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High altitude day hikes in California.
April 18, 2011 3:21 PM   Subscribe

High altitude day hikes in California.

I'm looking for a few relatively flat (~1000' height gain) day hikes over 10000 feet somewhere in the Western U.S. California would be ideal.

So far the best I've been able to find is Telluride, with the town at 8750' and a fair number of nearby hiking trails of varying difficulty.

Bonuses would be:

1) A nearby hotel > 8000'.
2) Far away from any major light pollution.

The important criteria is that the hikes be relatively easy. These are test hikes before dealing with more difficult hikes at higher altitudes.
posted by Tell Me No Lies to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Telluride is in colorado.

California is a very big state, you have to narrow it down a little. Where in california.

Currently there is really too much snow in the sierras to get too high anyway, and this will be the case for a couple of months. It has been a HUGE snow season.
posted by TheBones at 3:52 PM on April 18, 2011


I use the Horseshoe Meadows campground to acclimate for climbing in the Whitney area. The campground is ~10,000 and you can day hike in the vicinity. Plenty of motels in nearby Lone Pine at ~4000'. (I like the Dow Villa).

Onion Valley is another eastern sierra high altitude campground accessible by car.
posted by Manjusri at 3:55 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


California is a very big state, you have to narrow it down a little. Where in california.

The altitude requirements narrow down your choices considerably. I believe that's the framework within which to work.

Mammoth Lakes is at or pretty close to 8K feet, and has a number of trails nearby, but asking for a 10K plus flat trail is... a bit difficult. Things get pretty lumpy when you get that high up, and there are a lot more options down around 8K. From Mammoth, you could hop over into Devil's Postpile and hike around the valley there, but that's only at about 8K. Going up to the actual Mammoth Lakes (not just the town), you can start at Lake Mary and hike up the valley towards Duck Pass. Stopping at the last lake in the valley will get you a little over 1000' elevation gain, starting at just over 9000'.

I don't know if you'd call Tuolumne Meadows Lodge a "hotel" (it's tent cabins), but it's at almost 9000', and you can hike waaaaay back into Lyell Canyon and hardly pick up any elevation at all. Hiking out to Glen Aulin Camp would have a bit of a drop at the end, but not too bad for a 10+ mile round trip.
posted by LionIndex at 4:18 PM on April 18, 2011


The "back side" of the Sierra -- e.g. Bishop to the top of Mt Whitney -- is around 10,000'.
posted by phliar at 4:42 PM on April 18, 2011


Oops, sorry, I misread your question, you don't want 10K gain in one hike.

Maybe Dusy Basin, above Bishop... it's "mostly" flat, at around 10K, and there are lots of hikes that climb up to the Sierra crest, which is around 12K. But you have to hike up to it from South Lake above Bishop. Or from Kings Canyon NP and over Bishop Pass.

In the Sierra, you won't find any hotels above 8K.
posted by phliar at 4:50 PM on April 18, 2011


Telluride is in colorado.

California is a very big state, you have to narrow it down a little. Where in california.


Anywhere in the Western United States is okay. Someplace closer than Telluride is what I'm looking for.

Currently there is really too much snow in the sierras to get too high anyway

Very good point. I should have mentioned that I'm thinking the end of July.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:50 PM on April 18, 2011


In the Sierra, you won't find any hotels above 8K.

Mammoth. Gmaps puts a place I stayed, right at the base of the Canyon Lift, but still in town, at 8250. And there's a lot of other places around there. Then Mammoth Lodge itself, up at the ski area is around 9000. Other than that, you're right and there's not much around. June Lakes might be the next closest in height at around 7500.
posted by LionIndex at 5:27 PM on April 18, 2011


Kevin's Hiking Page is an excellent resource for California hiking. Specifically, take a look at the Other Sierra Hikes section. Kevin offers trail reports that include distance, time, elevation, gain, photos, conditions, and ratings.
posted by netbros at 5:36 PM on April 18, 2011


Not many people use the Inyo Crest Trail, astounding views of the surrounding desert.
posted by hortense at 6:36 PM on April 18, 2011


I'm not sure it quite satisfies your criterion, but in my memory, the hike past the high altitude research station is fairly gentle, and high.
posted by lab.beetle at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2011


Mammoth appears to fit the bill here. Thanks everyone!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:38 AM on April 20, 2011


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