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Emigrant Wilderness Loop Trail is a 19.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and backpacking and is best used from August until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 19.5 mi Elevation gain 3,172 ft Route type Loop

Dog friendly

Backpacking

Hiking

Forest

Lake

River

Views

Wildlife

Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (112)
Photos (456)
Recordings (84)
Completed (198)
Karie Frasch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingBugsGreat!

We hiked in on a Monday morning, and extended the loop to include hiking around upper/lower Buck lakes. Crabtree TH - Lilypad Lake - Deer Lake (2 nights) - Wood Lake - Grouse Lake - Crabtree TH. The scenery was stunning and the swimming divine. We also included off-trail side trips to the Wire Lakes and to Karl's Lake. All trails were in great shape, stream crossings were fine. We were unsure about going on this trip after all of the reports of mosquitos but with Permethrin-treated clothes/tent/packs/etc and use of Deet it was quite manageable. They were mostly only out from approx 6:30am - 8:30am and 7:30pm - 9pm, except for a few very boggy places on the trail. One thing that we didn't anticipate - we planned to get water at Groundhog Meadow but the stream there (Piute Creek) was running pretty low. We were able to get some filtered water but it wasn't the best.

Rebecca Keable
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
BackpackingBugs

Absolutely stunning. Great swimming opportunities. Challenging but enough up and down to keep things interesting. We did the hike in 2 days with the a night at the Trailhead. I read the reviews about the mosquitoes and they're bad but not bad enough to not do the hike--wearing long sleeves, pants, a buff helped a ton. We also bought the silly mosquito hats but they weren't bad enough to warrant those but we were glad we had them. We camped at the trailhead the first night where there was a pleasant stream but the bathrooms were disgusting and out of TP. Next day we hiked 10 miles to camp at Gem Lake where we found an awesome spot on the granite away from the bugs. Would recommend clockwise route and swimming at every lake you pass (we swam at Piute, Gem, and Grouse and they were all divine)

Laura Davis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Jun 26 2020
BackpackingBugs

This is a beautiful trail, but I was nearly eaten alive this trip. Bug spray didn't help at all! They were out all day. I cut my trip short and returned after one night and 200 bites.

View Laura's Recording
Suzanne Ng
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Jun 22 2020
HikingBugsMuddy

We decided to hike this loop in four days, so we could enjoy it’s full glory. Initially planning to camp at Piute meadow, Gem lake, and grouse lake. However, as beautiful as the hike was, mosquitos deranged our plans. We came across many hikers on our trip that decided to cut their trip short and turn around due to the mosquitos. We hiked this on June 19-21, so if you intend to hike it at this time, be prepared to douse yourself in deet. Even then you will be swarmed. We ended up altering our plans because of the mosquitos. We spent the first night camping at the top on a ridge near piute meadow to avoid the mosquitos. However, our efforts were minuscule. They still ate us alive. We hoped it would be better if we pushed ourselves to Deer Lake, as we heard from some hikers that there were less mosquitos there. All was well until sunset when we were swarmed again. I’ve never really be bothered by mosquitos, but unfortunately this time I was bitten more than my previous record of 23 bites. Both my hiking partner and I were bitten well near 50 times, and it was horrendous. So, instead of staying the third night, we decided to hike the 12 miles out and head home. I am not trying to deter anyone from hiking this trail, but maybe wait until a little later in the season, or be prepared to spray a lot of deet. We’ve hiked from Crabtree trailhead through various trails for the past four years, and I have never been bitten so badly before. Four stars because the trail is genuinely amazing, minus one star for this year because the mosquitos are extra ravenous this year.

Kyle Pickering
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jun 20 2020
BackpackingBugs

It was great to be able to get the wilderness permit online for Emigrant. We arrived at the trailhead on Friday evening and the parking lot was full. We drove a little further down the main road to find some camping off to the side. In the morning we hit the trail. It’s very well maintained and built. It was relatively busy, but people were good a distancing when passing. It got quite hot on the climbs, and we took advantage of shade when we could. The mosquitos were out in full force and by the time we arrived at Gem Lake, they were swarming. Swimming and hiding in the tent was the only way to avoid them. The souther part of the loop back to the trailhead offer lots of downhill and more beautiful scenery.

