Hiking California's Golden Trout Wilderness
by Suzanne Swedo (Falcon Guides)
© Suzanne Swedo/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Coyote Lakes, how to describe it? This is my favorite backpacking destination for a weeklong trip. I first backpacked into Coyote Lakes in August 1989 with a group of scouts from Bakersfield. We began at Jerkey Meadow trailhead south of the lakes and hiked 18 miles in over the “Moonwalk”, a part of the trail about a mile from the lakes that reminds me of a lunar landscape. I have since hiked in several times 14 miles from the Click’s Creek trailhead up and over the Hunters trail, a three mile, 3,000 foot climb that tops out at 10,500 feet before dropping down into the Coyote Lakes basin at 10,000 feet. The lakes are also accessible from Sequoia National Park to the north.
The area sees little traffic due in part to the fact that there is only one way in and out. In all my trips there I have only seen five other individuals other than my party. The fishing is rewarding, with the big lake producing 14-18” trout grudgingly while the smaller lake gives up 8-10” trout on almost every cast. The water is suitable for swimming with diving available from rocks on the south side of the lake.
There are several areas with fire rings both in the trees on the south and along the shore on the west side of the big lake. The outlet is from the east side of the small lake and drops steeply down to Kern Lake 3,000 feet below. I have found small pockets of snow on the sheltered areas of the lake as late as mid August. Expect Sierra thundershowers anytime.
For the adventurous there is bouldering on the southwest side of the lake up to the top of the basin, day hikes into Sequoia Park or south along the ridge. We have used ropes and built rafts from the fallen logs that accumulate at the southeast corner of the lake.
I have packed into these lakes for 30 + years on horse back and it is the most captivating ride I've ever been on. I have taken my boys and they love it as well. The fishing is phenominal and the vistas from the summit are breath taking. I woud recommend this trip to any body who has a little time and good horses.
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