Bearpaw Meadow to Hamilton Lake Trail is a 29.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Springville, CA that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from June until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Oct 31 2015 - We (4 men, ages 20-30) started out at Bearpaw around 10am and made it to Lower Hamilton Lake around 12pm. It is a very strenuous hike. The first half or less is essentially down hill, the second half or more is all uphill on blasted granite and hardpack. This whole section of trail involves stepping up or down and seldom provides level ground. I busted my knee on this portion of the trail, so if you are prone to knee pain, brace up, bring trekking poles and have fun.
If you are returning to Bear Paw meadow, start early so you can enjoy the lake. The solitude up there is absolutely spectacular and the views of the Kaweahs on the way are breath taking.
On our way to the lakes, while the trail is flat and hugging a long granite wall, a small black bear dropped from a precipice about 40-50 ft ahead of us and sprinted away down the trail. I think our loud talk gave him advance notice of our presence which is a good thing. You don't want to surprise a bear if you are close to them.
The Kaweah River bridge (30 minute hike from Bear Paw meadow) is a nice stopping point and if memory serves, it is the point where the trail becomes completely uphill until Hamilton Lakes. Just know this, you aren't close to Hamilton Lakes until you encounter tide pool like areas from the outflow of the lower lake.
The final ascent is a mellow winding granite staircase and then, voila, you will see a few wilderness campsites and a beautiful high alpine lake. Also, there is a high alpine toilet with no walls around it so your views are great even while using the toilet.
Made an initial effort with a group of boys to make Hamilton Lakes in 2015, got hit with hail storm and rain 9 miles in. We made camp and returned back. A must do bucket list Backpacking trip!
I am going back this August. I hope I am able to go back every year and backpack even deeper into the high sierras. Love it!!!
Simply the most beautiful hike I've ever done. I can't wait to go back.