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Thread: Overnight at Emerald Lake, Sequoia NP

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Visalia, CA USA
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    5,322

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    For car camping, Lodgepole is the closest. Another that is not too far away is Dorst, about 20-30 minutes drive from Wolverton. Stony Creek is a little further than Dorst. And about 45 minutes drive would be the campgrounds around Grant Grove - Azalea, Crystal Spring, and Sunset.

    South Fork would be way too far from the trailhead, a good hour and a half or two hour drive, and it would be hot there in the summer. That being said, I have never seen South Fork all filled up. Of course, now that I said that, you will go there and find it full

    Not quite as far, but still a distance, would be Potwisha or Buckeye Flat, but it is pretty hot there in the summer. From there it would be a good 45 minutes to the Lakes trailhead at Wolverton. There is a one-lane section on the road going up to Giant Forest that has traffic control, only one direction going at a time. You can sit there waiting for 20 minutes for the light to change.

    Another option would be to go to Mineral King and camp at Cold Springs (or if no spots are available there, further down at Atwell Mill). See the picture of Franklin Lake above in post 13 in this thread, it is only six miles from the end of the road at Mineral King. Of course, that means you have to go up the Mineral King road; the last 25 miles are only 1.5 lanes wide with two (relatively short) dirt sections, gaining 6000' elevation and with 698 curves. I will be there this coming Friday and Saturday to climb Sawtooth Peak.
    Last edited by lambertiana; 07-08-2012 at 11:30 PM.

  2. #22
    Thanks lambertiana, I am guessing you were coming from the north, as you list the northern sites first. I will be coming from the south. I plan to crash in visalia on Friday night and hit the road early on sat morning. I will check out the first come first serve sites on 198 south of lodgepole. If no luck, I am planning to just set up a spot in the national forest area (someone said that you are permitted to do that when I called the lodgepole visitors' center). Sounds like I can even get a fire permit if I stop at one of the ranger stations on the way. If this doesn't sound right to anyone, let me know.

    I might check out those other sites that you mention as well.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Visalia, CA USA
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    5,322
    If you are aiming for the campsites on 198 below Giant Forest, expect to be warm. Those are low elevation campgrounds and it will hit 100 or more during the day. Visalia is forecast to hit 103 on Friday, and Potwisha and Buckeye will be close to that.

    Camping in the national forest areas north of Giant Forest is a viable option. There are no places where you could do this on the approach up 198, but once you get to Giant Forest you keep going north until you leave the park. Take the road east toward Big Meadow and Horse Corral, or one of the dirt roads just north of Stony Creek that head toward the Jennie Lakes/Weaver Lake trailheads. Check at the entrance to Sequoia for local conditions and suggestions on where to go. Also check what fire restrictions may be in place, it is a very dry year.

    I normally drive up to that area on 198 from Visalia, but last week I entered from the north because I was driving directly from work in Fresno on 180. If your initial plan is to go to the national forest area near Big Meadow, it may actually be faster to drive to Fresno and take 180, turning south when you enter the park near Grant Grove. 198 may be a shorter distance, but it is a lot slower, too.

    Also, be very careful about leaving any food, wrappers, coolers, or food containers in your car when you are on the trail, especially if they are in plain view. Best case scenario is that a ranger will issue an expensive citation. Worst case scenario is that a bear will tear the door off your car to get at it. It's not as bad as Yosemite Valley, but still a concern. There are bear boxes at the trailhead at Wolverton where you can store food items while you are on the trail.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    3,505
    sweetness! that view is postcard perfect.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    13,818
    Wow, what a place. Thanks for sharing.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by lambertiana View Post
    If you are aiming for the campsites on 198 below Giant Forest, expect to be warm. Those are low elevation campgrounds and it will hit 100 or more during the day. Visalia is forecast to hit 103 on Friday, and Potwisha and Buckeye will be close to that.

    Camping in the national forest areas north of Giant Forest is a viable option. There are no places where you could do this on the approach up 198, but once you get to Giant Forest you keep going north until you leave the park. Take the road east toward Big Meadow and Horse Corral, or one of the dirt roads just north of Stony Creek that head toward the Jennie Lakes/Weaver Lake trailheads. Check at the entrance to Sequoia for local conditions and suggestions on where to go. Also check what fire restrictions may be in place, it is a very dry year.

