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The Best Hikes in Sierra Nevada

1,133 Triplog Reviews in the Sierra Nevada
Most recent of 298 deeper Triplog Reviews
60 mi • 20,000 ft aeg
North-lake to South-lake loop
 Wow this is an amazing loop in the Sierra's ! I haven't posted some of my latest hikes but had to do this one before too long.
This is a 60 mile near-loop hike going up and down 3 passes for a total of 20k up and down and top elevation at ~ 12k, low at 8k.
So it was up out of tree line then back down to the trees. Lakes and streams and flowers everywhere ! Stunning views of the peaks every day. Scenic meadows, one with a coyote. The trail is very clear yet can be quite rocky at times, hit a small amount snow near Muir Pass. Alot of people out there as part of the loop is on the popular John Muir / PCT trail. Incredibly I met an AZ trail hiker I met in Feb by Muir Pass on this trip ! His nickname is "Cheezit". At a stream crossing I fell face first but was ok ! My gps went flying into the stream, lost ! Next time it's getting tied down ! Its terrifying falling out there, but that's what makes it exciting ! Its a bit hard going up to 11k+ , mostly tiring but you get used to it and now that Im back home I feel very strong on hills. Alot of trout fishers , most lakes have trout. Actually saw some rangers ! Ok Ill post some more AZ trips, headed to Yosemite in Sept, Grand Canyon November , AZ trail anytime ! The best site that describes this hike can be found here ... -overview/

59 mi • 9,000 ft aeg
 I first learned about the Clark Range Loop in the June 2011 issue of Backpacker Magazine. It looked like a great loop and it was always in the back of mind. The years ticked by & things finally came together & we decided to go for it. I applied for a “walk up” permit roughly two weeks before the trip and I was excited when it was issued. Yosemite changed their walk up permits process due to Covid. Chumley decided to join me & we left Phoenix on Tuesday, July 27th. We stayed in a ghetto motel near Coarsegold and then headed into the park. We got our permit in Wawona & then made a relatively short day hike to Sentinel Dome & Taft Point. After that we drove over to Mono Meadows & started our trek!

07-28-2021 – Mono Meadows to Clark Fork

We arrived at Mono Meadows & geared up & started hiking around 1:30pm. The lot was very busy as there is an active Search & Rescue for a missing hiker who disappeared coming down from Red Peaks Pass. This was our exact route and we would keep an eye out for the missing hiker. Sadly, we didn’t find him.

The trail drops about a thousand feet the first three miles & is mostly easy going. There are nice views of Half Dome, Mount Starr King & the Clark Range. We took a short break by Illilouette Creek. From there we continued as the trail headed up hill. We would set up camp near the Clark Fork. There was a light rain for about an hour but it blew over. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying a campfire & perfect temps.

07-29-2021 – Clark Fork to Upper Merced Pass Lake

We started day two with a morning campfire and then we geared up and started hiking around 9am. We were sure to completely drown our campfire before we departed. That was a recurring theme for all of our campfires. We had another relatively short day planned as we were going to camp at Upper Merced Pass Lake and then do a short day hike to the Buena Vista Crest. The going was relatively easy as the trail was in excellent condition. We headed up and detoured over to Lower Merced Pass Lake where the Search & Rescue Team had a base camp. We had a short conversation with them and then continued to the upper lake where we set up camp. We got everything set up right before the skies opened up and it started raining. We would spend a couple of hours in our tents while the storm blew through. During this time another backpacker showed up and to make a long story short, he ended up camping with us and hiked with us the next day.

After the storm passed, Chumley and I geared up for the Buena Vista Crest. It was already 4:30pm so we didn’t have as much time as we were hoping. We hiked to Merced Pass & then went off trail to the Crest. It was easy going and the views were amazing. Once up top we continued a short distance & then dropped off the Crest and started our return to camp. We passed Lower Merced Pass Lake and took pics as we looked down on the lake. We would return to camp and were able to start the campfire despite all the rain. The other hikers name was Kelly & he was good company as evening set it.

07-30-2021 - Upper Merced Pass Lake to Triple Peak Fork

Day three started with another campfire but we had a big day planned so we packed up and left camp a little after 8am. Our plan was to hike over Red Peaks Pass at 11,100ft and then drop down to the Merced River headwaters. We had a long way & a lot of climbing so we took our time as we headed for Lower Ottoway Lake where we took a short break and filtered water. From there it was a slow grind to the pass. We topped out above tree line & climbed to the pass. We noticed a large group above us. They turned out to be about a dozen boy scouts & their trip leaders. We topped out and took a variety of pics. You could see for miles & it was truly spectacular!

