An off-trail route that leaves the Huckleberry Trail
from the west end of Huckleberry Lake. This location can be reached from either end of the Huckleberry Trail
: 18 miles from Shingle Springs (near Cherry Lake) and 20.5 miles from Kennedy Meadows. It's a little farther if you come from Leavitt Meadows.
If you get as far as Huckleberry Lake, then this side trip will add a great deal to the total adventure. The route has superb lakes, sweeping panoramas, and it crosses totally unspoiled country where you are unlikely to meet another person.
Just southwest of Huckleberry Lake, look for the easiest slopes up the eastern ridge. The climb is mostly on, or between, slabs of polished granite. It gets steep towards the top, but is never dangerous. The views are great as you approach the top. For even better views, make an easy run southwest up the ridge towards Wheeler Peak, going as far as you choose. You'll probably need to return the same way because farther up, the drop to Kendrick Creek becomes very steep.
From the original ridge crossing, climb down the smooth granite of the Kendrick Creek Canyon and climb the western side of the next ridge. As the ridge levels out, you can run closer to the stream, passing two small lakes in the canyon. Near the third long narrow lake, you'll find an easy way to climb up the far side of the canyon, from the top cut-back towards Big Island Lake. This is one of the most remote lakes in the Sierra, although is is not as difficult to reach as some others. It was much more beautiful than I expected from looking at the topo.
From Big Island, make a slight climb up the ridge to the north, along the canyon edge, to the point where there is a splendid view of Bear Lake and Haystack Peak. Descend to Bear Lake and from the far end make an easy run down through the trees to Peninsula Lake.
Another off-trail route, which leaves from the opposite side of Peninsula Lake, climbs to Upper Peninsula Lake and then makes a very steep climb to the top of a sloping plateau southeast of Haystack Peak. From there, it drops to Otter Lake and on down to the Pacific Crest Trail.
The current route heads north along Peninsula Lake and descends through the trees along the south side of the creek towards Fawn Lake. Although the descent is steep, I did not encounter any real difficulties. Fawn is a pleasant lake whose shores are part rocky and part grassy. From there, climb back up the ridge and return the way you came.