    I normally drive up to that area on 198 from Visalia, but last week I entered from the north because I was driving directly from work in Fresno on 180. If your initial plan is to go to the national forest area near Big Meadow, it may actually be faster to drive to Fresno and take 180, turning south when you enter the park near Grant Grove. 198 may be a shorter distance, but it is a lot slower, too.

    Also, be very careful about leaving any food, wrappers, coolers, or food containers in your car when you are on the trail, especially if they are in plain view. Best case scenario is that a ranger will issue an expensive citation. Worst case scenario is that a bear will tear the door off your car to get at it. It's not as bad as Yosemite Valley, but still a concern. There are bear boxes at the trailhead at Wolverton where you can store food items while you are on the trail.
    Thanks, I actually got a spot at Dorst. I did enter from the north, and it probably was better than coming up from the south (I left that way and it took forever). I was pretty negligent in getting food out of my car, but luckily the bear left my car alone. I did see him on the trail though, at the largest creek area on the trail before you get to the watchtower area. He was pretty big and had a beautiful brownish color.

    The trail wasn't too busy. I saw maybe 10 to 20 people in total? I wanted to head all the way up to Pear Lake, but I ran out of light. I descended down to Astor Lake to get some pics (easier angle than at Emerald Lake, with the mountains right there). If there is an easy trail back up to the main trail from there, I must have missed it--having to scramble all the way up the hill to the trail was quite a feat.

    For anyone who is wondering, Dorst isn't the greatest campground in my opinion. I guess it is okay, but pretty crammed and a lot of loud people. If I go again, I think I will camp in the national forest. I'll have to find somewhere near bear boxes.

    I am more used to hiking in the Eastern Sierras on the other side of the mountains. The hikes there are similar, but usually about 2,000 feet higher. It was nice not having to operate at such a high altitude, and there was more forest and wildlife. The Eastern Sierras are more about straight mountains and crags.

    The weather was gorgeous-- maybe just a few degrees above what would have been perfect. The last thing that I will say is that if you are going with people who are more about sightseeing than hiking, there is plenty of that in the park near the trails.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Visalia, CA USA
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    5,322
    So, did the Emerald and Aster Lakes live up to your expectations?

    I saw a bear once at the large creek with grassy wet areas more toward the bottom of the trail.

    I agree about Dorst - cramped camping conditions. We took two of our granddaughters (nine and seven years old) there once, and when the rangers warned us about bear activity they got all excited about seeing bears. After it got dark we were sitting around the campfire and a bear walked up right behind me (couple feet away) whereupon the two girls decided that that was far too close for comfort. After that they wouldn't go anywhere without me. I think they thought they would see a bear from a distance, and when they realized that it could get up close and personal, that changed their attitude in a hurry.

  8. #28
    Yeah, I like the area a lot. It's a great hike. I'm sure it would have kept on impressing had I kept on going past emerald lake. I like that there is that little camp area by the lake where you can overnight it. I think I will have to try that some day, once I get all the equipment I need for backpacking. So far, I have an atmos 65, whisperlight universal stove, and a miox water purifier. I need to pick up a backpacking tent and lightweight sleeping bag -- looking at the kifaru bag. And for that area, I will also have to get a compact fishing pole and gear.

    By the way, what are some other good hikes in that area? I'll be taking people back to see the sights.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Visalia, CA USA
    Posts
    5,322
    I use an Atmos 65 pack, too.

    Lots of other hikes around there. If they can stand the drive up the Mineral King road, the best short distance hikes to high country scenery on the west side are found there. Try Franklin Lake first.

    If you just want to stay in the canyon bottoms, go to Roads End and hike up either the Woods Creek trail to Paradise Valley or the Bubbs Creek trail as far as you want. Two days hike up Bubbs Creek and then East Creek gets you to a beautiful location at East Lake, and not many people go there. Good fishing, too.

  10. #30
    I'll have to check it out. I have the tom harrison trail map for the whitney high country that I used when I was there -- I'm guessing most of those areas should be covered on there.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Hotville TX
    Posts
    2,111
    Beautiful photos! Would love to get lost there for a few months....

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    West Monroe, La
    Posts
    284
    Man those are some beautiful pics!

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