Explore the most popular backpacking trails in California with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

signage was pretty good, this is a tough one. seems to be just a relentless climb and remember, you are starting the trail at 6000 feet so air gets pretty thin as you near the top.
For an old guy like me (62) it was rough and I took alot of short breaks, but finished, which is all that matters.
Great forest to walk through, very peaceful.

backpacking
9 hours ago

Conditions as of 5/23/2018: super duper soupy. And are established trails always this poorly marked around here? Or maybe their just more obvious when they’re not flooded. No worries; hard to get truly lost in that area anyhow.

I got good and wet on my way to Sylvia, spent a day drying out and soaking in the beautiful landscape, then decided to summit Pyramid from the West, starting just north of (not next to) Sylvia. That was fun. But FYI the slop starts very early into Lyons from parking. If you’re thinking “maybe it’s just this area; it’ll get better” then you’re very sadly mistaken. The Lyons trail is essentially a babbling brook all the way through. Even the trails side-stepping the regular “trail” were much soggier today than they were on my way in 2 days ago. I was wearing old beat-up Saucony Peregrine trail shoes with microspikes for the summit. My feet were totally soaked and freezing from start to finish every day. lol - somehow, having that whole beautiful place to myself made up for it.

Summary: look elsewhere until things dry out a bit, or just come prepared for ankle-shin deep slogs all the way to the remaining snow pack.

This was my first backpacking trip and it was absolutely amazing! Just incredibly beautiful. If you love the beach, you get it. Did it comfortably in three days (Start 5/19 @ 10am - End 5/21 @ 3pm). 2 days is tough but doable. Bring tide charts because there are impassable sections. Would recommend buying the BLM map. Campsites are easily found and common at wide mouthed rivers even in the impassable sections! Plenty of water sources. There’s relative solitude during Spring/Summer. Permit is required! Would recommend going North to South, taking a shuttle Mattole and leaving your car at the Black Sands. Terrain is pretty roughy, either big rocks or sand so be prepared! Absolutely amazing trip!

Hiked it as part of a one night backpacking trip. The hike was a challenge but quite nice. The trail itself was varied, rocky and/or steep at times, while flat and easy at others. The weather was great during my trip and the views are excellent at the top.

As John stated, bring plenty of water or some way to purify/filter natural sources.

lots of fun, beautiful end. bring water not for the walk down but for the walk back. difficult when comes to climbing but well worth it. be careful if you bring dogs. again part of the stuff is rocky.

Attempted this loop 5/17-5/19 2018. Parked at Big Meadows trailhead and hiked in to Weaver Lake on 5/17. I was the only one there for the night which was quite nice. There are a number of campsites and fire rings already set up here. Just make sure you get your fire permit from the Hume Lake District ranger station on your way up the mountain. My one complaint about Weaver was that there was a bit of garbage scattered around. My guess is that this is a pretty popular day hike from Big Meadows and so the commitment level is low for a lot of people who stay out there. It wasn't awful but it was indeed noticeable.

5/18 I left Weaver Lake in the morning and headed east toward Rowell Meadow. Right away I noticed that the trail was difficult to follow due to snow on the ground. I had to double back several times to find the trail. I ended up hitting the trail junction and turning south towards JO Pass. The snow on the ground got worse as I climbed and there was a point when I wandered far enough off trail to be lost. Luckily I was able to rediscover the trail after some scrambling before running into another lone hiker heading the opposite way. He informed me that JO pass was still a mile up the trail and that I could follow his footsteps in the snow to get there no problem. I thanked him and we parted ways. Once I hit JO Pass I decided that instead of heading toward Jennie Lake which was my original plan, I was going to descend down the other side of the pass into Sequoia Nat'l Park towards Clover Creek/Twin Lakes area. The ground was completely covered with snow on top of the pass and I did not want to venture towards Jennie Lake without a clear trail. Unfortunately the trail was hard to follow even as I descended the other side. I ended up off track again and I began to follow Clover Creek southward for a few more miles. At night fall I set up camp somewhere alongside Clover Creek.

5/19 woke up early and continued south along Clover Creek toward the Kaweah River Valley. Stumbled out of the woods at Wuksachi Lodge and hitchhiked back to my car at Big Meadows.

I would not do this loop again this early in the season without a solid GPS. Not being able to follow the trail easily due to snow added a fair amount of stress to the trip. Other than that, this is a beautiful area and I look forward to visiting again so that I can actually see Jennie Lake and stop by Rowell Meadow as well as summit Mitchell Peak.

Really enjoyed the flora and the incredible vistas and the waterfalls that are abundant all the way up!

