Great hike. We camped at Alpine Lake Trailhead (since we couldn't cross the Stuart Fork) and did a long (17-mile) out and back day-hike. Met a few people who stayed at Morris Meadow and did the day-hike from there.
Great hike through pretty forest, lots of great views, especially of the Sawtooth Ridge. This time of year was great since the new green leaves were so vibrant. Later in the season, I can imagine the willow bushes the last 4 miles being a bear to get through. And, this year, the lakes were not frozen as they had been in previous years in early May (thanks to global climate change undoubtedly).
Also, be sure to bring a bear canister since we saw a bear (and my dog chased it) and lots of scat, especially in the meadow.
NOTE: This is a 14+ mile EACH way hike to Emerald Lake (+ more to Sapphire Lake) from the parking lot. Unless you want to do a marathon in one day, I'd suggest an overnight.
We went the first weekend of May 2018. Still lots of melting snow, so the Stuart Fork was not crossable to get to this lake. However, we did a fabulous, long day-hike to Emerald Lake and back to the Alpine Lake crossing trailhead.
TIP: Mileage markers on the directions are not included, and your map program may not be reliable through the mountains. Be sure to know where you are going first.
TIP: Although parking passes are not required, stop at the forest service station to obtain required overnight wilderness permits (self-service kiosk) is in Weaverville, past the Lewiston turnoff and head for Weaverville, which takes you about 15 miles out of your way.
We went the first weekend of May 2018.
Great to go in the spring, around March, to see the wildflowers. Last visit I saw 7 California condors flying about. They are very graceful and glide very smoothly when viewed through binoculars.
On another trip, it was moonless, and the stars were plentiful. Apparently, this is the best stargazing south of the SF Bay Area, but still driving distance (about 1 hours south of San Jose). I saw many meteors and thoroughly enjoyed the winter-time view of the dark sky.
Amazing area to explore. As the description indicates, the severity of changes is mind blowing. Forest to huge dunes, then to a small forest to a tunnel to dunes & finally the ocean. Truly a treat. Be sure to pose in one of the "sand traps" if you are a golfer. Make a "sand angel" (mine looked like a lobster). Highly recommend this treat, especially after visiting Redwoods National Park.
NOTE: A day pass is required. The America the Beautiful pass works. Don't get a ticket.
NOTE: Sadly, dogs are not allowed.
Amazing area to explore. As the description indicates, the severity of changes is mind blowing.
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