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The Best Hikes in Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest

322 Triplog Reviews in the Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest
Most recent of 54 deeper Triplog Reviews
7.2 mi • 1,493 ft aeg
This was a scenic hike with many lake views ranking right up there with most of the Eastern Sierra day hikes I've done over the past 8 years. This one had been near the bottom of my To-Do list because I thought it would be over crowded and getting a campsite might be difficult because of its popularity. However I discovered that there are "first-come first-serve overflow campsites" along FS139 on Virginia Creek that are called Upper and Lower Virginia Creek Primitive Campgrounds, also referred to as overflow campgrounds with both RV and tent campsites. They're a step above dispersed campgrounds with a host at each, well kept outhouses, bear boxes, and metal fire rings but no tables and no drinking water, and they're free. There are separate entrances on FS139 along the Virginia Lakes Road for the two campground because of a long-ago bridge washout on FS139.

I visited the trailhead at the parking lot on Big Valley Lake in the afternoon the day before my hike, Sunday, and found it very busy with families fishing with their kids along the shore and the parking lot nearly full. Arriving the next morning, Monday, for my hike at 8:00am there were no people and the parking lot was about 3/4 empty. The hike started out in near solitude for most of the morning but due to my slowness at high altitude about 8 hikers ended up passing me near noon as I approached 11000ft.

In summary, a beautiful hike peaking out at 11120ft elev but of modest length at about 7 miles to give a good cardio workout. If you want more you could always extend the hike to Summit Lake to add another 1000ft AEG on the way back.
9.11 mi • 1,647 ft aeg
Green Creek Trail to East Lake
This was my first of 8 day-hikes I would take in the Eastern Sierras over eleven days from June 24 to July 4 as I worked my way south along Highway 395 from Bridgeport to Bishop, CA. The Green Creek Trailhead is in the Forest Service Green Creek Campground and on this trip was only about 20 yds from my campsite. An alternate TH is in a parking lot about a quarter mile before reaching the CG. The trail provides access to three beautiful lakes (Green Lake, West Lake and East Lake) within easy day hiking distance. I've been to all three lakes on previous hikes in the fall of 2019 and the summer of 2020. I keep returning because of the beauty of this area and the light tourist load relative to many other destinations in the Eastern Sierras. The trailhead and campground is accessed via the well maintained gravel Green Creek Road from its intersection with HW395 4.5 miles south of Bridgeport. There are a number of scenic primitive dispersed campsites in the California Dept of Fish and Wildlife's Green Creek Wildlife Area along the creek a few miles before reaching the end of the road. I was expecting packed campgrounds on this trip but was surprised to find that only 2, including mine, of the 10 campsites in the FS CG were occupied during my stay. A quick drive-thru check of two of the dispersed camping areas on my day of departures found only 3 sites out of about 12 occupied. Campfire Permits are required in CA for open fires, such as campfire, barbecues and portable gas stoves on federally controlled lands and private lands that are the property of another person. The permits are not required when camping in official campgrounds. I was never checked for a permit the 27 years I lived in CA. However a campsite neighbor over the July 4th weekend told me they had gotten a $500 fine for not having a permit a few days before when dispersed camping. The permits are available free on-line after watching a 2.5 minute video and taking a 10 question test about fire safety.

The first section of the hike up to Green Lake offers views of a large beaver pond and creek rapids along with glimpses of the mountains ahead and the valley behind. The first major creek crossing is near the outlet to Green Lake and the wide spacing of a couple of the stepping stones gave me pause. A young backpacking couple showed up while I was contemplating crossing on a log jam about a 100 ft downstream. I suggested the log jam to them and then waited for the two of them to cross first to test the route before successfully attempting it myself. : rambo : The trail to East Lake at this point can get confused with the several side tracks to Green Lake but choosing the trail that heads directly up-hill away from the creek will get you there. However I took a short side trip to the shore on one of these trails to enjoy the spectacular views of Green Lake. There I encountered a group of four fishermen relaxing in their camp near the lake. I stopped to chat and soon got involved in exchanging old fishing stories. The more talkative of the four had an Americanized Italian Accent. He kept his conversation well lubricated with frequent swigs out of an Italian type leather canteen from which he soon offered me a swig of Brandy. If I'd taken up his offer I probably would have been there the rest of the day. :)

The section of the trail to East Lake is a moderate climb with switchbacks crossing back and forth across the creek several times. The creek was low enough to make the crossings easy on well placed stepping stones. Reaching a viewpoint at the edge of the lake I saw a large trout (18-20 inches) cruising by confirming some of the stories I'd heard from my fishermen friends down at Green Lake. A fisherwoman showed up at the lake shore near me to take photos. I told her she had just missed a chance at a large trout. She politely told me she had no need, her pack was already full. I continued following the trail along the east side of the lake to take more photos before starting my return to camp. On a day hike a couple days later I would be at a viewpoint on top of Kavanaugh ridge (11000 ft) on the East edge of the Hoover Wilderness looking down on this lake and several others.
21.15 mi • 7,834 ft aeg
Never had done the full shebang of North Loop out and back without the cutoff of Trail Canyon Trail. This adds approx 4 mi round trip compared with using Trail Canyon Trail and also increases the AEG. Figured there wouldn't be many people out on a Tuesday and it would give me a chance to get out of the oppressive heat.
Turned out great. Saw only 5 people during my hike and had the peak to myself for lunch. Chipmunks and birds were my main companions.
2 downed trees to go around or under and a few wee patches of avoidable snow, with the trail overall in fine condition.

