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High Sierra: John Muir's Range of Light


The Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country


National Geographic TOPO California

High Sierra Backpacking Destinations

The Sierras comprise a vast area from the point of view of the backpacker. There are hundreds of routes and destinations to explore. Where to go? For how long? and How to get there? Some Great Destinations

Evolution Basin

Classic alpine scenery in a basin of spectacular lakes. The stone Muir Hut at Muir Pass brings it all together. Evolution Lake at the lower end is grassy and just above timberline, spectacular view down into Evolution Valley. Sapphire and Wanda are superb! You will have to work to get here: access points include Bishop Pass, Piute Pass, and Lamarck Col. Consult your guidebook.

The Tablelands

The Tablelands provide wonderful and easy off-trail hiking from Sequoia. This is about the easiest access to alpine scenery from the Sequoia area. Good trail hiking to the idyllic Pear Lake, followed by easy cross country and gradual ascent over alpine meadow terrain.

The Enchanted Gorge

This is for experienced backpackers/mountaineers in good physical condition. Be prepared for a long trip. The gorge will challenge your knees and ankles. Access is multi-day, then the descent, followed by no easy route of return. Here is a route one possibility: Start from South Lake out of Bishop to the John Muir Trail and proceed north on the JMT and then cross country to the Ionian Basin. Descend the Enchanted Gorge and then proceed northwest up Goddard Creek. At the upper end of this canyon, one can return to the Ionian Basin and exit back out South Lake.

The Kaweahs

The Kaweahs are the remnants of ancient mountain range, remote, from either the east or west side, but worth the effort, and barely visited. Access from the west can be via Kaweah Gap or Mineral King, or other more challenging ways. Access from the east can be New Army Pass, Whitney Portal/Trail Crest.

Humphreys Basin

Humphreys Basin has a multitude of lakes at treeline and lots of alpine meadows. For the most barren head to Desolation Lake under the face of Mt. Humphreys. Access is easy over Piute Pass from North Lake.

Mt. Ritter area

Garnet Lake, Nydiver Lakes, and Thousand Lake under the shadows of Mt. Ritter! Great hiking over North Glacier Pass to Lake Catherine.

King?s Canyon

King?s Canyon provides many opportunities including excellent loop trips using Bubbs Creek and Woods Creek. Consider Rae Lakes, Sixty Lakes Basin, and the Cirque Crest. Starting point is Cedar Grove at the road end in King?s Canyon.

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