Hockett Trail Notes: Devils Ladder and Coyote Pass

Taking a moment to process some minutia of Hockett Trail history …

This early account of the rerouting of a short segment of the Hockett Trail appears to corroborate my understanding that the Hockett Trail followed the same route that Horseshoe Meadows Road follows today, only with shorter switchbacks:

From Round Valley down to where it leaves the Little Cottonwood the old Hockett Trail is almost untraveled. The shorter route now in use leaves the valley at the lower end, drops over the Big Cottonwood, descends this past an old sawmill, and crosses to the Little Cottonwood, which it reaches about fifty yards below where it rejoins the old trail, at the foot of the Devil’s Ladder.

E. B. C., Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. III., No. 2, May 1990

For anyone who’s driven Horseshoe Meadows Road, names like “Devil’s Ladder” should come as no surprise. I’m guessing that this Devil’s Ladder is the name that was given to the eastbound ascent out of the Cottonwood Creek watershed to what is now called “Walt’s Point”, atop the grand descent down “Hockett Hill.”

The following demonstrates that, contrary to what appears to be a common understanding, the Hockett Trail did not cross the Great Western Divide at Coyote Pass:

Another trail in recent use is between Mineral King and the Big Kern, via Coyote (or Quinn’s ) Pass. I think they are the same. From the east it starts at the soda spring and keeps north of Coyote Creek up to the meadows. From the west it leaves the Hockett Trail, perhaps two miles south of Farewell Gap, and is indicated by a signboard—”Poison Meadow Trail.” According to the signs, the “Hockett Trail” leads to Mineral King, and the trail to Hockett Meadows is the “Hockett Meadow Trail.”

E. B. C., Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. III., No. 2, May 1990

A Hockett Trail Guide: 11. Hockett Hill

Welcome to LA. No, there’s not a big green road sign announcing “Los Angeles City Limit” at Trail Pass, but maybe if there were it would not be entirely inaccurate. It is, after all, the City of Los Angeles that runs this place. It’s their water, and their power.

The Hockett Trail proceeded from Trail Pass—or possibly Mulkey Pass—down to Cottonwood Creek, then followed the approximate path of present-day Horseshoe Meadows Road, perhaps running a bit higher around Wonoga Peak to avoid some heinous cliffs.

Walt's Point
Horseshoe Meadows Road (completed 1967) at Walts Point.

Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side indicates that before 1967 the only trail down from Horseshoe Meadows went down Cottonwood Creek all the way to Owens Valley, but that is clearly not the case. It is a well-known fact that the Hockett Trail began at Carroll Creek, where there was once a busy pack station, shown on this map from the Inyo Independent:

Old routes to Mount Whitney

Carroll Creek is now the site of De La Cour Ranch, where cabins and tent cabins can be rented at the foot of Hockett Hill.

After leaving the plains below Lone Pine this trail rapidly climbs the dreaded Hockett Hill. All travelers try so to arrange their journey that this hill is climbed either in early morning or late in the afternoon. The real hill begins where the desert sloping up from Owens Lake meets the main mountain wall. Here a stream from the snow higher up has made a feeble growth of shrubby trees which mark the last shade and water for a long- time… The view from the trail, however, is magnificent… And just as the pines begin to come in more and an occasional patch of snow is seen on the highest ridges (July) the trail will take a little drop and halt before a small stream, the first water since leaving the bottom. This is Little Cottonwood.” — Hubert Dyer, Sierra Club Bulletin, 1893

The views are magnificent indeed, and more than a little frightening to the average back seat driver. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more awe-inspiring descent. I find it hard to believe that people actually ride bicycles up this mile-high monster. It makes one wonder how a trail could have been there, but the trail was there. In fact, it is shown on the 1981 Sequoia National Forest map, though it was cut at numerous points by Horseshoe Meadows Road. Much of the cliff faces seen from along that road were of course blasted for that road, and do not predate it. Also bear in mind that broad roads of this kind cannot work around the native cliffs as trails do.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Horseshoe Meadow Car Tour (T109) and Trail Peak Climb (T113). Also see Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness by Suzanne Swedo: Trail Pass, Mulkey Pass, and the Pacific Crest Trail (27).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 10. South Fork Kern

At Tunnel or “Chickenfoot” junction we enter the domain of a slightly different subspecies of golden trout native to the South Fork Kern. This junction was once known as the turnoff to Mount Whitney, but today it is better known as the boundary of two very special watersheds; a boundary that was once infamously compromised to favor one farming community over another.

South Fork Kern Golden Trout

In 1886, Chinese laborers dug a tunnel between the South Fork and Golden Trout Creek to divert water to the former. One account has it that the tunnel was soon dynamited by the constituency of the latter party.

“This narrow, stream-bordered dike is the great landmark for all Whitney travelers, as here the Whitney trail leaves the Hockett. This hranching place is again indicated by a tunnel under the dike which transfers the northern stream almost wholly into the southern. The traveler approaching the forks (Tunnel forks) from either direction will notice the sudden increase in volume of the southerly stream.” — Hubert Dyer, Sierra Club Bulletin, 1893

This is the starting point of two fishing trips: one up Golden Trout Creek, on the Siberian Pass Trail, and another down the South Fork Kern River, on the Ramshaw Trail. Add to those trips Golden Trout Creek as it flows down to Kern Canyon and the upstream South Fork, and Tunnel begins to look like a great base camp.

Once you’ve got your fill of this great golden trout junction, proceed east on the Trail Pass Trail, along the north edge of Tunnel Meadow. Look for a corral about midway, then an abandoned airstrip, which we might call Tunnel International Airport, toward the far eastern end of the meadow.

“THROUGH COOPERATION, Sierra Air ways offers those of our patrons who wish to save time, fast transportation by air, thirty minutes from Lone Pine to our new camp, located in the heart of the Sierra at Tunnel landing field. Tunnel field is the highest airport in the northern hemisphere-elevation, 9,200 feet.” — Chrysler and Cook Pamphlet

The trail then follows the brook that will develop into the South Fork downstream. It may not seem like much at this point, but look again: spot the golden glistening of its native trout?

Eventually the trail pops over a gap and descends into BullFrog Meadow, and finally the cattle pastures of Mulkey Meadow, before ascending northeast toward Trail Pass, the highest point on the Hockett Trail.

Contrary to some popular accounts, the Hockett Trail did not cross the divide at Cottonwood Pass. The route over Trail Pass is shorter, easier, and much better documented among early accounts.

The trail over Mulkey Pass is the shortest, most direct route which may be taken to reach this famous hunting area, although it may also be reached over Cottonwood Pass.” — Chrysler and Cook Pamphlet

More evidence: the Mount Whitney Trail began at Tunnel junction. If the Hockett Trail had climbed over Cottonwood Pass, there would have been no need for the Mount Whitney Trail to go so far south.

“From the summit of the watershed the trail traverses the famous Mulkey Meadows, named after a widely-known Sheriff of early days, and soon strikes the trickling source of the south fork of Kern river. It clings closely to its northern bank for a few miles and then comes out upon a narrow tongue of land, apparently a moraine, lying between two streams, branches of the south and north forks of the Kern, not more than three hundred feet apart.” — Hubert Dyer, Sierra Club Bulletin, 1893

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Horseshoe Meadow to Kern River Backpack (T114) and Saddles, Ridges, