California summer trip, low crowds?

11:27 p.m. on May 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Hey there.

I'm getting back into backpacking. We're planning a summer trip (probably 4 days or so). Want to stay away from crowds, as much as possible. Definitely willing to sweat for that privelege!

Some possibilities:

Trinity Alps
Ansel Adams Wilderness (not sure where - I realize that doesn't narrow it down much)
Lassen area

Just based on (relatively) low crowds, does one of these stand out? Other recommendations? I'm leaning towards Trinity Alps, but it ain't all up to me!


12:01 p.m. on May 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Low crowds? In California wilderness? Surely you jest!

California has been a hotbed of woodsy folks for a century or more. I guess, relatively speaking, you can rely on the rule that the density of people drops as the square of the distance from the trailhead and the cube of the altitude. The Wilderness Areas (the legally designated ones) have daily entry limits and required permits, which does keep the crowding down to some extent. Trinity Alps is a beautiful area, but is still crowded (and includes some "agricultural" activity you will want to avoid). Lassen is very popular, so I would avoid it in summer (it's great for backcountry ski tours in winter, though). AA Wilderness is also popular, but has permit restrictions, which keeps the crowds down, but also means it may be too late to get a permit ahead of time. Most of the Wilderness Areas and other limit areas do hold half their daily limit for walk-ins, so you can chance it.

Basically anywhere in the Sierra is great, and the limits will keep the crowding down somewhat. You will lessen the crowds by planning on a long first day to get deeper into the backcountry. Definitely avoid the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trail (they coincide for most of the JMT section), if you want to keep the crowds down (of course you miss gorgeous country that way).

And no, I won't tell you my favorite secret uncrowded spots.

2:56 p.m. on May 23, 2007 (EDT)
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If you just grab a map and look a few hundred yards away from the trails there will be solitude. I personally don't mind seeing people when I hike but when it's time for camp I like alone time as well. There are more off trail terrain in CA (or anywhere else for that matter) than trailed.

10:49 p.m. on May 25, 2007 (EDT)
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There are a few trails on the eastern Sierra that have low numbers of permits.

If you are looking for spectacular and don't mind altitude, from either Reno or LA is Independence CA on US-395. If you don't mind the hump, Shepherds Pass to Mahogany/Anvil for first night then

anywhere along Tyndal Creek.

The PCT crosses it, but nobody goes 3 feet away from that trail usually. Get on over to S.A. Lake and maybe a peak at Harrison Pass to other side.

and then up or down the Kern staying to the trail that is west of the PCT.

You can follow the PCT over Forester Pass to Vidette Meadows and the up over Kearsarge Pass. Once you are on the PCT/JMT you will see a few more people.

Another pass that you will see few people on are Baxter, Sawmill and Taboose. But I wouldn't wish those on anybody I liked.

May 22, 2018
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