View Kyle's Recording
Hello World
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun May 24 2020
HikingOff trailSnow

This hike is amazing by all means. No word or picture I will share here will do any justice to what it really is. So go do the hike. But I will share few technical information below that might help you to get ready for this hike. We did this as a day hike in May but majority of the hikers were Backpacking. Honestly I would suggest you do the same fitting everything on this hike in one day is not enough. The hike itself is not very hard. You do not gain much elevation but it is high altitudes. What is really hard about this hike is the condition of the trail based on the time you will visit and the amount of the water in creeks and streams. Trail conditions and streams in May: Some part of the trail is still under the snow meaning there is no trail. You need a legit GPS to find your way around it. The snow is melting making it so hard to walk on it. You will slide, fall etc The other issue with the snow is melting the trail will be under the water. Good portion of the trail is wet. The Water coming from the streams during this time of the year, quite a lot. They are roaring. They are beautifully flowing in the valley. Such a stunning view! But you will have to pass those roaring streams. I stop counting the number of them as they were never ending. My rough estimate we at least passed 6-8 ish hard to pass streams and countless of okay to pass creeks and streams. The current in some streams were so high. We in general surveyed the area and found a tree that would help us pass the streams, or just jump in it and pass ( it can come up all the way to your belly button — obviously depending on how tall you are). Some of the ones we had to pass with the help of fallen tree were scary for my comfort level. Happy hikes.

View Hello 's Recording
Mallika Ranjan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Oct 13 2019
Hiking

Did it as a day hike. Beautiful in the fall. Lovely colors reflecting in the lakes. We went clockwise and saw very few people. No water between gem and grouse lakes.

View Mallika's Recording
Katryna Kviatkevich
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Sep 21 2019
Hiking

I think this is one of the best trails for introduction to backpacking: good views, good camping spots, good workout, good trail! We did it 9/21-9/22 clockwise. Lots of lakes and still few springs. The weather was awesome: not hot during day, not cold during night. We found a good fire ring close to Gem Lake (I took a pic of it in my recording). Not many people at all on a trail. We maybe met 10 per day. Also, I found recommend arriving Friday night and sleep at the trail head - a lot of parking space, toilets, picnic tables, grill rings. Not brutal hike if you do it in 2 days, but would be awesome workout for 1 day. I plan to do it again as a day hike for sure.

View Katryna's Recording
Maxime Grossman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 21 2019
Backpacking

Awesome trail, brought 2 dogs and had a blast. Most streams and creeks are dried now, but you'll see water sources at least every hour or hour and half at most. Super packed with people at Gem Lake. Some trail signs are hard to read/in disrepair/fallen down, so bring a map and compass.

Megan Masters
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 07 2019
HikingBugsRockyScramble

We did this hike in one day, taking just under 9 hours to hike and added 30 minutes to have lunch at Gem Lake. 20 miles in a day is hard work, and this trail gave a mix of terrain to entertain (the rolling mountains made the hike out easier). The trail was essentially empty; we saw a dozen people throughout the day. While no mosquitoes, there were yellow jackets at Gem Lake and other bugs throughout. Bring the right shoes, lots of water and good company and the challenging day will be like a breeze! We went clockwise. I’m not sure if this is the best since heading down on the granite after Gem Lake was tough on the knees... *note: if you do this in one day you might expect to feel a lot of pain afterwards :)

View Megan's Recording
Ryan Anderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 07 2019
Backpacking

We split the loop into two days. The first day we hiked to Gem Lake, took about 6 hours with stops at each lake on the way. We only ran into a few people on the way. Gem lake was a great place to swim drink some beer and let loose. :) I brought the intertube for a nice relaxing time at the lake. There were about a dozen others camping. The south side loop took 5 hours with a 30min break at Grouse Lake which is surrounded by cows!! Overall this was a great hike for backpacking with diverse terrain, few mosquitoes and easy water crossing this time of year. Recommend doing this loop clockwise.

A G.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Sep 02 2019
Hiking

Mosquitos are mostly done for the season, replaced by Labor Day crowds.

Anders M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Aug 31 2019
Backpacking

Enjoyed this trip a lot! Hiked straight to Gem lake, took us 7 hours with lots of stops and a quick nap. Woke up and hiked the relatively flat meadow trail to Grouse in 4 hours. And the next day, did the home stretch in another 4 hours. Overall, not too grueling but still nice and long. It was labor day weekend so the trails and campsites were fairly busy, but how can you complain about people enjoying nature. The trails were rather dusty but manageable. We met several other off leash dogs (mine was off leash) and a few groups of pack mules. Also had Ranger Joel check our permits in the morning at Grouse. Hardly any mosquitos, lots of refreshing swimming, perfect weather, beautiful scenery.

