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blueBlack Blackbird Lake Trail


2.7 mile 4.3 kilometer point to point
95% Runnable


Ascent: 428' 130 m
Descent: -62' -19 m
High: 9,448' 2,880 m
Low: 9,060' 2,762 m


Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 14% (8°)


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Trail shared by Lee Watts

Climbs wide granite-bound canyon across meadows and past two of the beautiful, but shallow, Emigrant lakes.

Lee Watts

Features 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 here because it is all above 9000 feet.


This trail is only occasionally maintained, but it is signed at both ends. I found some parts to be overgrown and hard to follow, but I had no difficulty making my way up the canyon. The trail twice crosses the North Fork of Cherry Creek. In the earlier parts of the season, these crossings can be wet and some parts of the trail are muddy. I went after the snow melt and had no problems with mud or stream crossings. There are few trees in the lower part of the canyon and none around Middle Emigrant and Emigrant Meadow lakes. Campsites are better at Blackbird Lake or beyond Emigrant Meadow Lake. The Blackbird Trail can be used as part of a long loop from Kennedy Meadows coming one direction on the Huckleberry Trail and returning via Brown Bear Pass or the Kennedy Lake Trail.

The Blackbird Trail leaves the Huckleberry Trail at a signpost immediately north of Blackbird Lake. The area is open with mixed granite and thigh-high plants. If you cannot follow the trail, just make your way up the south side of Cherry Creek. After about 0.8 miles, the trail crosses the creek and then leaves it as it climbs a gap that leads to Middle Emigrant Lake.

Middle Emigrant is quite shallow with flat meadows on the upstream side, so its size must vary considerably during the season. The steep granite cliff that comes down next to the lake is unlike the normal exfoliated domes. Much of the surface has a polished look, but when viewed from a distance it appears to be covered with deep wrinkles. The trail passes along the northwest shore and the meadows above the lake before crossing Cherry Creek to climb up a short, gentle gap that leads to Emigrant Meadow Lake.

Emigrant Meadow Lake is larger, but still shallow. Climbing even a short distance up the rocks on the south side will lead to expansive views of the surrounding area. There are large meadows on the east and north sides. Looking north, you can see a contact point between the granite ridges that characterize the Sierra to the west and the metamorphic ridges that characterize the Sierra to the east.

Halfway around the east shore is the junction with the Lunch Meadow Trail (also called the Brown Bear Pass Trail), which leads northwest towards Brown Bear Pass or southeast towards Grizzly Meadow.

Flora & Fauna

Few trees, but many colorful flowers grow here.


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