Explore Sierra Backpacking - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Last summer I took my grandkids on this hike, we enjoyed it so much. The beauty of the trail and waterfall was astonishing.

hiking
21 days ago

Easy trail with a gorgeous prize at the end !

hiking
23 days ago

Not a difficult hike and not to long, the views are gorgeous. The waterfall had plenty of water it was the perfect spot for photos.

Just completed this hike on December 27th 2018. It was a little more than 2 miles to the Frozen waterfall. good for dogs and people of all ages. Sun was shining, snow on the ground, slightly cold but overall a great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

I did this trail on 20 Dec 2018. It was about 2 weeks since the last big snow. I began hiking around noon at approximately 43 degrees. The snow was packed, powdery, or slushed enough to not require crampons.
The trail was fairly obvious because of a couple weeks of hikers stomping through. Some clearings or spots where people meander can be confusing, but check your AllTrails map, look ahead, and you’ll be fine. Even if it snows right before you go and obscures tracks, keep the creek to your right and use AllTrails, it’s not terribly difficult.
After the first pool (mostly frozen) about a mile in, my dog and I were the only prints continuing on. I made it another half mile before turning around. We just weren’t stoked about walking through mid shin to knee high, icy snow, searching for a possible trail route. The 1.5 miles (one way) we did were absolutely gorgeous though! My dog had a blast in the snow. The creek was frozen at parts. Beautiful boulders and trees. Well worth it.
My dog and I came back around 10 AM on 21 Dec (every other trail we wanted to do was closed or inaccessible) and of course it was a bit more frozen over. The snow was less enjoyable and some spots were slippery, but each area had an alternate way to traverse besides stepping over ice.
I suggest wearing typical snow hiking, waterproof attire. Hiking was still quite warm, I only wore a long sleeve shirt and snow pants. Boot sleeves to keep snow out of your boots/pants in the deeper parts would be nice.
If you’re going in January-March, based on today’s conditions, crampons or snow shoes may be warranted depending on recent precipitation or freezing temps.
The gravel parking lot is covered in snow, but still parkable. Or you can park where the China Peak employees park right next to it. The trail sign may be obscured by plowed snow mounds.

11/25/18 One of our favorites so far! The trail was a fairly easy hike. Any inclines were very gradual. We really enjoyed the variety of scenic views, from giant sequoias, to rock formations, small waterfalls, babbling brooks and a look out point overlooking kings canyon. The trail was easy to follow and never any cliffs to worry about. There was just a little bit of snow. Enough for us to make a small snowman to honor our friends in Wisconsin. While we didn’t see any wildlife it’s certainly out there. We saw a couple dozen bear pop piles. Note: carry bear spray just to be safe. Temps were in the mid 40’s with abundant sunshine. It was perfect weather. We looped the trail counterclockwise. With a short trail snack we finished in 3 hours for a total of 8.25 miles. On our drive out on the dirt road we came across a LARGE BOULDER in the middle of the road. It fell while we were on the trail. We managed to get around it but it was very tight. We notified the ranger. Hopefully they remove it soon. Definitely a hazard. Would definitely do this hike again!

We did this hike as a family and loved every minute of it! The falls was frozen over and it was amazingly beautiful!

hiking
2 months ago

My first hike ever! My girlfriend took me here in September and it was so easy and rewarding. It was our first hike together. So yesterday we decided to go back to take a better picture and we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the frozen falls! What a beautiful sight!

The views were amazing. Made this our first hike of the Fall season. Weather was nice and cool. First time wearing pants and a long sleeve :) We were a little confused coming back from Bear Lake as the trail was a little washed up, but we made our way back. Trailed off in the beginning, but got back on the path. This ended up being 10.5 miles for us due to us straying off course a bit. Totally worth it! Would definitely do it again

hiking
2 months ago

Did this trail on 7/21/18. Drive up to the parking lot, it is about 3 miles off of the road and makes the trek much more enjoyable as the road leading up to the trail is quite steep. The falls are beautiful but to get close to them there is some rock climbing necessary. There is a nice little spot to get into the water weather permitting. In late July it was about 85 degrees and would have been nice to get in.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked both Rancheria Falls and this one with 2 friends on the same day. This hike that goes about 2 miles alongside a creek and ends at the pools which were almost completely frozen over. Beautiful views and very peaceful, perfect for small families and for kids who love climbing rocks but make sure you wear appropriate footwear. The trail is not well marked at certain parts but pay attention to the path or stay close to the creek and you will be fine.

hiking
2 months ago

Went with 2 friends on 11/11/18 and found the waterfall completely frozen over. We arrived early in the morning around 9am and it was empty and the road itself was a bit bumpy but I was driving slow like a turtle and avoiding the bumps and holes along the way. A bathroom is available at the trail entrance but there is no toilet paper provided so heads up. Trail itself is pretty easy, and we passed someone pushing a stroller on our way back. Trail itself ends at the waterfall, had a great time...worth the drive and the hike.

