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Huckleberry Trail

Intermediate

Trail

20.0 mile 32.1 kilometer point to point
91% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 3,597' 1,096 m
Descent: -2,049' -625 m
High: 9,359' 2,852 m
Low: 6,321' 1,927 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 34% (19°)

Dogs

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Trail shared by Lee Watts

This long trail starts up the roaring Summit Creek to reach flowery meadows and superb high mountain lakes.

Lee Watts

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Wilderness permits are required, but they are easily obtained at any Stanislaus Forest ranger station. Campfires are not allowed above 9000 feet, but most of the trail is below that.

Description

The first part of the Huckleberry Trail is very popular, but most runners branch off for a loop involving Brown Bear Pass and the Kennedy Lake Trail or to fish at the Relief Reservoir. Those who go on to Emigrant or Huckleberry lakes usually have the aid of horses and mules from the very active Kennedy Stables. I did the Huckleberry Trail to Huckleberry Lake and then looped back via Letora and Buck lakes, and Relief Valley. It is also possible to run the 40+ miles between Kennedy Meadows and the Kibbie Ridge Trail near Cherry Lake, but this requires a very long car shuttle.

Free parking for overnight runners is located about 0.4 miles before the Kennedy Meadows store. The store sells permits for overnight parking in their lot.

For the first 1.5 miles, the trail runs next to summit creek, which was roaring even at the end of August 2017. Two high bridges over the creek would permit seeing this extraordinary sight in full spring flood. The trail climbs steeply past the Kennedy Lake junction to an overlook above Relief Reservoir. It descends about 200 feet and then begins a long moderately steep climb all the way to Sheep Camp, which has great camp sites.

From there, the trail is much easier. It climbs only gradually as it passes Lunch Meadows, a long alpine meadow filled with flowers of all different colors. It climbs easily to Mosquito Pass and drops to Emigrant Lake—a long, beautiful lake. Emigrant appears to have only one campsite on the eastern end and none in the middle. The very scenic western end has campsites, but they are well over a mile from the Huckleberry Trail.

From Emigrant Lake, the trail makes a short climb to the shallow Blackbird Lake, and then drops to Maxwell Lake, a series of almost connected lakes with alternating rocks, trees, and grass, behind the towering Sachse Monument. The lakes are beautiful, but narrow and swampy with lots of mosquitoes.

The trail then makes a short climb and then drops down to the East Fork of Cherry Creek at the junction with the Horse Meadows Trail. The trail makes a rocky descent down an old mining road, following the creek past the junction to Twin Lakes and some remnants of old tungsten mines. About a mile from Huckleberry Lake, the trail has been re-routed to cross the East Fork and climb up and down among the rocks well above the creek. The old trail is now overgrown, eroded and nearly impassible. Huckleberry is superb. Most campsites are off the Letora Trail, but there are good sites in the south center next to the lake.

Flora & Fauna

This long trail with varied elevations has a wide variety of conifers, flowers over every color and deciduous trees in the lower elevations

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#9083

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#962

in California

#9,083

Overall
13 Views Last Month
1,500 Since Sep 14, 2015
Intermediate

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Photos

Looking up Horse Meadows from near junction with Huckleberry Trail with Grizzly Peak in the center background
Sep 19, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Emigrant Lake is a beautiful sight from the Huckleberry Trail.
Apr 17, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Blackbird Lake is beautiful, but shallow.
Apr 17, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Below Huckleberry Trail, Kennedy Creek joins the river.
Aug 30, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Bridge over Middle Fork Stanislaus River. Water level still high late August 2017
Aug 30, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Entrance to Lunch Meadows which is filled with colorful flowers. Notice the divide between metamorphic rock on the left and in the background and granite on the right
Aug 31, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA

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