Best Emigrant Wilderness Backpacking

James Smith
• Wednesday, 20 January, 2021
• 10 min read

Historic and scenic, the trail offers magnificent vistas far south into Yosemite and north to the jumbled volcanic peaks of the Sonora Pass country. Although its rocky benches are ideal for picnics and loafing, early-season campers will want to retreat up the forested slopes for some relief from mosquitoes.

wilderness emigrant backpacking alltrails trails
(Source: www.alltrails.com)


Powell Lake EmigrantWilderness Length: 5.1 mi • Est. Very nice, easy trail, with great scenery, leading to a lake that is fed by a creek.

Choice to use NF parking lot, or pay at Kennedy Store (puts you 1/2 mile closer to trailhead). Option to stay in Upper Relief Lakes.

Both Salt Lick and Spring Meadows are phenomenal; Long Lakes is an option for sleeping as well. Upper Buck has great campsites on granite on the South side and good fishing.

The hike between Emigrant Lake and Lunch Meadow is incredible; probably the highlight of the route. Access to Granite Dome summit is close to lunch meadow; good place to camp the night before.

Like Yosemite, it has towering granite mountains and spectacular alpine lakes. It was the last few weeks of trout season, so I also wanted to bring my fly-fishing gear.

backpacking yosemite hike upper twin above lake
(Source: www.nbrhd.net)

I picked up my EmigrantWilderness permit at the Summit Ranger Station right after it opened at 8:30 am. Gaps in the trees offered occasional glimpses of granite cliffs and the views ahead.

I didn’t see any signs of fish, so I continued hiking to Buck Lakes. I found a campsite on the cliffs overlooking the lake a little ways off the trail.

My private planetarium ate dinner, watching the sunset reflect off the calm lake. The view from my campsite I woke up as the sun began to illuminate the mountains.

Late-season camping problemsAfter a warm breakfast and a large cup of coffee, I headed toward Emigrant Lake. The trail followed the edge of a large meadow on the Northside of Upper Buck Lake.

A ranger that I met on the trail the day before said that he’d heard anglers catch 25-inch trouts there. The rocky shore dropped deep into the lake and offered trout places to hide.

emigrant wilderness backpacking california beginner outings sierra sierraclub trips
(Source: content.sierraclub.org)

I rigged my Ankara rod and picked a size 16 bead head nymph with a pink hotspot. I pulled out the barbless hook, snapped a quick picture, and released it.

Every step I took on my left foot resulted in a stabbing pain near my heel. Emigrant Lake It felt like plantar fasciitis but had appeared suddenly.

I had to abandon my plan to keep hiking up North Fork Cherry Creek toward the upper Emigrant Lakes. But the path that paralleled East Fork Cherry seemed to double as a riverbed during spring.

The trail consisted of loose rocks ranging from the size of a grape to a football. In fact, I hadn’t seen a single fresh human track on the trail since Emigrant Lake.

Even so, I wanted to push a bit further, so I could walk back to my car the following day. Campsite above Wood LakeFortunately, the other end of the lake was much more suitable for camping.

wilderness emigrant backpacking beginner california outings trips bailey gillian backpack sierraclub
(Source: content.sierraclub.org)

I found a cliff overlooking the lake with a fire ring and a sheltered spot for my sleeping pad. An old run breathe last miles of the trail passed through an old burn area.

The last climb up to the trailhead offered a new landscape of volcanic rock and bright-yellow aspen. Lava rocks The weather forecast for the trip showed clear skies.

The weather station was at 7,200 ft, so I needed to prepare for 4-8 degrees colder at the elevation I would be at. In addition, I brought down pants and wool socks to stay warm in camp.

Some extra weight could be offset by not bringing a tent as there wouldn’t be any mosquitoes this late, and there was no rain forecast either. This is a gorgeous, pristine area located just north of Yosemite and offering a wide array of hiking, camping, and nature-viewing options.

