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

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.

hiking
1 month ago

This route is closer to 71km (44.12mi) than the reported 63.9km (39.70mi) (and I didn't visit Chain Lakes!).

Thank you to the originator of the track - the detailed waypoint labels were a huge boon on the walk.

After completing Rae Lakes a couple of months ago, I wanted another challenge and felt this would be roughly equivalent in difficulty. Based on previous pace I'd hoped to complete the loop in 15-16hrs and given available daylight wanted to do the lollipop stick in the dark (about 4h). I set off Saturday 06:05 and the light was hitting towards the first stream crossing.

The loop becomes interesting around Merced Pass where we snatch glimpses towards the Valley. Seeing Half Dome from around here was a pretty cool moment for me and seeing it in the distance but still relatively close (just 21.9mi according to an upcoming sign) made Yosemite feel small in my mind.

The approach to Red Peak Pass is very good - extremely well maintained trails with no routefinding issues whatsoever. Presumably this is because the section is shared with the more popular "Clark Range Loop" which starts and ends at the more accessible Happy Isles. The lakes on the way up offer great views and seeing Merced Peak up close is also extremely impressive. Topping out at Red Peak Pass was absolutely *the* highlight of the loop. The visa here is huge - all of the main peaks such as Dana and Conness are laid out in front of us. I'm not great at names but an app like PeakFinder AR is a great option here. Better still is that as you descend just a few switchbacks you get your first glimpse of the Minarets over to your right.

The descent of Red Peak (and Post Peak and even moreso Fernandez) Pass is quite hard going with scree (talus) under foot. I'd hoped to run down some sections of the descents but didn't want to risk it so far out in the wilderness. In late October there was icy snow on the north side of Red Peak Pass but this was only present for a handful of switchbacks.

Descending through the meadows towards Post Peak Pass was absolutely gorgeous and the only real time on the loop I wanted to stop and spend some time. In particular one "unnamed" lake that was accompanied by a waymarker would be an ideal stop for me. For now I can only imagine how gorgeous this would be in summer with more greenery.

Post Peak Pass was a great ascent - crossing over an alpine meadow (again, summer would be a great time to be there) and then slowly ascending and looking back at the meadow as well as the Clark Range. As crazy as it sounds this is where things start to feel really remote. Obviously people ascend this pass but throughout the hike there were signs listing the distance to Fernandez Pass but very few to Post Peak Pass. Amazing views walking along the ridge into Ansel Adams Wilderness. This is where I drew in my last views of the Minarets before starting the descent to the next ascent of Fernandez Pass.

At this time things went downhill for me. I'd already noticed that my pace was slow (I hoped for 14:00/km but instead finished with 15:14/km) but was now beginning to notice just how much of a sandbag the trail was. Due to the low resolution of the track a lot of distance in switchbacks, etc. were cut and as a result my walk was extended by around 7km or close to two hours. I had anticipated on being close to the top of the lollipop stick around the time it got dark and then finish with a two hour descent to the trailhead. In the end I reached Fernandez Creek Trail Junction after dark and walked the next four hours by headtorch. I have no idea what the views from Fernandez Pass are like or any other section on. I expect they were great and regret not having had a chance to see them myself. Perhaps in future I will walk up to Fernandez Pass out and back from the trailhead with an easier approach.

My gripes/thoughts:

The lollipop stick 10km walk is really not fun. Nor is the narrow windy singletrack down from Fernandez Pass. This route can never be 5/5 with those two sections. To add insult to injury you do the 10km lollipop stick twice - that's four hours of pretty grim walking and a significant chunk of this walk.

I debated with giving this a 3 but I think rushing to do it in a short space of time, not seeing Fernandez Pass, etc. I erred on the side of caution.

Finally - this trail is HARD. I thought it would compare favourably to Rae Lakes but that's a doddle by comparison. Your feet, legs, back, everything will take a beating. Three passes (even if neither is as high as Glen Pass) is brutal and mentally challenging. I enjoyed almost every minute of Rae Lakes but would not personally recommend this be done as a day loop - in summer with more daylight it will be too hot and in winter you miss too much.

Hiked the lower Lake two weeks ago and loved it. Hope to do the upper Lake soon.

backpacking
3 months ago

I'm interested in taking the Chiquito Pass Trail up into Yosemite toward Crescent Lake and Johnson Lake with my daughter for a few days, and then connect with the Chilnualna Falls Trail that takes me down Wawona Dome and into North Wawona where we have a cabin right by the trailhead. I am planning on driving up Beasore Road and then on to the 5S04 to catch the start of the Chiquito trail there. I have a question: will a Lexus SUV (RX330 survive the 5S04 or am I taking a lot of risk to drive the couple of miles on that road? From Google Earth it doesn't look that bad.

Great group hike. Fair amount of boulder hopping, thankful for those dreaded squats!

We did this trail from Quartz mountain trail head, on July 12 we had a bit on rain on the hike in, plus rain that night, we camped up in the rocks way above the 2nd lake to get away from the mosquitos I would rate the mosquitos as moderate, plenary of sunshine Friday, a bit of smoke on Saturday due to the fire near the entrance to Yosemite. All in all a great trip and the fly fishing was good with brook trout, browns and rainbows. By Sunday the hike back to the trail head was a bit hazy due to smoke. Day time and night time temps where great, down sleeping bag was over kill.

The trail was relatively easy to follow, with a few strenuous parts along the way. Fishing was great along Norris creek (Brook and German Brown trout) and in Jackass lake (Rainbow trout).

We went up a couple of weeks ago, it was my first overnight backpacking trip in 30 years. The dirt road to the trailhead was really rutted up (doable in a Subaru Outback), but the trail was well worth it. We stayed at the middle lake and I caught two rainbows.

backpacking
6 months ago

Great weekend trip to Yosemite Wilderness without the crowds.

backpacking
6 months ago

We did this on May 23rd and was not able to access the last lake (Chain Lake) and the one before that because there were still lots of snow that covered the trail from Swamp Lake. Ended up camping at Swamp Lake instead. I wouldn’t recommend this trip during May, because the trail is washed out a lot with broken trees, rocks, and streams. It will be easy to get lost as me and my group lost the trail a couple of times. Took 6-7 hours to get there due to the trail condition during May and 3 hours back down.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A few steep climbs that are a bit tough if carrying heavy packs, but gorgeous views along the way. There are some beautiful, forested sections that feel magical, with a few meadows off the trail filled with wild flowers. Go a mile or so further to lady lake and there are lots of glacial waterfalls coming down the granite walls. There was some smoke from the nearby forest fires ty far affected the air quality last weekend, but a thunderstorm blew some of the haze out. Some mosquitos near the water, but not as many as anticipated.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can some advise on overnight permits and how to obtain?

hiking
Wednesday, August 02, 2017

We started the hike from 5S04 road which is a dirt road. You get to 5S04 from 5S07 or Beasore Rd. You have to drive on 5S04 dirt road for about 2.4 miles and park your car on East side of road and trail head will be on West side. You pretty much will hike along the Chiquito Creek. My watch said it was 16.5 miles round trip from parking lot to Chain Lakes (last lake). Water was great to jump in. Plan on 7 to 11 hours for the hike round trip . Just depends on pace and how long you hang out at the lake. It took us 4 hours to make it to final lake and 3 hours to come down. Great hike overall.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I've been taking this trail for many years. I return again and again as it is a great trail for the first time backpacker or folks who just want to get there and relax! The scenery is typical Sierra, high peaks to climb, quiet meadows and beautiful lakes! The fishing is usually good as well.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Do people really go back there or is it just you and Tom Harrison? I plan to hike from Mammoth Lakes to either the valley or Wawona via Fernandez Pass

hiking
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Arriving at Jackass Lakes was so rewarding. It had such a beautiful serenity after traipsing through the forest. The first part of the trail was easily marked, but it wasn't the most obvious spotting the creek bend you had to make a first left at - that if you didn't would take you to another trail. Beyond this point, the trail was helpfully marked with a combination of twig arrows on the ground and two stacked rocks (we contributed to a few on the return to help other novices like ourselves and felt like forest elves). When we arrived at the first little lake, we had thought it was Jackass but too small, then recalled the map and realised it was a pond-like distraction just a touch too early, so we continued on. Arriving at the bare rock face was confusing, the path upwards was a bit of guesswork because there wasn't one necessarily but the view from the top was amazing. We eventually heard water and ventured forward to find the lake beyond some trees. It felt like such a discovery and it was simply beautiful. Definitely a moderate hike for a newbie like me - my heart rate maintained a good cardio rate and at times soared during the long stretches of gradual uphill. So worth it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This is one of my favorite pack trips. The trail is long and steep in places, but that's what makes it so great. There is not much traffic and you'll hardly ever see another soul. So, if you are looking for a trip to get away from it all with amazing scenery and good fishing this is your trail.

Allow yourself a whole day of hiking, at least 5-6 hours, longer if you are traveling with a group. Coming down plan for 4, at a nice easy pace.

This is one of the most picturesque locations I've ever packed to. We camped at the lower lake and made day trips to each of the upper lakes. The top lake is stunning! If you make this trip, be sure to hit all three lakes.

backpacking
Tuesday, August 09, 2016

It took us 6 days to do the 40 miles with 4 passes. The trail was in excellent condition, thanks to NPS and NFS trail crews. We especially enjoyed trail from Merced Pass to Fernandez Pass. Nice views of Banner, Ritter and Minarets from Post Peak Pass. NFS in Oakhurst has wilderness permits and rents bear canisters, call them for availability, and they have maps to Quartz Mountain trailhead (almost 2 hrs of driving on dirt roads)

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Great weekender trail and overnight !

backpacking
Monday, July 25, 2016

Awesome!!!! Well worth the hike. Solid ground is a rare commodity if you are backpacking and looked to camp overnight. So the Early bird gets the worm. The trail is poorly marked and it's easy to get off track and end up at Lake Shirley. Just remember to stay to the left once you start the climb up from where the trail splits from the Lillian Trail Loop. Look for the markers on the left...

backpacking
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This is a great hike, a bit hard for myself being a beginner but I made it. There was a storm that rolled through the day before so all the lakes were over flowing. A few streams/rivers to cross with no bridge so getting wet was a must. We under estimated how cold it was going to be at the upper lake and how wet we were going to be. But nothing better than the landscape. Picture perfect.

hiking
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Super fun back packing trip, we started out from Quartz Mtn. Trail head then entered into Yosemite national park property a fairly moderate hike, we camped at the middle lake, the upper top lake had great brook trout fishing. I really would not call this an Oakhurst trail more like a Yosemite national park trail because a bear canister is required.

Would definitely not classify this hike as "easy!" Very rocky, uneven, quite steep in places, but a nice hike and destination.

I did this trail with my dad when I was 16 and loved every minute of it.
Going back at 26 with my best friend we had to take the Jackass 4wd road which is now a trailhead because my sedan couldn't make it down the dirt road to the Norris Creek Trailhead.
The Jackass trailhead is about 2 miles before Norris and is a much more difficult trail to take in. The entire hike is uphill and not always clearly marked going up to the lower lake. Once past the lower lake there is no longer a trail and you are scaling mountain faces to get up to Middle and Upper Jackass. Pay attention to the rock stacks to lead you in and out of the lake areas.
If you can, make it to Burro, the views looking down on Upper Jackass are stunning.

hiking
Thursday, September 04, 2014

Fairly abrupt greeting from the Norris TH, as it gets steep right off the get-go. Flat in the middle and then a bit more up towards the end. Vanderburgh Lake is a very nice, smaller sized lake. The setting is beautiful though. Very quiet and great lake to set up camp at. Day hikes to various destinations are available (we chose to hike to Lillian Lake and surrounding areas).

camping
Thursday, August 14, 2014

We left from the Quartz Mountain trail head, which is a little tougher to get to than Chiquito TH, but worth it. We hiked in on a Friday morning and departed on Sunday. The hike in took us about three hours to get to the middle lake and the return a little over two hours. We were able to snag one of the prime camp sites at the middle lake (north of the trail, and at the south end of the lake). Even though there were fires burning to the northwest and southwest of our position, we had surprisingly little smoke. We did a day hike on Saturday that took us cross country to the ridge overlooking Breeze Lake. The lake was warm enough for a swim and the mosquitoes were surprisingly absent. I got no bites, my son only one. This will definitely be an annual trip for us.

hiking
Monday, August 04, 2014

At first junction near the creek go LEFT! Otherwise you'll end up on the Fernandez trail, and an extra 1.5MI hike ....After you pass Norris Lake you have to carve your own trail up the granite face. Locals spot, so if you're a clueless tourist or a #jackass, don't bother. Cheers!

camping
Monday, July 14, 2014

Backpacked in for 2 nights to Lower Jackass Lake. Lake is beautiful. There's rocks on the back corner of the lake you can jump off of into the lake. Water feels good.

Fishing was pretty good and everyone caught some fish even if they weren't fishing much. I caught 9, 10, 10, 12 inch trout. Most of the trout were pretty small being that 10 inch was a larger one on average. We did see some that looked like 14 inches jumping but we didn't catch that those. Maybe next time.

The hike up is tough when you're carrying a 40 lb pack. Took us 3.5 hours up. Down took us 1.5 hours. If you're just doing a day hike without a pack, you can probably do 1.5 hours up and 45 minutes down without too much effort.

It was not too cold at night so you can probably bring a lighter sleeping bag. You will need a jacket of sweatshirt for the evenings, but probably not something super heavy. During the day it was sunny when you're out from underneath the trees. The wind would pick up for about 15 minutes then die back down for 45 minutes about all day so bring chap-stick.

We will probably make this trip and annual thing for our family.

camping
Thursday, June 20, 2013

I've done this trial probably 20 times, usually for a couple of days on the way somewhere else, but sometimes just hang there. I'd rate it as a little bit easier than moderate, but that's subjective I guess. I'm planing on going back the week of July 7 to 14 but may switch over to the East Side of Madera Peak and shoot up to Chittenden or Twin Lakes just East of Kaiser Peak, depending on crowds and weather.

Take the Quartz Creek Trailhead. There is one water crossing over depending on the season.

Many great campsites on the north side of the middle lake closer to the upper lake. The upper lake is a little rocky for camping. It's a short hop cross-country North to Breeze Lake as well and, if you're in the mood, you can catch the trial just north of Breeze Lake to Fernandez Pass and cross over to Rutherford and the lakes east of Sing Peak.

hiking
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beautiful, short, and to the point. Large trees, vistas, and of course alpine lakes. Elevation gain/loss is minimal, a good hike for families I imagine.

Several excellent dispersed campsites along the lakes which make good base camps. Backpack in, set up and day hike to your hearts content!

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