Hike America: Northern California
by Dan Brett (The Globe Pequot Press)
© Dan Brett/The Globe Pequot Press. All Rights Reserved.
Great trip into Emerald and Sapphire Lakes, trail is in decent shape, snow is gone, and the Trinities are in full bloom. Lots of great views with cascading water surrounding the lakes! Absolutely beautiful!!
Did this trail as a 2-night trip and it was perfect. Started off at the Stuart's Fork trailhead around 2pm on friday. Hiked about 10 miles to Morris Meadow and just barely beat the sunset with enough time to setup camp. The meadow is fine for a sleep over on your way to the lakes but keep it at that. Knocked out the 6 miles to Emerald lake the next morning which was a gorgeous hike. Got lucky and grabbed the best campsite at the lake which is off to the right and about 15% the way up the trail to saphire lake. There was only 2 other people camping up there and probably only saw another 3 passing by. Very private. Sucked up the entire 16 miles on the way out Sunday but worth it to stay lakeside on the second night.
This was one of the best weekend trips imaginable. Weather was perfect, barely any people, no bugs, allows dogs, no bears or snakes, always near water, gorgeous rivers/lakes/peaks all in fall colors. I would absolutely recommend this as a 2-night trip just as long as you can handle the 16 miles out (its mostly downhill).
Took Stuart Fork to the camp site past the meadows, took us about 5 hours in the 100 degree heat. Plenty of water available and the trail was a slow steady gradual up. Went to Emerald lake as a day trip, not too many fish to catch unfortunately but great swimming hole! This was a beautiful spot though the heat and the number of rattlesnakes made it less than perfect. We spotted 9 in one day! Very few people so that was a bonus! Deer everywhere, even a buck on the trail. Saw one big bear. would love to go again at another time of year.
This was one of the coolest trails I have backpacked on - there was so much variety of terrain, from wooded forest with raging streams, vast meadows, to sawtooth ridge-like granite-encased trails and lakes. We did it there and back in 2 days, and at around 30miles round-trip I would recommend turning that into a 3 or 4 day trip instead.
The trail to the lakes is extremely well graded and easy. Absolutely anybody could do it, whick explains the throng of hikers making their way up. The lakes are beautiful, but not so grand as others I've been to, particularly in the Sierras. The hike to Caribou Lake makes a nice sidetrip, and a good workout, as you climb about 2500 feet in 2 miles. If you're looking for an exciting backpack trip, this is not the one for you. If you're looking for a mellow 3-day weekend, this is the ticket.
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