SUPER WORTH IT!!! Beautiful views and MASSIVE trees! Would definitely recommend

12 miles round trip from Quartz Mountain Trail head to middle lake. Easily doable in a day, in and out, but pretty uphill on the way in. About 3 hours up and 2 hours back with a daypack.

on Rancheria Falls Trail

2 months ago

Great trail for the whole family! My husband and I took our daughters (4 and 2 years old) 10/28/18 and they absolutely loved it! It wasn’t busy at all when we went (1:30pm) and we even ate lunch at the top of the trail! The girls needed hoodies since it was a little chilly by the waterfall. It was a gorgeous day!

nature trips
2 months ago

Beautiful hike. It was definitely warm and a very busy day. The trail was easy but we didn’t get to check out the falls close up, just from afar as several huge families were there sitting on the trail, quite annoying. We will try it out again. Went in late August 2018 before school started.

on Indian Pools Trail

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Some strenuous parts, rock climbing but not terrible, doable. Just be warned.
Water was still flowing into the 2 pools. It was a peaceful hike. Not too many people in site. Our wiem was in heaven with the sites, sounds, and smells. We Even witnessed a doe with her fawn eating from the nearby foliage. Fall is evident here with colored trees and definitely on your drive up! Beautiful! Young families would adore this hike!

generally: moderate trail in Stanislaus Wilderness with good scenery most of the way, moderate difficulty, well maintained trail, decently popular for backpacking with sites scattered around the lake
permits: free, get at ranger station, fires allowed at lake with permit
trailhead: unpaved road for several miles, lots of parking at trailhead

hiked once in september with snow on trail and once in late july and swam in lake

bird watching
3 months ago

Just as reviewed. A nice short hike. Took small dog and he did well. The earlier you go the fewer people. Got busier closer to noon. Great views and decent birding.

Great hike for the family and with dogs. Short and sweet, only takes about 20 minutes to get to the waterfall. Beautiful views!

This was a nice easy trail to take our 3-yr on. Short hike, with stunning views. We went at the end on September which had lots of foliage turning beautiful fall colors.

backpacking
3 months ago

Gorgeous views, lots of campsites at Bear Lake, good amount of shade, and trail was clearly marked. Took a couple of newbies and everyone had a great time.

nice trail .

We enjoyed the Wawona swimming hole today

hiking
4 months ago

Parked at bathrooms and hiked up slight incline but very manageable for my husband and I who are 48 & 50 years old. Views were pretty and path was clean. We stayed further back from falls and decided not to take on the larger boulders that were closer to the falls and still enjoyed the beautiful sight & sounds of the falls and creek. Amazed there was still as much water as there was in September. Our 4 pound Yorkie had no trouble at all either.

Definitely will be doing this trail again. We only went to camp lake this day but will be back to continue to bear lake. The beginning is mostly incline and was heavily traveled with a few large groups. Once at the lake we explored a bit. It is worth while to hike up to the ridge to see the views.

backpacking
4 months ago

Hiked this as an overnight backpacking trip with my family: two girls, ages 13 and 15, and mid 40s wife. We did so over Labor Day weekend and were not expecting big crowds at the Crabtree trailhead. Fortunately, we were able to find a nice campsite at the lake. Most folks had already set up at the south end (where the trail enters the lake) but there are a lot more spots if you continue north/left. Fuel here is at a minimum. Also, it's easy to pick up that this is a popular spot (toilet paper, bit of trash, no low limbs on trees, etc). Overall, a nice beginner's backpacking trip. The lake itself was quite warm at this time of year and good for a dip.

Great hike one of my favorite. Views at the top are amazing and when you get to the lake it is even better. Nice place to relax and chill at the water, people swam and hangout. I would say its semi-crowded but worth it and the hike is moderate. A must try hike!

walking
4 months ago

Nice, well marked trail to a beautiful waterfall that was even flowing at the end of summer. Lots of families with young kids handling it with ease. Just be careful when you get to the falls with little ones- it's a big drop down.
Also, dont start at the trail turn off. Drive up the dirt road from the trail turn off for 2 miles to reach the trail head. There's a bathroom ("biffy" style) & parking area there. From this point its a 2 mile round trip hike to the falls & back.

Very easy hike and a fun dirt road to drive down that starts the trail. Gorgeous views and lots of rocks to sit on and enjoy the scenery

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