From short overnight fast-packing getaways to a week-long trek with a loaded pack, the 113,000-acre EmigrantWilderness may not be as popular as Yosemite, but it is definitely worth the trip. Your journey will take you to alpine lakes, steep canyons, granite cliffs and spectacular vistas.

wilderness emigrant backpacking camping natural mara dunleavy kelly
(Source: rootsrated.com)

The Emigrant is most easily accessible from Hwy 108, with many visitors entering from the popular nearby Pine crest Lake or Kennedy Meadows. From the south, the wilderness is accessible from Cherry Lake, along the border with Yosemite National Park.

The Emigrant is most easily accessible from Hwy 108 past the town of Twain Harte with many visitors entering from near Pine crest Lake or Kennedy Meadows. From the south, the wilderness is accessible from Cherry Lake, along the border with Yosemite National Park.

Depicting The Trail South over Mosquito Pass from Summit Creek off TNT to Snow LakeandSummit Meadows Alternative Route to the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, or part of a Great EmigrantWildernessBackpacking Loop... Yet the information here is valuable for hikers putting together awesome backpacking routes and loops through the High EmigrantWilderness over into the Northwest corner of Yosemite, and maybe even taking in the PCT's swing through Tribe National Forest lands wedged in on the East side of the High Sierra Crest between EmigrantWilderness, Hoover Wilderness, and Yosemite.

This page approaches Mosquito Pass and the line of lakes and ridges to the Southeast from Kennedy Meadows Pack Station. This page gives us basic information about the route South from Mosquito Pass to the bottom of Horse Meadow, where we have two choices to intercept the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail.

This line of trail is a bit lower down the Western flank of the Sierra below and parallel with the route of the TNT. This page is set up to support those backpacking efforts, as well as exploring alternative routes across the EmigrantWilderness for Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hikers.

wilderness emigrant backpacking beginner california outings bailey gillian trips sierra backpack sierraclub
(Source: content.sierraclub.org)

It also offers alternate routes across EmigrantWilderness for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. These trails add to those already covered on the guide, which opens up a wide range of long and short backpacking loops around the high elevation section of the EmigrantWilderness and adjacent wilderness areas.

EmigrantWildernessBackpacking Features On This Page Trails and Lakes opened up backpacking South over Mosquito Pass BackpackingEmigrantWilderness Related Trail Guide Pages, Maps, Miles, and Elevations Information This page below covers the route from the Mosquito Pass trail junction along the TNT above Lunch Meadow over Mosquito Pass, past Emigrant, Blackbird and Maxwell Lake to the base of Horse Meadow.

We've hiked 9.69 miles up from Kennedy Meadows Pack Station on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. The Big Sonora Pass hiking map covers both the TNT and PCT trails coming closer together approaching Highway 108 from the North, and again as they approach their respective entrances into Yosemite from the North.

The Sonora PasstoBensen Lake backpacking map gives us a better overall view of the relationships between the TNT and PCT along the Sierra Crest South of Highway 108 through EmigrantWilderness into the North Yosemite Wilderness. Note that my maps focus on the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trail routes across (and around) the high elevation areas of EmigrantWilderness.

I have plans to add the web of trails covering the next level of trails paralleling and connecting with the TNT through here after I finish the main body of the TNT, PCT, and JET between Tahoe and Whitney... It is an easy degree of moderate difficulty trail that brings us up to Mosquito Pass.

wilderness emigrant lake camping backpacking buck upper trips natural norcal minute last go skies beneath rootsrated
(Source: rootsrated.com)

Fantastic juxtaposition of the amazing pink and gold granite hues that characterize this wonderful place. Climbing up to Mosquito Pass opens great views to the North of Relief Peak, which tops the Northern, the volcanic side of the valley we've hiked up since passing South of Relief Reservoir.

North Fork Cherry Creek feeds N shore of EMI Lake Braided streams of the North fork of Cherry Creek provide dinner for Paul and Mark.

The dudes were out here from Florida, doing the annual backpacking trips that keep these childhood buddies together. Bailey, Branden and Bobby Riley on a long backpacking trip all around EmigrantWilderness.