Ryan Elliott
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Aug 24 2019
HikingBugs

Great trail. We started late on Friday, hiked about 5 miles, and camped Lilypad Lake (not labeled, after Camp Lake). On Saturday, we hiked 4 miles to Gem Lake and set up camp then day hiked the loop out to Upper and Lower Buck (around 8 miles). We hiked back out the southern part of the loop from Gem on Sunday. Gem lake is popular, but we saw people at each lake and we were able to find a camping spot to ourselves. Great weekend trip. Mosquitoes are still persistent, especially around the upper lakes. None of the river/creek crossings require getting your feet wet this time of year.

Ronald Jett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Aug 12 2019
Backpacking

Parts of the trail were pretty dusty and it was a bit more crowded than I thought it would be, but overall it was a nice two day trip with an overnight at Gem Lake. Only encountered a few mosquitoes at one point on the trip — somewhere around 3/4 of the way through the loop.

Hannah Aldern
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 29 2019
HikingBugs

Beautiful trail! The wildflowers are amazing right now. We tried to avoid the mosquitos by camping by cherry creek rather than any of the lakes, but it didn't matter - the bugs are intense this season. No issues crossing streams, but parts of the trail were a bit muddy.

Lewis Thompson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 27 2019
HikingBugs

Really great trail. No issues with water crossings but you will get wet feet. I’d planned to go further up to the next set of lakes but the mossies were killing me.

View Lewis's Recording
Chu Cap
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 27 2019
HikingBugs

Gorgeous hike but very buggy at the moment (got bit through my long sleeve shirts). We did it CW. Drove in Fri and hiked ~2 mi and camped at Camp Lake (?). Second day hiked past the Gem Lake (pretty but buggy with a few water crossing where we had to take our boots-flip flops/water shoes were key). Post-gem lake, exposed downhill over rock formation with very little shades. Towards the bottom, there was a creek that ran close to the trail where we filled our water. Then went around the loop and camped past the Grauss lake (great camping spot with running water and place to take a dip). Post camp site, there is an uphill portion to close out the loop where we were glad that we were rested. Not many good camp sites post the spot mentioned above (post Grauss lake).

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Alli Duff
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 15 2019
Backpacking

Overall amazing trail. Did it clockwise this weekend, which I recommend. Camped at Piute Lake first night. First creek crossing was up to our knees, crossing Piute Creek on the northern part of the loop was up to our waist with significant current. Cherry Creek was running too high to pass so we couldn't make it to Gem Lake. The second day we took the connector trail to Groundhog Meadow and camped at Grouse lake. Such a fun hike. A few small patches of snow but nothing significant on the trail. Mosquitos were out but not horrible as long as you camped 100 yards from the water. We had a great time!

Nate Fabel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Jul 13 2019
BackpackingBugsMuddySnowWashed out
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Charles Bruffey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 11 2019
Hiking

My mates and I just did an 8 day trip in Emigrant Wilderness. We did a first night at Bear Lake and then second night at Gem Lake. Cherry creek is not bad and you just need to look for wider creek crossings where it is more shallow but the water speed is very gentle so pretty easy and refreshing! After Jewelry Lake, you will hit snow with drifts upwards of 6-8 feet in places. From Deer Lake to Buck Lake it was map and compass and patience to get through the snow. After Buck Lake we tried to get to Huckleberry but the trail was mostly covered in water, snow and trees. We turned toward Woods lake and the trail promptly went under water, literally and that was the good part! We worked our way around the lake/trail and found the trail to Woods lake which was completely covered in snow. We had to climb over the top to get past many sections where the snow slid into the water. Over this stretch, we probably hiked about 3 miles on snow and stopped for the night at the Buck creek crossing below Gem Lake. This crossing was treacherous and if you are not experienced please avoid it because the next stop if you fall is a large waterfall about 50 yards away. The water speed was so fast and strong our hiking poles started vibrating and humming! We made for an easy day and stopped at Gem once again. From Gem we climbed off trail to Leopold Lake which was very snowy and cold but pleasant and mostly mosquito free! After that we continued back to Bear Lake for a easy night and swim and then out the next day. Before you go, read up on creek crossing because when you are done, you will be an expert. FYI, Strawberry Inn just north of Pinecrest is a great place for that celebratory beer and burger after your trip with great outdoor seating on the creek!

Miriam Limov
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 09 2019
Backpacking

Has anyone been up the trail towards Buck and Huckleberry this year yet - wondering about Cherry Creek crossing and snow? We have 2 horses. Thanks! We were hoping to leave July 19 to hike up to Emigrant Lake, Huckleberry Lake and Buck.

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