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backpacking
1 day ago

I did this last week. It is the hardest hike I have ever been on.

Amazing destination. CCC crew has done a lot of trail maintenance. If you plan to sleep on the granite be sure to pack an insulated pad. The scramble is easy if you go way left but otherwise it can be a little sketchy. Well worth the hike.

loved this hike, steep but so worth it!

backpacking
7 days ago

I attempted this climb several years ago in January/February time frame. It was my first mountaineering trip, and definitely a memorable experience. I went with four guys, one got strep throat, one got a bad knee, and then the two of us that were remaining got stuck in a wicked snow storm. Ended up digging a snow cave up near Helen Lake, and turned around the next day. Hope to return some day and reach the summit.

This is a beautiful trail, and probably that's an understatement.
For starters, this was my first ever backpacking trip. So, first ever backpacking trip for a person who's 5feet (petite) and who hits the gym 10times a month on average. Whatever i read on this site and several other blogs definitely made me feel scared that I might not complete this and I'm doing something dumb. All i want to say is, this is not an impossible trail, being in shape and being fit helps, doing other backpacking trips before this might help too. But this can very much be your first backpacking trip as well. But again, if you're one of those who might get tired or might face severe body aches walking 5miles on flat/concrete land - then you might not want to consider doing this one. (I do want to add that I was on ibuprofen all three nights while hiking to reduce some body pains)

We started off at Mattole on Wednesday evening around 5PM and walked till about 8PM and camped around the lighthouse. We were not in the more crowded campground areas, we just managed to find a spot where it was just us and that did feel good.
Thursday - we started from the lighthouse and began walking around the first impassable spot, we took a lot of breaks, enjoyed the views, and hiked till Randall Creek and camped there. Again, we managed to find a not-at-all crowded spot which worked good.
Friday - we started from Randall Creek and started walking the flat lands, again we took a lot of breaks, enjoyed the wind, the sun, the views and by the end of the day we came a bit farther than the major campground and again camped in a secluded spot (this one is just before the next impassable section)
Saturday - we were determined to complete this trail and head back to black sands. we started a little early around 9AM (earlier days was around 11AM) and did not make major stops on the impassable section. We did one major stop at Buck Creek for breakfast and began hiking again. Honestly, the toughest part of the hike is the last 2miles. We successfully finished and reach black sands beach at about 5PM.

Our original plan was Wednesday to Sunday, but we managed to get done by Saturday!

Couple of things:
Take your time, don't be in a rush just to finish the trail for the sake of finishing it. The view, the sun and the wind is pure and gorgeous. I'm very glad we took hour long breaks in so many spots and just enjoyed sitting out there in wilderness doing absolutely nothing.

Rocks maybe your new best friend. I understand a lot of reviews or blogs mentioned the last 5-6miles is beach sand and it is difficult. Heck yeah, it is difficult. For most of the part, i found my way around trying to walk on loose small rocks. For me, every time i saw that i could walk on the rocks, i was pretty glad. This may not work for everyone, keep in mind it is very very easy to sprain your ankle or get your ankle bent while walking on rocks (big or small, both of them exist in this trail)

Tidal timing is everything. I mean it, if you do not feel safe at any of the impassable sections to get through, just stay back. We did that. Honestly, we just memorized the general tidal timings from a high-level perspective. For us it was just being smart about the tides. If you have a general idea about tidal timings and did some good research before, you should be good. Again, carrying a tidal map is an absolute necessity. We did that, but we hardly opened it.

Pack light - if this your first backpacking trip, do pack light. We over analyzed our intake of food and toiletries and packed a little extra than needed. A bit more planning or idea might have helped us on that front. I would definitely suggest you to review your previous hikes you've done and see how your body consistently reacts to hiking. For example: I know if i'm on a long hike, by the end of it I lose most of my appetite and just require more water. But again, i forced myself to eat as much as possible to hike this one.

Stay hydrated, the first 3-5miles may not have any creeks, but there are abundant creeks through out the rest of the trail. So water should never be a problem, except bring a purifier for sure.

Snakes: We did spot a couple of snakes, they were not rattle snakes. Not sure what they were, but we did spot one at Buck Creek while filling water and one around the land where we camped for the 3rd night. Be careful and check your entire surroundings before you camp somewhere.

Enjoy the hike, it's beautiful and has some amazing view of the world's biggest ocean's coastline. Anything said to describe the trails beauty is not sufficient. It is something to just experience and soak it in.

It is a long hike for sure, there were a couple of times in different days where i was tired and waiting to see if there's flat land anywhere at all. It can take a toll on you if you're not mentally up for it. For me, as much as a hike requires physical strength, it requires mental strength too.

A few important things that need to be stated:
People using this trail are extremely problematic. Do I have your attention? I’m talking to you. There was trash in damn near every campsite we walked by. Half burned food packs in fire pits, cans, toilet paper and baby wipes every-damn-where, and on far too many occasions, piles of shit with a rock placed over them.