Talking to Bobby I found that having horse packer haul out a major resupply on mule-back runs around 340 bucks for four fully packed mules. That makes for an amazing base camp, and provides supplies for endless backpacking in the EmigrantWilderness Backcountry.

Looking South down Maxwell Lake with the great rising mass of the Sachs Monument on the Left side of the image. The trail to the Right climbs up to link up with the TNT just a bit to the South along the North edge of Summit Meadow.

wilderness emigrant backpacking sierras dad marvelous nats nic adventures
(Source: larsonsadventures.blogspot.com)

The BIG Sonora Pass and Jack Main Canyon maps below give us the best view of this fun route. Looking up Horse Meadow towards the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail running along the Sierra Crest.

Entering Summit Meadow, which means that we're now hiking South on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. We've come up the canyon above Horse Meadow along the old Tungsten Road to where it links up with the branch of the Tungsten Road South to Snow Lake and North towards Levitt Lake and Highway 108.

We could also see this Horn and Gap while backpacking South of Grizzly Peak along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. Relief Peak to Northwest Hiking up to the gap above Snow Lake to take in the view NW across High EMI Wild: Snow Lake below, Grid Meadow in foreground, EMI Meadow hidden behind middle low ridge and Relief Peak in distant Left above our route up and down Summit Creek to get here...

Relief Peak in the distance marks the location of the TNT hiking up from Kennedy Meadows, and where we came East through Mosquito Pass. Climbing to the Gap during late Spring we encounter a garden of color and form.

My calming strategy appeared to work, as the hummingbirds all came out and began socializing again, little disturbed by my happy presence. Bigelow and Black Bear Lakes are hidden by tree and terrain on the Left side of slope below us.

wilderness emigrant backpacking beginner california outings trip trips backpack sierraclub
(Source: content.sierraclub.org)

The channels of water reaching into Summit Meadow are the upper fingers of the East fork of Cherry Creek branching out as they rise higher up the Western Sierra Crest. East Cherry Creek drains Summit Meadow and the surrounding mountain flanks.

Summit Meadow is delightful to the eye during Spring, though the density of mosquitoes and flowers is roughly equal... Second, we can hike South over Bond Pass to the top of Jack Main Canyon in Yosemite.

If we backpack North on the Pacific Crest Trail from the top of Jack Main Canyon we shortly exit the Northwest corner of Yosemite into the Tribe National Forest. From here we can continue Northeast to exit on the Eastern Flank of the Sierra through the Levitt Meadow Trailhead.

We can hike North over Big Sam from Grizzly Peak to the top of Kennedy Canyon. We can hike Northwest from Grizzly Peak along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail back down to Kennedy Meadows Pack Station.

So I’m learning to look north, past Yosemite, to the quiet paths of the EmigrantWilderness for my own tract of unspoiled heaven. A four-night, 40-mile loop leads southeast from Kennedy Meadows, past Relief Reservoir, over 9,400-foot Mosquito Pass, and to Emigrant Lake (mile 16), where the combination of skyward granite, alpine pool, and rainbow trout make for the most picturesque fishing imaginable.

wilderness emigrant california sierra kept secret outings sierraclub
(Source: content.sierraclub.org)

The trail continues over the 9,800-foot Brown Bear Pass for a vantage overlooking the surrounding meadows pooling with clear water and protected by jagged Sierra peaks. Permit Free, no quota; at Stanislaus NF ranger stations Trailhead 38.267432, -119.733853; 167 miles east of Sacramento on Eagle Meadow Rd.

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1 www.techradar.com - https://www.techradar.com/how-to/how-to-watch-the-star-wars-movies-in-order
2 www.pcmag.com - https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-watch-the-star-wars-movies-in-order
3 www.polygon.com - https://www.polygon.com/2019/11/13/20959862/star-wars-watch-order-disney-plus-movies-shows-chronological-skywalker-saga
4 www.gamesradar.com - https://www.gamesradar.com/star-wars-movies-order-first-chronological/