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Trail Conditions: Kennedy Meadows to Ashland & Beyond - With Updates

Posted on June 19 2017

The snow is melting FAST! What does this mean for your hike? Where is a good place to hike? Here's some info that will hopefully help you and your group determine your path. 

SNOW STATS (Scott Parker's posting on Facebook):

  • Kennedy Meadows to Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) – 159 miles - 28% is covered in snow
  • MTR to Tuolumne Meadows – 88 miles – 61% is still snow covered
  • Tuolumne Meadows to Echo Lake/South Lake Tahoe – 150 miles – 80% is still snow covered.
  • Echo Lake to Sierra City – 103 miles – 63% is still snow covered
  • Sierra City to Belden – 91 miles – 29% is still snow covered



~ Kennedy Meadows to Lone Pine – No snow on trail

~ Lone Pine to Kearsarge Pass – The peak snowmelt has passed and water levels are dropping. Last week it was reported:

  • Rock Creek – 3 log crossing over slow moving water near the ranger station
  • Mt Whitney – Plenty of suncups near Guitar Lake. Switchbacks are clearing but traction is still recommended on this route due to several icy sections. Go early to avoid softer snow later in the day which could be hazardous.
  • Wallace Creek – No more snow banks and water less than knee deep
  • Wright Creek – Go upstream ~1/3 of a mile or downstream about a half mile; there are log crossings at both places. Much safer here than at trail crossing.
  • Tyndall Creek – snow bridges are melting, don’t cross them! Walk upstream as the flow is less and there are shallow crossings. Lots of small feeder creeks to cross but they are low flowing.
  • Forester Pass – ice axe and crampons are still recommended. The trail is still icy early in the morning when you need to cross. Later in the day is hazardous with lots of postholing.
  • Bubb’s Creek – head upstream. There’s a log you might be able to cross depending on water levels but the further upstream you walk the easier the crossing gets.
  • Kearsarge Pass - Onion Valley Road (ie. the road that takes you to Independence) is currently CLOSED as of 6/20 due to potential road washout. The road closure is 5 miles from the trailhead. 

~ Keasarge Pass to Mammoth Lakes - Vermillion Valley Resort is OPEN! Very little information about this section of trail. I had hikers come back after going over Glen Pass a few days ago and tell me that crampons and ice axe are still absolutely essential. They retreated from Rae Lakes. The recent snow storm had covered all previous tracks and they didn't feel safe on the pass. The best information for this section is OLD. If you've recently hiked through here and are reading this, please send me an update.

Hikers have exited Bishop Pass Trail to regroup in Bishop. This is before Evolution Creek, Bear Creek, and Mono Creek. Crampons and ice axe are essential for Bishop Pass.

The best information for this section is from Beta. John Colver via Cris Chater gives an alternate around the most dangerous section, "An alternate route to avoid Bear Creek from Bishop Pass north, or an entrance from the west (Florence Lake or Edison Lake) would be: 

  1. From Muir Trail Ranch take Florence Lake Trail to Florence Lake Resort – 9 miles (or 4.5 miles once Ferry is operating).
  2. Road walk north (or hitch) 13 miles to Thomas Edison Lake
  3. Take Goodale Pass Trail to rejoin JMT/PCT at 10545 elevation 1 mile north of Silver Pass.

Regardless of how you get to VVR, Goodale Pass is still recommended over Silver Pass. It's a much safer option. 

Red's Meadow is still not open, nor is the road leading to Red's Meadow. Hikers should exit via Mammoth Pass (Mile 904)

UPDATE 6/20: Bear Creek at times is running knee at/below the knees! Mono Creek has been crossed using downed logs not at trail crossing. Search the bank and you'll likely find some place safe to cross!

~ Tuolumne to Sonora Pass - Tuolumne Meadows Post Office is NOT open; neither is the road where the trail crosses. However, the road to Tioga Pass is open. It's a 6-mile hike to Tioga Pass where the road is open all the way down to Lee Vining. Lee Vining has a small market where you can resupply and a campground that is PCT Hiker friendly.

To get the scoop on this section you should visit Daniel “Beta” Winsor's website. He has a ton of GREAT information with videos of every river crossing. Thanks Beta!!! He has several really good recommendations on safety of this section and the Sierra in general on the Facebook group

Several hikers have made it safely through this section BUT exercise caution and be prepared! Read everything from the 2 links above! 

UPDATE 6/20: John AK post here with details of all his creek crossings from Mammoth to Sonora Pass. Definitely some good information here!

~ Sonora Pass to Echo Lake/South Lake Tahoe - Not much data to report here. The trail is mostly covered in snow still. 

~ Echo Lake to Sierra City - Lots of snow still. Lots of post holing. A section hiker reported very few is any visible prints from Big Meadow to Echo Summit along the Tahoe Rim Trail. However he did say there was a snow bridge over Little Truckee River. I'm not sure how long this and other snow bridges will last. This section is still very much in the midst of the melt off and creeks will likely be rising here with the heatwave.  

~ Sierra City to Belden - Few new reports here. Last reports were still a lot of snow and sketchy traverses but that's been over 10 days now. If you've hiked this section in the last week, please send me a report. 

UPDATE 6/20: Hiker reported this as passable but said microspikes were needed and ice axes were recommended. This is still "old data" so conditions should have improved. How much, I'm not sure. 

~ Belden to Chester – According to hikers, there’s still a lot of snow near Lassen. Several hikers have reported taking 7 hours to cross the 8 miles of snow. No ice axe needed. Microspikes are used by some but are not seen as essential. Still a lot of postholing here but the snow is melting very fast! 

Chester north to Dunsmuir – This is NOT clear of snow as previously reported. I've gotten conflicting reports. There's definitely snow from ~ Mile 1444-1447. Some mountaineers reported this as an extremely sketchy traverse that was slow and required ice axe and crampon. Another hiker reported "It was fine to pass through but just slowed us down...We needed a GPS. It was on a steep traverse so the footpath was above the ridge. about the degree of snow. It's hot up here, very hot this week like most places. Temps reaching 100 deg. Rattlesnakes are abundant. There is a walk around on a forest road to bypass the snowy section; there are many blowdowns but it's passable for sure. 

~ Dunsmuir to Etna – In general, hikers are NOT going through here. There's been a single hiker I'm aware of who went through and said it was doable, VERY SLOW, GPS required, but they weren't recommending at this time. 

~ Etna to Ashland – Still lots of snow! Hikers are bailing through here. Some have made it southbound from Ashland but many who start NOBO or SOBO bail after a couple of days. 

~ Ashland north - The hikers I've known that reached Ashland are all off hiking the Oregon Coast Trail or have gone home to wait out the snow. Oregon is still very much covered by snow. Crater Lake still has 10+ feet of snow and isn't recommended. 

UPDATE 6/20: Hiking to Crate Lake National Park is doable, BUT near the rim there is still 10+ feet of snow and there's water everywhere. Hiking to the rim isn't recommended just yet. 

As always, if you have updates please send them to me so I can update others. I'm going to try and keep this updated for the next few days as I get more reports from the trail. I'm getting calls from hikers with plenty of questions and all information is helpful! You can contact us via:

A huge thank you to those of you contacting me and for those of you posting updates on social media. Some of my sources include: Josh Bradshaw, Scott Parks, Clint Tokash, Terry Berezan, By Land, Amelia “Picnic” Pease, John Ladd, John Colver, Dinah Jacobs, Daniel Winsor, John AK, Sahar Laros, Nutterbutter.


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