Above tree line, plants are just beginning to flower.
7.26 mi • 1,727 ft aeg
I had a little time to kill on a long drive from northern Utah to South Lake Tahoe. I've seen these mountains from I-80 a couple of times, and they always intrigued me. After hours of driving through barren basins, surrounded by barren mountains, you hit Elko and all of a sudden there are huge, lush granite peaks on the horizon!

I slept in the back of the rental near the bottom of FR-660, intending to get an early start. I woke up around 5:30 A.M. and drove FR-660 all the way up to Road's End TH. TH access is paved all the way up. I arrived to an empty TH, a fresh dusting of snow, and 27F temperatures. Brrr!

The trail is well defined and easy to follow all the way up to Liberty Pass. It crosses a few small creeks, but I never had to get my feet wet.

Liberty and Lamoille lakes are definitely the highlights of this short hike. Walk the extra quarter mile at the top of Liberty Pass for the excellent view of Liberty Lake.

If you are just passing through on I-80 and have a few hours to spare, this is definitely a nice spot to get out and stretch the legs. I read online that almost all the lakes along the Ruby Crest Trail are stocked with fish. Seems like it would be a great place to come do some backpacking. Some day I would like to come back and do the Ruby Crest Trail in its entirety, along with some more exploring.

Most color was found below the TH along FR-660.
17 mi • 5,600 ft aeg
This will probably end up being my biggest hike of the year, which is fine as it is truly spectacular. I trust the GPS route data I used for the miles, and I feel the AEG is probably accurate, but I am not 100% sure I lost and gained that much additional elevation on the hike. Did I?

Passing through Las Vegas and with the long drive, I remembered why I always ignored this hike and opted for Colorado or California hikes and peaks in the past. However, that really isn't a good reason to skip Charleston, more so when living at low elevation, but mostly because this is probably one of the most interesting hikes I have done in the last few years. The hike along the upper cliffs is just spectacular, the views of Kyle Canyon, and then the bristlecone forest are really worthy of a hike in their own right. Charleston Peak, as an Ultra-prominent summit might as well be much higher. I am sure I'll be back someday to hike this again, and other stuff in the range.

I ended up being in better shape than I expected, and it turns out that yes, the heat, has a lot to do with my lower tolerance for longer hikes this year. Altitude did fatigue me and slow me down, but I was not sore or dead tired as I expected. I was tired for the last few miles, but 2 days out I barely notice, which is good and much better than 1 month ago in Zion, and even 2 weeks ago on Wrightson. Guess I like hanging out in heat, but not hiking in it. Who knew? My legs, it seems. I found the upper 6 miles (12 round trip) above Trail Canyon on the North Loop Trail to be spectacular, and the miles simply are not as noticeable as one might think they would be. They go fast!

I ended up having great dry conditions with zero storm risk, and fantastic hiking conditions. A trough was pushing the monsoon flow east, but it brought smoke into the valleys from numerous fires in California. So, I could barely see most distance points, and Telescope Peak was hazy and just visible. No Sierra Nevada views, as hoped for. I bet, on a good day in early winter or fall after the cold dry, clear air comes in, this is a fantastic place to be.

Pretty scattered, but this is a drier range.
15.77 mi • 4,735 ft aeg
Mount Charleston
This was the way to celebrate July 4th.
A little snow still clinging here and there, but nothing needing traction devices. Both trails were in reasonable condition.
The high elevation flowers are popping!
All the running over the past year has significantly improved my cardio - even with the elevation, this hike felt like no big deal.

More people summiting than I expected - aren't you supposed to be spending compulsory time with the family??? :lol:
19.77 mi • 6,101 ft aeg
Charleston Peak Loop
We started hiking about 645 from Trail Canyon Trailhead which connects with the North Loop Trail. It’s about 2 miles up Trail Canyon and 1700 feet gain to North Trail junction but high quality trail all the way. Once on North Loop Trail it’s less steep and some traversing towards Charleston Peak.

We ran into first snow at about 10,900 on North Loop Trail. There were a few sections of snow along the traverse but nothing that we couldn’t cross. The traverse also had some cool rocky cliffs on the approach to Charleston Peak. Just below the peak the final switchbacks kick in for the last 900 feet above tree line.

