Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservior Trail

MODERATE 34 reviews

Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservior Trail is a 6.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,371 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

lake

views

wild flowers

A great hike with a lot of beautiful sights to see.

backpacking
11 days ago

We went on this trail just before 4th of July of this year (2018). We started at Kennedy Meadows at about 1:20 PM, and the hike up to Relief Reservoir was about 3 hours (including plenty of rests). We found a campsite along the eastern side of the lake, just south of where Grouse Creek enters the lake. There were several other people around, but the sites are spread out enough to allow plenty of privacy. Plenty of water in Grouse Creek, but it was relatively easy to cross without getting wet.

We camped here for two nights. Water in the Relief Reservoir was cool, but warm enough for good swimming. Mosquitoes were minimal (we felt lucky!) and it was really a pretty great spot to relax.

We did a dayhike on our second day, continuing on the trail toward the south, and bearing left at the V to head up toward Lunch Meadow. We didn't hike that far though....just went up over 8000 feet to where the trail meets back up with Summit Creek. We picnicked here, and swam in the river in a nice deep swimming hole (it was freezing). Then we hiked back down to our same campsite, which was quick since it was mostly downhill.

On our third day we hiked back down to our car at Kennedy Meadows. It only took 2 hours hiking down, with lighter packs and mainly downhill.

Trails were fairly busy, especially on the first day (Sunday). This included hikers and horses. We had our dog with us, and it was nice that there were several small creeks that she was able to drink from as we walked. Near Relief Reservoir we saw deer and squirrels and there were definitely lots of fish in the water too.

The trail is beautiful, especially in the last 0.75 miles approaching the reservoir. Beautiful views!

hiking
1 month ago

Weather was nice this last weekend. An excellent hike. A couple mosquitos and some horse poop along the trail is the only downer.

2 months ago

Perfect day hike with dogs. Enough people on trail in early May for guidance (as needed), else terrific solitude. Good uphill ascent to get your blood flowing. Will try to stay at the cabins at the trailhead or pack in next time to hike deeper into Emigrant.

hiking
8 months ago

Got up early on the 4th of July and did the reservoir hike from Kennedy meadows. plus about 3 miles and back. Gorgeous and enjoyed the views of the reservoir in solitude. And hey the trail
Ends with a saloon.

10 months ago

KM to relief reservoir is a great destination hike. Can be a day hike for an intermediate hiker. Beautiful waterfalls and canyons make you forget the aggressive ascents. Beautiful lake view campsites. Waters cold and the fishing is good

hiking
11 months ago

Awesome hike. My son Andrew and I hiked to Grouse Creek 5 miles from Kennedy Meadows south east side of the reservoir. Pretty much all up hill, but bright side is all down hill back

11 months ago

Uphill hike but where we ended up hardly had any campsites. Very hard to get to the water because of all the rocks.

backpacking
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This was a fantastic hike. It was difficult for a non exerciser who works on their feet all day. It is dog friendly however your dog must like horses as there are lots of them on this trail and there is an etiquette for backpackers around horses (posted on signs). The scenery is spectacular but prep yourself with stair climbing exercise before going. It took about 3 hours to reach the north shore and I think it would have been another 45 minutes to get to the south shore where there are more camp sites available.
If you enter Kennedy Meadows the parking lot is right to your left but it is a .5 mile walk to Kennedy Meadows lodge/store where a drop-off can be made. You walk from the parking lot down the road past the campsites and cabins. I recommend a drop off of packs and hikers then 1 driver goes pack to park the vehicle. I believe it is actually almost 1.5 miles to the Wilderness sign letting you know you are entering Emigrants Wilderness and then the climb begins.

We were so tired reaching the top we went to the North side... after you peak head to the right which brings you down by the dam. The North side is shy on camp sites so next time we go we will spend the extra time to head to the left after the peak and then hike to the south shore where there are plenty more camp sites.

backpacking
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Amazing trail! Quite easy to follow...as long as you are parallel with relief reservoir. Lots of fire pits set up already. The farther south you go the more secluded. Swimming and fishing at the lake....

backpacking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Great Hike. The hike there followed a raging river with a few waterfalls. Once we got to Relief lake we were awestruck at the view of a pristine alpine lake surrounded by snow capped mountains.

fishing
Monday, May 08, 2017

Rad trail but heard it's much easier when not having to hike in the snow. We didn't get any fishing in because the river was running far to quick and the reservoir was frozen over.

backpacking
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Awesome trail. I absolutely love this trail. It has plenty of life and growth and tall trees. Plus your hiking alongside a creek with fresh water. This trail was very scenic. However, it is very steep. This was a challenging hike. It is about 4 miles from Kennedy meadows to relief reservoir and it is an uphill battle the whole way. (About 1600ft) uphill. Be prepared to go uphill. But it is beautiful and there are several locations to pitch a tent if you don't make it all the way to the reservoir.

hiking
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Difficult climb up to Relief Dam, but the payoff is totally worth it.

hiking
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Amazing trail, parking is kind of strange, you park then walk on the road through a lodge then trail begins. Since there is a lodge, this trail can be busy, with both people (I don’t mind that) and horses (kind of mind). Trail is very nice a good climb up. Very photogenic area once you get to the lake, going up a lot of it is exposed, so have water and a hat. We saw a Bald Eagle make a dive at the reservoir there and at the time we were the only ones there, but I am sure it can get busy there. Highly recommended trail, oh be sure once you get to a split stay to the right, the other trail goes to another longer trail.

hiking
Friday, July 31, 2015

Fantastic hike. Started at Baker Campground so was a bit longer. Beautiful scenery every direction if you don't mind some horse crap and pee every now and then. Steady climb all throughout the hike but that also means a quick descent! Tons of wildflowers, wildlife, and great views of the reservoir on the way down.

hiking
Sunday, July 15, 2012

This trail is well marked and beautiful. There are some definite climbs in altitude but well layed out.
Once at the reservoir it is gorgeous. My family camps in Kennedy Meadows and have hiked and done trail rides up there.
We love this area. Lots of walking along the river.

9 days ago

recorded relief

fishing
1 month ago

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
Sunday, July 16, 2017

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

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