“Mostly off-trail route visits all 3 Wire Lakes and Spring Meadow Creek and lakes. Good fishing and some great campsites.”
— Lee Watts
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 9,000 feet, but this area is below that. Dogs are supposed to be on leash.
Ben Schifrin in his 1980 book, Emigrant Wilderness and Northwestern Yosemite, says that Lower Wire Lake is his favorite sub-alpine camp in the western Emigrant Basin. There are also good campsites and fishing at Upper Wire Lake.
Spring Meadow Lake is truly beautiful with the blue water contrasting with the green grass of the meadow and with views north all the way to Granite Dome. As I passed, there were two groups camping and fishing around Spring Meadow's lakes and streams. I suspect that they got here with the aid of horses and mules from the stables in the Pine Valley/Crabtree area.
From Upper Wire Lake and the Wire Lake Trail, follow the small outlet stream down past two small ponds. Pass around the southern edge of middle Wire Lake (called Banana Lake by Schifrin). There are no good campsites at this lake. Around the middle of the lake, run over the rocks and on south to Lower Wire Lake, the most beautiful of the three.
Although I made my way between the ponds on the western shore of the lake, the great campsites are on the eastern and southern shores. Schifrin describes excellent panoramas obtained by climbing about 300 feet up the dome south of the lake, and he describes a route from there down the southeastern slopes to meet the Crabtree Trail between Jewelry and Deer lakes.
Our route heads north to cross the outlet from middle Wire Lake a little below the lake. It was clear that others also crossed here. The route continues north through a low gap and descends to pass on the eastern side of the ponds on Spring Creek. There is great camping and fishing here. If you want to cross Spring Creek, do it here, because you cannot run around the southern shore of Spring Meadow Lake. I continued climbing about 50 feet up the rocks for a view across Spring Meadow's largest lake and meadows and then edged around the eastern edge of the meadow to meet the Relief Valley Trail
Flora & Fauna
Mixed conifer forest with open grassy meadows.