If you do not know what backpacking etiquette is, educate yourself first, OR DO NOT GO.

1. PACK OUT YOUR TRASH. All of it. Do not burn it like an idiot. We all know plastic and foil packaging should not be burned.
2. BURRY your feces and toilet paper (if you don’t pack the TP out; do not burry wipes, they must be packed out) 6-8 inches deep.
3. DO NOT HARASS THE WILDLIFE. This includes getting too close for photos as well as polluting their home with your trash.
4. LEAVE NO TRACE.

This is one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done, and to see the remnants of peak season use litter the pristine gem is beyond disappointing.

i was always in a hurry to see what was around the next corner. next time got to slow down and appreciate it. our August hike had perfect weather and tides. it is a great hike, not nearly as difficult as anticipated. plentiful water, no need to carry more than a liter at a time.

Left Mattole Sunday morning and made it to Black Sands on Tuesday a little before noon. One of the best backpacking trips I’ve been on. We had one clear day and then a couple foggy days. Make sure you check the tides and truly obey the schedule. There were a few times that we were a couple hours on either side of high tide and we had some waves come up to our waist, this was ok but I can see how some might have gotten washed away if it was any later or earlier. It was definitely not easy and if this is your first backpacking trip I’d recommend doing another trip first before trying this one out. However it is doable if you are in good shape. Lots of walking on sand and loose rocks. Everyone we met on the trail was very nice and our group now has many memories to take home with us. I definitely recommend this trip and would do it again (but for now it’s ice and Advil for the legs).

backpacking
20 days ago

Just completed this weekend. Turned it into a 3 day and 2 night excursion. Most of the creeks shown on the map were dried up, but there was plenty of filterable water at each lake, so it was no big deal. We decided ro tak the opposite route and to do 11 miles on the first day following the rubicon river trail before connecting back to the McConnel loop. We stayed at 4 q's lake the first nigh. There were a few groups already there, but there were plenty of spots so you wouldn't feel crowded. The trail can be difficult to follow at times, but keep your eyes out for cairn stones marking the way. We went through to lake Schmidell the next day and it was a tough 5 miles, but we stopped for a swim at Leland Lake. There is an awesome rock that you can dive off right of the southern portion of the norther lake. Its weird that these lakes aren't on the map, but they are 1 mile north of Lake Schmidell. We spent our second night at Lake Schmidell which was prettty crowded, but everyone kept to themselves. The weather was great and we slept out in the open our final night. This was an awesome adventure and I highly recommend it despite how technical the climbs can be.

Great day hike. Best in July to September when Mule Ear flowers are in bloom. Beautiful views from PCT with running streams until Sept.

Great hike. Would consider more moderate than difficult. One downside is the freeway noise for the first mile or so

Incredible! A genuine California experience. Some tips that I learned: hike the trail close to a new moon (the lowest tides will be during the day) and pay attention to vague signs leading you over hat rock. It was a wonderful trip though.

Amazing backpacking trail. beautiful views and campsites along creeks; we got a swim in each night. The low number of permits keep this lightly trafficked and we ran into few people. You do need to plan around the tides and walking on sand and rocks for most of the trail is hard on your feet, so bring tape for blisters. We did the trail in July and had great weather.

backpacking
27 days ago

Lovely hike but extremely busy. Almost ended up making camp away from the lakes as there was hardly a spot to setup camp. Finally found a nice little spot at the northeast end of Upper Loch Leven Lake.

backpacking
28 days ago

Great trip last weekend with my eight year old daughter and some friends. This was her first trip and was as good hike for both of us. The lakes are absolutely gorgeous and the 2nd lake is perfect for camping. We got a little lost on the granite before the railroad, but the markers were pretty good to help get us back on track. The only downside is the number of people. We saw people everywhere we looked and had people hiking through our campsite on the east side of the lake constantly. Nevertheless, the experience was great for the first time and having my 8 year old say at the end of the trip " We are so doing that again!" was the highlight for me!

backpacking
28 days ago

NOTE: For those complaining about people walking through your campsite, don't camp by the trail or water! First of all, it's expected that people would walk through. Secondly, there's a rule that you set up camp at least 200 feet away from both the trail and the water. Don't blame others if you were one to not follow those guidelines (and use your judgment).

The first time I did this trail was on 7/4/2017. I went back a few weeks ago with my friend who I had actually met there, then I went on 8/11/18 to backpack with my boyfriend for the Perseids meteor shower. I was worried about it being a tough hike with our packs, but it wasn't bad at all since we averaged about 35 minutes on the way up. I also made sure to hydrate the day before and day of.

As others may have mentioned, you can take the wrong path where all of the exposed granite is. There are cairns that do help, but at least keep the map on you. Other than just a couple of those spots, the trail is easy to follow. There are lots of downed trees that are climbable, or you can walk around a few of them. Also pack lots of water or at least bring a filter, and bring food. Sunscreen is also a great idea.