From the pass we dropped down the north side & it was like an alien planet. The rock had a red tint to it and we were above tree line. It was a beautiful sight. We continued down and rested as needed and filtered more water along the way. We kept at it as the clouds darkened and rain started to fall. At this point we put our rain gear on and continued down as the rain picked up. We planned on camping as soon as the trail leveled off at a junction but the rain was falling hard so we continued hoping the storm would blow over. We got a couple more miles & we were spent & the rain was still falling so we decided to make due & set up camp which was a challenge. I would guess it rained for about three hours & we were glad when it finally ended around 6pm. We had a couple of hours of daylight so we dried out our gear & then built a campfire despite all the wood being saturated. We spent the rest of evening enjoying dinner around the fire.

07-31-2021 – Triple Peak Fork to Little Yosemite Valley

Once again Day four started off with a morning campfire & we then loaded up and started hiking. We had a big day planned as we would descend along the Merced River. The going was mostly easy as we followed some impressive trail construction. This river valley was absolutely stunning as the Merced River carved a channel right through solid granite and was loaded with cascades & waterfalls. We wished we had more time to enjoy this but we had a lot of miles ahead of us so we continued. The best part was a large drop of about a thousand feet as three forks came together to form the Merced River. The forks were Triple Peak Fork, Merced Peak Fork & the Lyell Fork. This section was truly stunning and the pics don’t do it justice. We would descend and continued down.

We took a short break at Washburn Lake and continued down canyon as the miles ticked away. We arrived at the Merced Lake Ranger station to find it vacant. We took some pics and then passed the Merced Lake High Sierra Camp which was also vacant due to Covid. Next up was Merced Lake where we took another break. The next few miles were absolutely stunning as the trail continued dropping along a spectacular gorge. Somewhere along this stretch a light rain fell but wasn’t bad. Next up was Lost Valley where we originally planned on camping but the rangers told us this area burned badly. It was depressing to see as we cruised through this section. Next up was the start of Little Yosemite Valley which was also severely burned.

Earlier in the day Chumley and I decided to camp at the backpackers campground in Little Yosemite Valley. This is uncharacteristic for us as it’s very busy with John Muir Trail hikers & Half Dome hikers. We didn’t have much of a choice because this is a restricted zone and you have to camp here. We made the most of it and actually enjoyed camping here. It’s a nice campground with bear lockers & plenty of space. We enjoyed talking with other hikers & it was a good experience. We did not have a campfire this night as we turned in relatively early.

08-01-2021 – Little Yosemite Valley to Mono Meadows

Our last day started early as we packed up and started hiking around 7:30am. We had about nine miles back to the trailhead and then the long drive back to Phoenix. We headed down the trail and made the stop at the top of Nevada Falls which was truly spectacular. From there the trail climbed up and then headed for Mono Meadows. Along the way we encountered more Search & Rescue. They were still looking for the missing hiker but it sounded like they were winding down the search. The last few miles to the car were a grind but we kept at it and topped out some time after 11am. We would load up and then start the long drive home. I got home around 11pm and that ended another wonderful trip into my beloved Sierras! This was an absolutely spectacular hike & I’m glad we made it happen! Thanks Chumley for accompanying me along this death march!
17.3 mi • 0 ft aeg
Yosemite Mist Trail- Clouds Rest- Merced River
 In January, I found out I was going to have 5 free nights near Fresno in May. I found out that it wasn’t a good time to be doing what I wanted to do. I looked into Skyline to Sea and Henry Coe, but I really wanted to be in the mountains and I had the gear for it. The melt was going well and it was 70 and sunny in the valley leading up to my trip. Glacier Point Road opened up and we had an itinerary starting at Glacier Point to LYV and beyond. Then they started calling for a winter storm watch, then warning. So, that was a bummer. But my buddy had never been to Yosemite and I really love it there, so we figured we would lower expectations a bit and make the best of it.

Sat, May 18
We headed up 41 to the valley. I stopped to get a picture from Tunnel View (it is a sentimental place for my wife and I and I told her I would get a couple pictures we could stitch together for some wall art). Got pretty lucky everything wasn’t clouded over yet. And stopped at the Bridalveil turnout for a view of El Cap that I’m fond of.

