An invigorating and demanding hike. My sons (12 and 15), wife and I went from the Atwell campground up to Hockett Meadows, then onto Hockett Lakes. This trail is almost entirely uphill for the 2,500 foot elevation gain over 10 miles. It is hard! And there are no campsites until you reach mile 9. The reward of meadows, filled with an array of delicate flowers and deer walking within feet of you as you hike, is pretty luxurious. And the Hockett Lake (2.5 miles further) we base-camped beside was paradise. During four days in the woods, we only encountered 4 other people, all within the first 20 minutes of hiking. It is a great wilderness experience and shows the full flora and fauna of the Western Sierras.
But... because of terrible advice from a ranger who said it was an easy 5 hour climb to the meadows from the campground, we had to bivouac off-trail the first night as we lost light. I suggest 8 hours to climb to the meadows, which will allow stops and a comfortable lunch on the way.
Also a number of streams we crossed in mid-August must be raging rivers earlier in the season. Be prepared for some challenging water if hiking this trail earlier in the year.
I would not do this hike again, only because there is no halfway point to camp. We began too late the first day, but if anyone needed to stop – for whatever reason – you really cannot do it easily along this trail.