Central California

Barker Pass to Sierra City

July 1st, 2012

A very important piece of info about this section – At around 1148 on Halfmile’s maps one summits an ascent to reach Tinker Knob. At the top of the ascent is a signed junction. If coming from the south, the apparent correct direction of travel is down the other side towards Truckee. DO NOT GO THIS WAY!! Go left to reach Anderson’s Peak (if hiking from the South). The signage is confusing and the direction of travel appears to be to go down (I was not the only one to make this mistake). If you go down you will be very much off-trail!

Jackson Meadows to HWY 49

June 3rd, 2012

While overall not bad, there are a few sections that could use some TLC, especially the southern and mid portion. By the end of the trip I was almost wishing I had left my tent behind and taken a chain saw. Numerous fallen trees along the way, with half a dozen or so near the crest (SW of the switchbacks above milton creek). Switchbacks are fair, but a 20 foot section is now dirt and starting to wash out. Lots of the typical early season debris on the trail. Could use some trail markers on the Jackson Meadows side.

Three possible campsites to consider. Best is at the second (furthest south) bridge over Milton Creek. Small fire-ring, space for perhaps 2 tents and sitting log and rock next to the creek. A few hundred yards north up the trail is a alternative, what it lacks in access to water might be made up with less creek noise. It’s a bare bones place for a tent. At the top of the switchbacks SW of the creek is another area, but lots of bugs and little appeal.

July 18, 2011

Like the previous poster, I planned to hike from Bucks Lake to Belden. However, after 4.5 miles lost the trail in deep snow. Tried following tree markers, but after losing them once too often decided to call it a day. With GPS it’s slow, but passable.

July 1, 2011

June 28 to July 1, 2011 -Trail out of Echo Lake is clear for 2 hours of hiking – lulls you into a sense of exuberance, then you hit the snow, big time. Desolation Wilderness is snowed in, min 2-3 feet with drifts up to 15 feet. Sign at Barker Pass barely visible in 6 feet of snow. GPS with halfmile’s data extremely useful. Microspikes also useful, especially in the am. Some areas where the trail is covered, an ice axe would be useful (we didn’t carry one). We bailed at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort and got a ride to a friends home in Squaw Valley. Going was slow, 1-2 mph. Got off trail more than once, even with GPS. Miller Creek and the one following were challenging, mostly to find a safe crossing point. If you go in here, be prepared, take extra food, unless your name is Malto. Jack and the Kiwis

June 28, 2011

Photos are on facebook:


We began our hike on the Rubicon-McKinney OHV trail on June 19th. We stayed at Ludlow Hut on Lake Richardson. All of Miller Meadows was really part of Miller Lake. It was a very wet crossing.

When we joined up with the PCT on 6/20 at Lake Richardson, we only caught the trail by the lake and then had to snowshoe on what we thought was close to the trail. We headed for Phipps creek and never found the trail. We were picking our way through trees and over snow bridges. It was about a 10 hour day.

On 6/21 we had a gorgeous walk to Middle Velma and Lake Fontinillas. We were still on snowshoes, which made the terrain easier to manage, though our friend in boots was fine so far. We were able to catch the snow-covered trail, which made the day go very smoothly. We camped up at the intersection of the PCT/Emerald Bay Trail/Bayview Trail. It was nice and clear of snow up there.

We got an extremely early start on 6/22 up to Dick’s Pass in order to not be walking up a slushy mountain. As it was, we were cutting in steps and using ice axes for the full 2 hour walk to the peak. It was worth it to go slow-much more safe, especially for somebody like me who has never done any mountaineering before. When we crossed over Dick’s Pass, we made the mistake of not glissading down to the lakes. 2 out of 3 people in our group had never glissaded, so we tried to follow the trail. Big mistake-it was bad terrain and ended up being a 12 hour day picking our way through bushes and fallen rock. We finally hit the trail though, when we got to camp at Suzie Lake.

On 6/23, we left Suzie Lake and did a rough stream crossing. Actually, it was more of a waterfall crossing. We scooted on our bottoms across a fallen log, which was the best option. We had a great day hiking past Heather Lake,on part of the trail and then across part of frozen Aloha Lake and we were doing so well that we bypassed Tamarack and landed at Lower Echo for the night. This was the only time that we had trail for most of day, which is why we made good time.

We hiked out on 6/24 to HWY 50. The trail was clear except for all of the snow-melt. We fondly referred to the PCT as the PCTriver during the whole trip as all of the tiny segments we saw were creeks under snow-bridges.

Overall, the trip was filled with melting snow, which were fast moving creeks, under snow-bridges. The snowshoes were helpful, especially when the sun-spots got so big that my friend in the boots was slipping around in them.