We got to the backpackers campground and got set up right before the rain started. There were four groups there, I think. One group had about a dozen people with big coolers and bikes, which was confusing. I found out later that it was a group of volunteers working on one of the Pines campgrounds. With Glacier Point Road closed, we changed our permit to start at Happy Isles (there were only 15 spots left!). Oh, and I have to mention how surprised I was that they don’t price gouge beer in the village store. It was $0.99 - $1.29 a can!

Sun, May 19
It was raining in the morning, and it looked like it was going to stay that way. We decided to get going, more time to dry out in our tents at LYV. I saw a coyote, which was pretty cool. It’s a longer walk from the backpackers campground than I thought. It was around 8:30 and we didn’t see many people at all. In fact, we didn’t see another person until a solo hiker passed us on the footbridge. We had rain all the way up Vernal Falls. It wasn’t too bad, it had a different kind of feel to it with fog and mist and low clouds. We had the top to ourselves.

It started to snow as we made our way up Nevada Falls. We saw maybe 5 people. Then it really started to snow. It was really pretty, but I was getting a little nervous about the snow and ice collecting on the little mini stairs on the trail.

We got to LYV and there were a couple inches of snow. But then the sun came out and it was crazy how fast the snow melted. It was so cool how the trees were dropping snowballs everywhere.

Mon, May 20

It was absolutely beautiful in the morning. I just walked around with my camera and enjoyed the sun.

This was supposed to be the nicest day, so we headed up towards Clouds Rest. The trail was covered in snow starting at the junction with the JMT (7200 feet) at 9:00 ish. We headed up through the woods and the maybe 3-4 inches of snow. Around the quarter domes, it was 6-8 inches and very wet and slushy. Every step was accompanied by a half step slide back it seemed like. My microspikes were defeated, and in time, so was my spirit. My legs were rubber and I fell a couple times, so I called it right there. Still some pretty good views from there, but the clouds were getting lower. The snow was significantly melted on our way down, ending at around 7500 feet. We stayed in LYV again that night.

Tues, May 21

The next morning was fog and rain. We decided to hike out to Glacier Point and hope that things cleared up, at least for a little bit. Spoiler alert – that did not happen. We missed the turn for the Panorama Trail and went through the ice cut. I guess we didn’t look far enough ahead, so we got stuck clinging to the wall in the middle of it while a pack train came through. Luckily, we realized our mistake and got to go back through it. It was deep in places. You could keep your feet mostly dry with precision rock hopping. There were a couple trees down over the trail, including a huge one we had to bushwack around near Panorama Point. The “view” from Panorama Point was a disappointment. And we decided to turn around there. But the sun came out for about 5 minutes as we crossed back over Nevada Falls.

We decided to pack up and head up the Merced for the next two nights. The rain and snow hung overhead like we were in a peanuts cartoon. I love the idea of finding cool campsites, but in practice, I suck at it. And my incompetence was exacerbated by low visibility and reluctance to poke around too much in the rain. We ended up finding a previously used campsite right by where the trail washes out beneath what sounded like water coming off the cliffs. We got warm and dry in the tents and sat beneath the little tarp I brought (really came in handy), ate, had a little whiskey, and hit the sack.

Wed, May 22

Woke to a drop dead gorgeous scene. The sun came out, there was snow everywhere. We could see the cascades from the cliffs we heard the night before. I walked around in my last pair of dry socks, garbage bags, and crocs. Besides being stylish, they worked perfectly until I got cocky and crossed the stream in them. Apparently, I had created some holes in the bags wandering through the brush.

We had a leisurely morning, then headed up to Merced Lake on a day hike. This was actually the best weather day we had. It was sunny, and there was water EVERYWHERE. We saw two people at the cascades and that was it for the day. And for the first time this trip, we made it to our destination.

And, I was secretly hoping to see waterwheels, and I got to!

Thurs, May 23

We got up and moving early and got to the valley by noon. The “Ice Cut” is so cool in the spring. This video is from the second part of it. I was too busy getting soaked to film the first part (the waterfall in the background).