All worth it! Beautiful Waterfall View at end of hike! It was not too hard. Fairly moderate hike. Don't forget to bring water & snack. But a few biker speeders who zoomed past by us and created a super duper road dust all over. Not cool. Otherwise it was an awesome trail.

Fun easy well maintained trail. That starts in shaded oak trees then breaks out into a plains area with a cool rock formation at the end. Nice scenery only a few people. Saw pretty good size coyote in the mid of the day

great hike, seemed like we went uphill both ways.
the views at the lake were great and you could see the trout cruzing the banks.
the trail is challenging to follow in a few flaces and theres a lot of down trees to walk over or around.
plenty of water supply along the way

This is beautiful with wild flower meadows. Raymond lake is stunning. Is a great hike with dogs, and depending on the year there is no shortage of water along the trail.

beautiful place and a great workout. you'll need lots of water.

great view and great experience

Just hiked on 5-22-18 trail is in great condition right up until the final switchbacks start going up to valentine lake. There are none, because it’s covered in snow. The track goes straight up so bring your micro spikes and get ready. It’s tough but short. Lake is still mostly frozen. Incredible hike with so many highlights I could go on forever. Rained on me and my dog the whole way back with a hale storm thrown in to boot!

Breathtaking spot!
Awesome hike!
Highly recommend !!

on Preston Falls Trail

hiking
1 day ago

This is one other amazing trail to hike. You hike along the bank of the vibrant river and its very refreshing.I had been on a mid spring sunny day when the weather was around 70F. I had started to hike by 1030 hrs and found it highly draining and had got dehydrated by the time i got back, may be I am used to hiking a lot during fall and winter and had still not acclimatized to the spring weather. My suggestion is to hike during dusk or dawn so that you will to get enjoy the hike thoroughly. It took 0430 hrs for me to hike this 8.9 mile hike.
Note on the travel direction: after you cross the vehicle bridge in the cherry lake road while driving from Highway 120, please turn to the right towards the cottages. There is no sign board directing to the trail head and mostly you will tend to get lost. from there it is just a 3/4 mile to the trail head and it is called as Stanislaus National Forest Trail Head.

one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done. It is long and strenuous, felt like it doesn't end. We went on a cool day but still ran out of water, make sure to grab at least 3L for each person going.
there were patches of snow along the trail
the way back hurts the legs, note to self was to grab pain-killers to survive the way back

clockwise May 19 2018, 3 days 2 nights. Camped at Vernon lake and Rancheria (considered Tiltill but limited sites and unlimited mosquitoes).

In the early season, this is as good as any Yosemite backcountry hike (lakes, waterfalls, views, variety of ecosystems and vegetation)
+ and
no crowding (walked up for permit, saw fewer than 10 people when away from lower trail along the reservoir).

In later season I can imagine the dust and heat and aridity might change the balance and drop a star.

It may distract from your enjoyment if you think about the history of Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Consider the info from online and national park service as well as from San Francisco department of water that is on the placards.

Prep suggestions:
* we liked clockwise, not only to get elevation out of the way early, but facing into nice view coming back down to Hetch Hetchy :
* be ready for wearying uphill and downhill out of and then back in to Hetch Hetchy Valley
* check if you will need to wade thru Tiltill Valley (water above boot line and no way around, for approx 20 yards each side of the valley). Soft soil and grass meant barefoot was fine for most of our group.
* fair amount of bogs and rock hopping and downed trees changed our time calculus.

Highlights:
* great campsites + no fire restriction
* water at Wapama falls is enough to get wet walking across the bridge but not enough to close the trail
* wildflowers!! (So so many and so many species, especially at lower elevations)
* Tiltill Valley = spectacular in a peaceful way, well worth seeing (think baby Yosemite or tiny pre flood Hetch Hetchy)
* Vernon lake, especially from the ridge above the lake (toward Tiltill/Rancheria)

Note on mileage: Trails illustrated is 25, not counting unavoidable .5 each way from parking to the dam and variable to get from junction to actual camping at Vernon (.3 each way, but could be more). My gps said 27.5. I would use 25+ for planning assumption, not the 23 from AllTrails (sorry guys!)
Final note that the backcountry office says 28 miles, but I believe that is the trails illustrated 25 plus 3 miles optional extra around laurel lake.

great long hike loved fern canyon nothing like it do bring waterproof boots or water shoes or just take off your shoes to not get your socks wet also walking stick helps while crossing the logs over the creek in the canyon

hiking
1 day ago

great trip with fantastic views at top. A bit crowded but that is expected given accessibility. Go early to avoid the major crowds. Been up here many times and always like it.

