to be a Sierran classic: granite-rimmed lakes, thick forests and open meadows, fields of talus...
Mount Clark Photo
Mount Hoffmann from May Lake Photo
May Lake Reflection Photo
Glacier Polish Photo
May Lake Backpacking
by steverod on Jul 31, 2010
Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Backpacking | 1.3 miles
The hike to May Lake is a delightful and easy way to experience theYosemite high country. It's great for a first-time backpacker,regardless of age.This hike is NOT a way to experience solitude (there is aHigh Sierra Camp and accompanying crowds at the lake). It is NOT a wayto have a true "wilderness experience" (there is running water and aflush toilet(!) at the backpackers' camp, plus there's thataforementioned High Sierra Camp). You MIGHT...
Ritter Range from Waugh Lake Photo
Waugh Lake Photo
Ritter/Cathedral Ranges from Waugh Lake Photo
Banner Peak from Island Pass Photo
Thousand Island Lake from June Lake
by steverod on Jul 25, 2010
June Lake, California, United States
Backpacking | 15.6 miles
A wonderful weekend excursion to the High Sierra. (I didn't own a GPS then, so the track line is approximated.)I had always wanted to re-visit Thousand Island Lake after a stopover on the Muir Trail but the most obvious route there always seemed to be via Agnew Meadows, which is really a 3-day trip, and 3 days together was hard to find. Then one day I looked at the map and went...
Mammoth Mountain and the Lyell Fork Photo
Lyell Canyon Photo
Lyell Fork Photo
Tuolumne River. Photo
Lyell Canyon - Vogelsang Loop
by steverod on Jul 17, 2010
Yosemite National Park, California, United States
Backpacking | 20 miles
The Yosemite High Country in July... creeks full of snowmelt, meadows full of flowers, mosquitos full of blood. This hike is remarkably gentle and relatively easy for all that it climbs high into the high country. Of course, the presence of one of the High Sierra Camps (hotels in the backcountry) should tell you that. It goes "up" Lyell Canyon (which is perhaps the flattest 6 miles I've hike anywhere), following the...
First Glimpse Photo
Crossing O'Shaughnessy Dam Photo
Spring Blooms Photo
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Kolana Rock on the Right, Hetch Hetch Dome on the left. Photo
Rancheria Falls
by steverod on May 01, 2010
Mather, California, United States
Backpacking | 7.0 miles
It's spring, and spring means waterfalls and flowers and green in Yosemite. What better way to spend a spring weekend than gawking at all of these things, especially on a backpacking trip?Hetch Hetchy is the fraternal twin of Yosemite Valley, drowned in the early 20th century to provide drinking water for the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, it's much less visited than Yosemite Valley, and you can even go backpacking...
View from Glacier Lake (Baltimore Town, California, United States) Photo
Fall Creek Mountain (Baltimore Town, California, United States) Photo
Black Butte (Baltimore Town, California, United States) Photo
Haystack Mountain (Baltimore Town, California, United States) Photo
Glacier Lake, Sierra Nevada
by steverod on Sep 06, 2009
Baltimore Town, California, United States
Backpacking | 4.2 miles
An easy getaway off of I-80.After realizing that our Labor Day weekend was consumed by various kid things, I moped around until my wife threw me out of the house. Since it was too late to take advantage of the full 3 days, I did a quick drive up I-80 to CA-20 and then to the Bowman Lake Road. The hardest part of this hike is getting to the trailhead on a...
Old an New (Big Bend, California, United States) Photo
Middle Loch Leven Lake (Big Bend, California, United States) Photo
Sunset, Upper Loch Leven Lake (Tamarack (historical), California, United States) Photo
Sunrise, Upper Loch Leven Lake (Tamarack (historical), California, United States) Photo
Loch Leven Lakes
by steverod on Jul 12, 2008
Big Bend, California, United States
Backpacking | 3.7 miles
This trip was not a good idea.That is not the fault of the hike (although it's not the best hike, see below), but because I was completely out of shape when I did it and because the only weekend I had available was when it seemed most of the Sierra was on fire and filling the air with smoke. But that was the weekend I had, so I went.The hike itself is...
Granite Photo
Granite Photo
Aspens Photo
Aspens and Granite Photo
Bear Lake, Emigrant Wilderness
by steverod on Jun 06, 2009
Pinecrest, California, United States
Backpacking | 4.5 miles
This was my first backpacking trip in over a year and what a reintroduction. Life witth a 2-year-old is many good things but not terribly conducive to backpacking on a regular basis (at least, not my 2-year-old). My wife gave me a free pass, though, so off I went to Pinecrest on a Friday afternoon.The way to the trailhead is on a twisty maze of dirt forest roads, seemingly all alike. (This...
Elizabeth Lake Photo
Unicorn Creek Photo
Echo Creek Pass Photo
Tuolumne Meadows from Echo Creek Pass Photo
Nelson Lake, Yosemite National Park
by steverod on Aug 01, 2009
Lundy, California, United States
Backpacking | 7.0 miles
Escape from the hustle and bustle of Tuolumne Meadows into the Cathedral Range! The first part of this hike is a moderately steep trudge through the forest on a good trail to Elizabeth Lake, where you finally break out of the trees and are rewarded with a great view of Unicorn Peak and other parts of the Cathedral Range.Then you continue onwards on a good use trail up towards the crest of...
Starting Point Photo
Lassen Peak Photo
Echo Lake. Photo
Autumn Colors, Echo Lake. Photo
Cluster Lakes Loop, Lassen Volcanic National Park
by steverod on Oct 10, 2009
Drakesbad, California, United States
Backpacking | 0.0 miles
I wanted a mellow backpacking trip and this perfectly fit the bill. Drove up the night before, crashed in the Southwest Walk-In Campground, picked up a permit the next day, and set off from Summit Lake after oohing and aahing at Mount Lassen itself. Spent the night at Silver Lake and headed out the next day.The hike definitely has ups and downs but they are not that bad -- mostly you are...


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