Those switchbacks down the JMT seemed like they would never end. We were re-introduced to the throngs at the footbridge. I talked with a guy who was there chaperoning a sixth grade field trip. I saw one woman come around the bend on the paved part and half whisper “oh my goodness”. It was cool to see everyone enjoying the scene, although there was a serious lack of trail manners. Made me glad we didn’t come down the Mist Trial.

I had some family stuff to do, then stopped by Kings Canyon on the way back to Fresno.

So, basically, those who said “don’t go” were right, and so were those who said “go anyway”. We had the gear to stay comfortable, and it was great to be out in the wilderness, but it would have been nice to catch a few more views. It was cool to get some experience in snow. Now I know what people are talking about with consolidated vs new snow and how that affects my hiking.
212 mi • 46,000 ft aeg
John Muir Trail
 Hiked the John Muir Trail, heading southbound, from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal. Including a climb over Kearsarge Pass for resupply, the total distance was apx. 212 miles. I went solo, but can't really say that I was alone. I met a lot of cool people on the trail.

The smoke from the Ferguson fire was somewhat of an issue, but not enough to really affect progress on the trail. You will notice the smoke in some of the pictures. Once I got south of Vermillion Valley Resort, it was pretty much completely clear.

One of the aforementioned cool people was a gentleman from Cave Creek. It was great to meet someone who was familiar with our local trails. We talked about how important a resource HAZ is for us AZ residents.

It was a great experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can free up a few weeks.

30.5 mi • 10,759 ft aeg
 Mount Williamson had been on my radar for some time. Driving down Highway 395, it's impossible to miss. Sure, Whitney is taller, but this one always just looked more fun - and stately! I also knew that there was a popular sense of dread around this one, largely because of its approach on the Shepherds Pass Trail. It's rare to find a 14er to climb that asks you to cover 10,000'+ of gain by its standard route - and that includes some scrambling (albeit brief). Suffice it to say, the allure became stronger the more I read about it.

I also realized how much more fun one of these efforts is when you get the right crew together. And we really did have a great group for this one. In the end, I convinced (suckered) Chumley, Taylor, Sam, and also my friend and trusty big mountain partner Shawn from Colorado to join. He invited his fellow Denver(-ite?) Joe, who'd climbed Orizaba with us this past January. I never thought 5 others would be down for this 3 day adventure, but there we were, permits in hand and packs up on Friday morning ready to go.

The first mile of the trail stays in the canyon, and is a bit overgrown. It got me worried about the switchbacks above I knew were to come, and the condition of the trail there. Those worries evaporated, though, the moment we left the 4th creek crossing and started up the hill. The Shepherds Pass Trail is in great shape, and it felt like we were cruising up to the Symmes Creak saddle. Everyone felt great after that first 2700' push, and there was even excited chatter there among the group about maybe pushing above our planned Anvil Camp. The drop to water near Mahogany Flat and the abrupt restart quelled that chatter, and we were all happy and ready to see camp, especially since minutes after everything was set up, the sky opened up. A gentle but annoying rain full most of the afternoon. Anvil really is about the only shady, tree-covered spot on the route, so it makes sense to take advantage of it.

Up for an alpine start and on the trail at 4 a.m. under nice conditions, we strung out a bit as everyone settled into their pace. The nice trail helped progress up to Shepherds Pass, where we enjoyed sunrise. Regrouping after some scree-slogging, we enjoyed some relative flat as we all eyed the route up Tyndall en route to the Williamson Bowl. I'm always struck by the contrast of the slope on the Sierra Crest: rugged and sharp to the east, gentler to the west, at least from what I've seen so far. Williamson Bowl was great from a scenery standpoint, but you have to carefully pick your way through the boulders. Again, I'd heard a lot of belly-aching about this stretch prior to the trip, but honestly, it's not bad. The boulders are mostly solid, and it's generally clear where to go. At the base of the gully, Chums and Joe couldn't contain their excitement and busted up, while the other four of us settled into a nice pace and steadily made our way up. We nervously watched the clouds start to build near 8 am (what is this - Colorado???), but knew we'd be able to get up and down before the light show started.