This trail is amazing. We had a few first-time backpackers with us and it wasn't too bad. It was a particularly wet rainy season, so the river crossings were very dangerous. We had to cross an ice bridge as well. I would not have done this trail any earlier in the season than I did because the conditions were barely passable. Luckily, we are all young and agile, so we were able to climb the giant blocks of ice, but it wasn't easy. We had a late start at about 6 pm and we made it to 9-mile camp just as it was getting dark We woke up, and the views were amazing. Great camp with bear bins. If you have more time, try to make it to Bearpaw camp. It was amazing. It was a great lunch stop between 9-mile and Hamilton Lake. However, once we made it to Hamilton Lake, it was all worth it. We were surrounded 360 degrees by snowcapped mountains. It was amazing. On our way back, just one day later, the trail was much easier to pass. It was mindblowing how quickly the trail conditions changed. I greatly enjoyed it. Plenty of water along the entire trail. I would definitely do this trip again.

Beautiful falls and you get close enough to get pretty soaked in the Spring months. Lots of steps and they get really intense just before you reach the top of the fall, but the view from the top is so worth it. If you feel up for it, I definitely recommend continuing to Nevada Fall and returning on the John Muir Trail.

Great hike for the kids. Trails are very clean and safe for kids to walk on.

This is a fantastic trail that should be considered by all that love the high sierra. I did this in July 2015 over 15 days starting south of Whitney and ending in happy isles. Days where long but not outragous. I was on my own but never felt lonely. Lots of people on the trail to talk to if you want. You can also just hie along and people will leave you alone. Finding a camp site or water wasn't hard. I tried to finish my day making it halfway up a pass. This way I could rest the night and make it over the pass for breakfast the next day. Be sure to pack lite, I mean really only bring what you need as that pack certainly gets heavy after 15 days on the trail.

It was better then expected, amazing hike!

hiking
1 day ago

Just hiked it on 5-20-18 with my dog. There is clear trail for about 1/4 mile if your lucky enough to find that section. After that it’s pretty much snowpack the whole way. Lots of postholing. Snowshoes recommended. Pretty much guessing where the trail was and made plenty wrong turns. Ended up following some ski tracks and made it to Barney. All the lakes were still frozen and made for some gorgeous views. Skelton from above was by far my favorite view. Mid thaw, valley down below, mountains to the right, beautiful! The snow made it tough but well worth the effort. Got to watch some backcountry skiers come down one of the mountains above Barney too. Awesome!

I love this trail...definitely one of my favorite local hikes. I love that you get the great views of being at over 9,300 ft without too long or overly arduous hike like some of the other local peaks. I highly recommend this hike for those who haven't done it and I look forward to coming back and enjoying this one many times and I have done it twice in less than 6 months.

Parking- Vincent Gap parking lot off Hwy 2...we have gotten there early so it has never been an issue finding a spot and it is a rather large lot (you do need an Adventure Pass)

Trail- it starts near the restroom...the trail to the left going down will take you to Big Horn Mine and the trail going up will take you steeply up to Baden-Powell and there will be many switchbacks and many great views as you make your way up; at about a mile there is a cool wooden bench to catch your breath or catch the great view; it is about 4 miles to the top and you will reach a 1,500 yr old tree less than a half a mile from the top called "Wally Waldron" at a flat kinda narrow portion that is a mini Devil's Backbone; you will then make one final ascent up to the peak where you will see a monument to the namesake who was a Boy Scouts leader and a pole with a writing station that contains some notebooks to log your thoughts, message, etc... and just beyond that you should find the wooden sign that you can hold with the elevation and a US flag

Peak- there is a pretty large area at the top for you to find a spot for yourself/group to not bother others or be bothered by others and there are 360 degree beautiful views

Distance- about 8 miles
Elevation Gain- about 2,800 ft
Peak- about 9,400 ft
Duration- between 4 to 6 hrs depending of course on your speed, how many breaks, and how long you spend at the top
Difficulty- Moderate to Hard (definitely easier than the other SoCal peaks like Mt Baldy or San Jacinto)

A must see up close !

Did this last Sunday with great snow conditions above iceberg lake. The route provides a great mixture of scrambling, route finding, technical and highly technical sections. The 400 ft above the notch was turned into an exposed class 4 because of the fresh snow from the night before and icy rocks. Awesome route!

beautiful view of running dam at end of trail; close access of its not busy.

mostly wide paths. uphill on the way to the dam, downhill on the return, except for the paved part right before the dam (about .25 miles).

Auburn national park is a great place for outdoor easy peasiness.

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