We took an extended break on the summit which we had to ourselves for about 10 minutes until a group of people came up from the South Loop Trail. After lunch break we headed down South Loop Trail which is slightly longer than North Loop. Just like North Loop the South traverses along the ridge line descending gradually for about 5 miles. The South Loop trail had been closed for several years because of fire damage in 2013 but has since reopened. Most of the first damage is in that 5 mile section on the south side of the ridgeline which sparred Kyle Canyon.

South Loop abruptly descends from the ridge line at the Griffith Peak junction. But before dropping down went up Griffith Peak about 1 mile round trip. The fire burned the summit but still nice views with elevation just above 11,000.

Back at the junction we headed down South Loop with impressive switchbacks dropping 2700 feet in about 4 miles. Again very good trail conditions as was most of the North and South Loop trail. Cathedral is the end of South Loop Trail so we used a connector trail over to Echo trail head and then hiked about ½ mile up the road to Trail Canyon trail head and our vehicle. Of course if we had two vehicles it would have been an easy shuttle but not really a big deal with only about a mile between trail heads.
4.68 mi • 1,036 ft aeg
Was wondering why my Fletcher Canyon, Nevada, description had not posted after a week. So, I checked the forum. Now I understand. ---<--<-@


My wife Bernie and I were in Las Vegas to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Lisbon Lions winning the European Cup in 1967 at a convention hosted by the North American Federation of Celtic Supporters clubs at the Westgate Resort & Casino. (The guy who owns Westgate is the same befuddled octogenerian featured with his trophy wife in the “Queen of Versailles” documentary.)

We arrived at the Fletcher Canyon trailhead, 18 miles from US-95, low on fuel. My wife and I discussed what to do. Eventually, I hit on the idea of calling AAA, of which we are both members. Get this: AAA won’t help you if you are so low on fuel you won’t make it to the nearest gas station. AAA wants you to actually run out first. :x

The second time I called AAA, I lied. 8-[

I spent some time searching the Fletcher Spring area, but never found the source. I did, however, find a small cave covered with “modern petroglyphs”. [-(

On my way up canyon, I passed a group of talkative young adults (with selfie stick), and saw two pairs of hikers already heading back. I saw a plastic-topped coffee cup laying on the ground, which I picked up. It seeped coffee on my hand. One of those couples dropped it.

Thank you for your contributions to nature’s beauty.

I finally found water about 500 yards above Fletcher Spring. On the topo, there is an unnamed spring symbol. Pouring over a small boulder, the flow was light but quite audible. The water soaked into the sand at the bottom the spill.

As I settled in to take more pictures, the talkative young adults caught up to me. I said, “Hey, I don’t mind you talking, but if you could give me 30 seconds of quiet to film the ‘falls’, I would appreciate it.” They agreed … and were quiet for maybe 10 seconds. :--:

Rather than cause a scene, I sat back against the canyon wall to relax, while they explored — and talked, and talked, and talked some more — above the spill. After about 30 minutes they finally started back down canyon and, as a gesture of goodwill, I took a group photo of them. :)

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
4.95 mi • 1,375 ft aeg
I go to Vegas every February for the annual Western Petroleum Marketers Association Conference. All I have to do is show up for the dinners and pretend to have fun, and my days are free to do whatever I want. My first hike on Monday was to the Rainbow Escarpment. I got a somewhat late start, as I had first stopped by the Pro fuel terminal on the opposite side of town to say Hi to the terminal employees and steal some hats. When I finally reached the trailhead it was very windy, and foggy. Luckily, the trail immediately starts climbing, which helped me warm up.

Views were very limited with the fog, so I was kind of bummed about that. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of the views below, but they never lasted for more than a few seconds. The geology in the area is fascinating, and the vegetation is different enough from the Sonoran desert to be interesting as well. The trail was enjoyable though, and I took some of the side trails for short distances, but since there were no views to be had in the fog, I didn't waste much time and decided to move on to another hike. I'll try this one again on a clearer day, and probably follow the ridge further north too.
10.4 mi • 3,309 ft aeg
We spent several days in Vegas for a friends wedding but managed to get away for one day and hike Bonanza Peak in the Mt Charleston Wilderness. The trailhead is just over an hour from the Vegas strip so not a long ride. Turning off Hwy 95 the Cold Creek Road is mostly paved except for the last 2 miles. Well marked trailhead near the community of Cold Creek at 7500 starting elevation. The trail is easy to follow and begins significant elevation gain right from the start with switchbacks. However the trail is in exceptional shape all the way to the summit with numerous switchbacks but at an even grade. As the trail switchbacks through ponderosa, spruce and eventually bristlecone the views get continually better.

Approaching the summit we had to leave the trail and follow decent faint route for the last quarter mile making the summit in little over 3 hours and enjoyed the views taking about 30 minute break. Visibility was decent so we could see Mt Charleston summit and the rest of the range. Interestingly the trail kept going past Bonanza Peak as part of the wilderness divide trail that goes all the way to Mt Charleston so looks like some good backpacking options beyond the peak. After the break took a leisurely pace back down and didn't see any others all day although it was a Friday.

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