Sam and Shawn pulled ahead of Tay and I a bit as we neared the much-talked-about chimney. We watched them - well, Shawn - start up the wrong way, but eventually get into the crack system and make his way up. Tay and I followed behind, and we popped out to an amazing view of the summit plateau and the Owens Valley, greeted by the already-summited Chumley, who had eschewed his summit beer for a photo op and was hauling it back to camp. We passed Joe coming down as we headed up, and had sweet summit success with cloud views. Last of the top 10 US 14ers done for Shawn and I! The weather made it so we couldn't stay long, and down the chute we went. Shawn and Sam moved ahead again, but waited for Tay and I at a prime lakeside lunch/nap spot. The rains chased away our laziness and made us leave Williamson Bowl with some urgency as we watched Mt. Williamson get enveloped in dark clouds. Good timing on our part. The trip back to our temporary Anvil home was smooth and everyone was all smiles around camp. Jack and Captain were passed around and it was great to see everyone laughing and smiling after the big day. Sure, there were some expletives hurled my way throughout the day, but what's a good trip without that?

The way home on the final day was fast, and the weekend was over before we knew it. The climb back up the Symmes Saddle wasn't too bad, but good thing we started early as hiding from the sun isn't easy there. We even had a well-timed 9L cameo at the saddle! It was great to see him and hike the last few miles back together. Joe went back up to get Tyndall that morning, so didn't join our hike out or parking lot celebration. The AZ group took off to start their long drive home after a good amount of hanging out, and Joe was only about 45 minutes behind from when they left. For the three of us, it was back to Reno, cold beers, and thoughts of what to do next, although we had to dodge some pretty impressive thunderstorms on the way home. Thanks to all of you guys for making it happen - great trip!
6.35 mi • 1,762 ft aeg
 planned off day for the girls. this was my day i had planned to do Alta Peak. as it turned out it was the only day that was a definite no go up above treeline due to weather, so chose a local route to run early.

steep dirt road up and twisty single track down. saw just one biker. hot at the end. definitely no alta peak, but i still got to see something new.

spent the rest of the day lounging and swimming in the river after the weather passed.
7.36 mi • 1,861 ft aeg
 we decided to make the drive up to Mineral King, a place i have dreamed of visiting for years. man it was worth the wait. pretty fun and wild drive up there, where we learned at the ranger station we should marmot proof our car. apparently it's a problem unique to mineral king. they had a zillion tarps so we grabbed a couple and wrapped my car like a big christmas present :lol:

mineral king valley is utterly spectacular. as soon as we got on trail, there were deer, marmots and grouse everywhere. pretty sharp little climb up to the lake. we got drizzled on a bit. we hit the lake just before the sky really opened up for a while. the lake is gorgeous. couple cracks of thunder, so unfortunately we cut our time there short and bolted. heavy rain for the first few miles back. it cleared very quickly when we got back into the valley and afforded some incredible views, so we lollygagged it.

despite the crazy weather, this was probably our favorite day in the park. really amazing place. i'd love to come back again and blow out some big stuff up there. LOT of options.
3.43 mi • 763 ft aeg
 decided to end our day up in the park with this excellent summit, in lieu of moro rock and its crowds. definitely the right choice. this is a little gem of a hike to great summit with quite spectacular 360 views and minimal traffic.

great flowers and shade on the way up. we saw a couple grouse too. marmot on the way down.

super cool short hike.
4.19 mi • 554 ft aeg
 took a day to do some easy hikes and sightseeing in the park.

nice mellow trail with cool waterfall at the end. definitely way more people than the previous two days but not overbearing at all. chilled for a bit at the waterfall. on the way back we found a primo swimming hole in the creek and spent some time there. sierra is always up for a good swimming hole! chatted with, then hiked out with, a couple of very nice dudes from toronto
13.15 mi • 2,674 ft aeg
 roughly 14 years ago this hike changed my life. Michelle and I did this on a whim the first time we visited Sequoia, and while i was already definitely into hiking, what i saw back then for the first time (not long after moving from indiana) inspired me in ways i never imagined possible. fast forward some 16 thousand miles later and here we are. ready to share it with my daughter.

i was somewhat surprised and thrilled beyond words everyone wanted to do the whole thing. i was originally planning on us hiking out to the first lake, Heather Lake. it was a perfectly gorgeous day and they wanted to hike them all. Everything was as great as i remembered.

michelle doesn't usually like to go much over 10 miles at a pop, but she totally will for a classic like this. sierra was fired up and wanted to do something "very wildernessy"... :)

wonderful day. very proud of Sierra for crushing her first big mountain hike. i told her 99% of adults in the park wouldn't even try this hike. we only saw a few people all day. goofy marmot at pear lake provided entertainment for a very scenic lunch

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