I have been to Maggie Lakes several times. It is a 9 mile hike in and out totaling 18 miles. The trail walks along the ridge line separating the Middle Fork of the Tule River and the Little Kern River drainages. Several spots along the Summit Trail have vista points letting one eye wonder further east into the Sierra Nevada mountains or peer down into San Joaquin Valley below.
The trek in was designed as one of the pre-High Sierra Trail (pre-HST) test trips. People going could find out their physical endurance, test out gear, and make some adjustments for the next pre-HST trip and ultimately, the long High Sierra Trail trek in August. Those attending the trip all came from different parts of the state. One individual drove up to 4 hours to make it!
Full photo album -> HERE
Day 1 – Saturday June 2nd
I awoke at 515 AM. Excited, packed, and dressed for the outdoors I soon left at 545 AM to pick up Jeremiah. The plan was to meet at Denny’s at 615 AM, enjoy a large breakfast, meet at my house at 7 AM, and drive up to the trail head. Seth and Brian showed up a little bit later at Denny’s that morning. Introductions were made, stories were shared, and the excitement of the trip continued to mount.
Back at my house around 7 AM, we loaded up the vehicles with gear, grabbed some last-minute items from the house, and made our way up the mountain. I stopped by the office to grab the fire and wilderness permits. We then drove up to the trailhead taking highway 190 east then a Forest Service road called the “North Road.” It was a nice drive and the air was cool. Perfect for putting on a pack and hiking into the wilderness!
There was a tree down about a mile south of the trailhead. We had to drive up the embankment a bit to avoid both pieces. It must have just recently dropped too. Another tree was down about 500 feet from the trailhead. We parked off to the side of the road and prepared for our 9 mile hike. We hit the trail around 1030 AM.
Noon came and it was time to break for lunch. We made a quick stop at the Alder Creek Vista point and enjoyed our first 360 degree panorama view just a few minutes prior. Lunch involved bringing out the stove, heating some water, and enjoying a rehydrated meal. We took about a 30 minute break there and continued on our way up the trail.
Snow drifts were along portions of the trail. Making our way through we had to follow sawed off logs to indicate where the trail was at times. Looking in some of the old trees we could find blaze marks too helping us keep our barring. Several meadows came into view like Jacobsen, Mowery, and Alpine Meadows. Griswold Meadow was near the end of our long uphill climb.
At the 7.5 mile marker, we had made it to 9600 feet. A view of Peck’s Canyon and the watershed containing Maggie, Frog, and Twin Lakes was beautiful. We snapped a group photo and enjoyed the view. It was a long climb up from Mowery (4.5 miles) to the 7.5 mile marker. Now it was time to head downhill for a half a mile and do a slight up and down climb to Maggie Lakes.
We arrived at Maggie Lakes around 530 PM. Everyone was happy to see it and be at camp. We quickly picked a spot and started getting out our gear. I went straight to getting dinner ready, which again was boiling water and rehydrating food. Brian went around the lake to see if he could catch any fish. Jeremiah waited for water to reheat too and Seth pulled out his stove and started making his meal shortly after.
After dinner was done we collected firewood. Brian did catch a couple of fish, but they were too small so he released them back into the lake. We got the fire going, but it was a little difficult. The wood and pine needles were moist, so it took some time to heat things up. When the fire was going, we all gathered around and started sharing stories. Another group photo was taken too.
It was a full moon that night so Brian and I went over to the lake to snap a few photos. The “point and shoot” camera I had did a decent job. I wanted my other camera though and plan to bring it on the next trip for sure. We returned to the campfire and shared stories till we all went to bed.
Day 2 – Sunday June 3rd
I woke up, as usual, before anyone else at 6AM. I wish I could sleep longer, but when it is light out I am awake and ready to go. I took a few photos of Maggie Lakes and started the fire. It wasn’t long before Jeremiah woke up and then Brian and Seth a bit later. Breakfast was oatmeal for most of the group. Jeremiah had a meal that contained peppers and eggs. Man did it smell and taste good too.
After breakfast we casually put things away and broke down camp. Nobody really wanted to leave such a beautiful place. Around 1030 AM we said goodbye to Brian as he was continuing on for several days. Seth, Jeremiah and I made our way back down the trail. However, we snapped a group photo of us at the lake before departing!
We made good time trekking along the trail. Most of it being downhill helped with the pace and people were talking more. I think as a group we were able to enjoy the surroundings a lot better going downhill. Plus we were getting acclimated to the high elevations.
We arrived at Mowery Meadow around 1230 PM and had lunch. There was a small camping area just down another trial called “Mountaineer Trail.” It had a table and a nice fallen tree to sit on. Seth and I cook our lunches while Jeremiah snacked. We relaxed there for an hour before embarking on the last 4.5 miles of trail.
Leaving Mowery we enjoyed another group shot just south of Mowery Meadow. We arrived at Jacobsen and could see the George Fire had apparently grown in size. A large plume was billowing up into the sky. When we arrived at Alder Creek Vista point you could really see the smoke building.
We took a relaxed stroll down to South Mountaineer Creek. Once there we took a 5 minute break, I refilled my water bottle, and hydrated up some more. We had 0.5 miles to go and we were back at the truck. The group trekked along and made it to the top in 20 minutes! We talked about burgers and milkshakes in Springville, so I think that was motivation to get that last half mile done quickly :).
Before leaving we took a few more pictures by the Golden Trout Wilderness sign. We had done it! We hiked 18 miles in two days. Everyone learned something about their gear, themselves, and each other. It was a great time and we all look forward to the next pre-HST trip.