Backpacking Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley

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It’s no surprise Yosemite is one of the most visited National Parks in the country – the place is beautiful. Backpacking is a great way to get away from the crowds of Yosemite Valley. The trails are still more heavily travelled than many others in the Sierras, but the scenery is unbeatable. There are several different ways to get from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. Our route took us over Clouds Rest and up Half Dome. Continue reading “Backpacking Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley”

Lake Aloha via the Ralston Peak Trail

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Shortly after our last failed attempt at backpacking in Desolation Wilderness, I was ready to try again. We waited a few weeks for more snow to melt, then made our reservation for Lake Aloha (Zone 33). We snagged 6 of the allotted 25 spots for this zone.

Basics: This overnight hike was about 13 miles round-trip. This distance sounds easier than it is – the Ralston trail begins by climbing 2400-ft in a few short miles. Anyone looking for an easier approach can access Lake Aloha from the Echo Lakes area. From the route described in this post, it’s possible to take short detours to climb Ralston Peak or visit several other Desolation Wilderness lakes. Continue reading “Lake Aloha via the Ralston Peak Trail”

Lyons Creek Trail – Desolation Wilderness

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Things don’t always go according to plan.  I’m normally pretty good at planning stuff and I have decent luck most of the time, but every once in a while hiking does not go how I expect.

Continue reading “Lyons Creek Trail – Desolation Wilderness”

Ohlone Wilderness Trail

The Ohlone Wilderness Trail connects Del Valle Regional Park (just south of Livermore) to Mission Peak Regional Preserve (in Fremont). The trail is 28 miles long with 7,100 feet of elevation gain including Rose Peak and Mission Peak.

Rose Peak, Mission Peak & 28 miles of Trail in Two Days

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Basics: The Ohlone Wilderness Trail connects Del Valle Regional Park (just south of Livermore) to Mission Peak Regional Preserve (in Fremont). It passes through Ohlone Regional Wilderness and Sunol Regional Wilderness, as well as some land owned by the San Francisco Water District where you’re not allowed to leave the trail. The trail is 28 miles in length, not including short detours to campsites or to the top of Mission Peak. There are many out-and-back options for hiking in this area. A shuttle or other transportation arrangement is required to thru-hike the entire 28 miles. Continue reading “Ohlone Wilderness Trail”

Shepherd Pass and Mount Tyndall

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Back in 2010 when we hiked the John Muir Trail, we took a one day detour to the base of Mount Tyndall with hopes of climbing it. In the morning, we scrambled about halfway up the North Rib before deciding to turn back. I think we didn’t climb the mountain for several reasons: we didn’t do any research and weren’t sure of the route, we still had many miles yet to go (with limited food), we had no helmets (the rocks were very loose), and it was freezing cold which gave us a late start on the climb.  Perhaps I’m just making excuses, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.  Unfortunately, our failure to summit bothered us until we finally decided to return and finish what we started. Continue reading “Shepherd Pass and Mount Tyndall”

Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs

Basics: Sespe Hot Springs is located deep in the Sespe Wilderness. There are three possible access points for reaching the springs, but all require either a ridiculously difficult day hike or a strenuous multi-day trip. The Ojai Ranger District has a useful PDF describing the various trails.  We chose to hike from Piedra Blanca (Rose Valley).  Some of the other access points are only open seasonally.  From Rose Valley, it’s a 16 mile trek to the hot springs.  The best time to visit the area is in the late fall, winter, or early spring, though after a large rainstorm, the multiple creek crossings could be difficult.  Summer can be crazy hot in this area.  Sespe Creek has some great swimming holes, but a 16 mile trek to the hot springs might be a bit much when it’s 100 degrees outside. Continue reading “Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs”

Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs

Basics: This scenic 20+ mile (roundtrip) hike follows Sespe Creek through one of Southern California’s most interesting and rugged wilderness areas. At the end of this long hike is a 100-degree hot spring- great for soaking in after the trek. There are numerous campsites near Willett Hot Springs. There are also many great camping opportunities along Sespe Creek – making this an ideal backpacking trip for anyone who is unsure about how far they feel like hiking. This wilderness is great in spring, summer or late fall. Summer is hot, but may be okay as long as the Sespe still has water in it. Continue reading “Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs”

Channel Islands – Santa Cruz Island Backcountry

Basics: This trip is an easy beginners backpacking trip on Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands NP. The trickiest part is getting a campsite reservation, arranging transportation to and from the island, and packing in your water. This hike could be anywhere from 7 to 20+ miles round trip, depending on where you get off the boat. We hiked 3.5 miles to the backcountry campsite, and took a longer 5 mile route back out. Continue reading “Channel Islands – Santa Cruz Island Backcountry”

Mount Saint Helens

Basics: This is a challenging winter climb to the summit of an active volcano in the Cascade Range.  The weather is unpredictable, but on a clear day the views are well worth the effort.  The hike from this particular route is approximately 12 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of over 5700 feet.  There is one other trail (with less elevation gain) to the summit, but it can only be accessed when the road to Climber’s Bivouac is free of snow.  Parking is free but permits are required anywhere above 4800 ft. Continue reading “Mount Saint Helens”