After the seemingly-endless rocky switchbacks, you'll notice that this is the perfect hike your both you and your furry friend to swim in an alpine lake or three! The lakes are also never packed, so they're truly gems hidden away into the mountains. All three are beautiful. We camped at the second lake atop a granite hill. Beautiful view of the sky..

By the way, if you think you hear a bear, it might just be the common nighthawk making booming sounds with its wings. It scared us half to death.

Absolutely beautiful trail! Very fun and a great challenge, but we definitely got off trail a few times. I’d definitely recommend having someone come with you who knows the trail. There were a few stretches where the trail dwindles off and you can’t really tell where to go. But other than that amazing!

Beautiful hike from Horse Camp on the stone path. Once that ended the trek had lots of loose rocks and scree made it tough going for a while made it about 10k up right below Lake Helen. . We lucked out because it was a clear day but due to the fires most of the remaining days we were there the smoke prevented seeing the views. Hats off the the fire departments from all over risking their lives.

backpacking
1 month ago

Spectacular views, lots of campsites. Very rocky.

We took the wrong trail, poorly marked, and ended up on a ridge hike to the top. Above the tree line the rock is unstable, and is mountaineering, not a hike as I’d promised my hiking buddy. Very tough. I’m in marathon shape but this is a very difficult unstable mountain. Grant, the scenery was so beautiful and my partner had a great attitude.

backpacking
1 month ago

I visited 8/19-8/21, 2018

Regarding the 4x4 recommendation: time from I-80 to trailhead was 20 minutes with our 4runner. By my estimation, a sedan could make most of the journey through the unpaved road until JUST before the parking lot (using caution and low speed, of course). There is room to park before the road worsens and its only a 1/4 mile from trailhead. We saw stock trucks and SUVS in the parking lot so special offroading vehicles aren't necessary.

Trail took us 3.5 hrs to reach north fork of the American River. Gnats surrounded us every step of shade we had, deet became necessary. Lower elevations have quite a bit of poison oak but it was easily avoided. The trail is difficult not just because of the steep decline but because the trail itself has many loose rocks. Almost twisted my ankle once or thrice. We camped just on the other side of the bridge there. I counted exactly 4 established camping spots in the vicinity of the bridge. We didn't see anyone out there at any point... Very secluded. LOTS of swimming holes that were fun to climb around and jump in.

We saw bear scat throughout the trail and on our way back we saw even more fresh stuff. No bear sightings, however, we did see a baby rattler when we first got to our spot and after that we were extremely cautious about our footing anywhere we went.

Trek out was intense but much more enjoyable than going down. I think our time out was 4.5 hrs since we took more breaks to catch our breath and eat lunch. I recommend getting out early so as to avoid the midday heat later since the last 3 miles is mostly unshaded traversing of granite (follow cairns).

For the record, we did not hike up to heath falls and we regretted not making a small day trip up since an old timer we passed on our way out spoke highly of it. Our round-trip mileage was probably around 14.5 miles between trailhead and river.

Would do again! Especially with a group to play with on the river!

Absolutely love this trail. I’ve done it three times now. It’s definitely a work out and a climb so bring plenty of water. I made the mistake of not bringing enough for both my dog and myself and it hurt me bad. Also watch your footing as the granite and loose rocks can make for an easy ankle roll (did that my second time on the hike). Lakes are gorgeous at the top and there’s plenty of spots for everyone to sit and enjoy. You’ll see backpackers and day hikers at the top and you’ll share smiles because the hike was not an easy one. Recommend bringing a lunch or snacks if you’re making it a day trip :)

I got engaged here! It was super pretty and the falls are impressive in the amount of water coming down, also if you are trying to sleep there are not many flat surfaces to sleep. If you are trying to fish you can catch plenty of brook and rainbow since they are hungry.

1 month ago

I always forget about the bouldery portion after the train tracks- strenuous but then eases up on the knees after that. The higher lake is definitely worth getting to, less crowded.

Tough hike but very rewarding. Visited the three lakes and Lake Salmon on the way back. I’m glad I wore ankle high hiking boots over the rough, rocky and rutted trail.

I love this trail! I've hit it in skis, snowshoes, and hiking boots. Good times all around.

Looking to get feedback before visiting...
Getting to the trailhead, it says above off-road vehicle needed to access. Can a truck handle this or do you need legit off roaming 4x4 vehicle?

Thanks!
N

The ascent up Sand Ridge Trail can be difficult, but beautiful views from the top. Beautiful and not heavily trafficked.

Great 4 day hike. Late start camp at Island Lake, 5 Lakes via Sand Ridge, Glacier Lake, Round Lake, out. 5 adults, 2 kids. Meteors.

Kicked my butt trail. Nice elevation change. Wish the smoke wasn’t there right now. A lot of the normal views were not visible but the hike was a lot of fun and I’m so glad that people have kept the trail so clean.

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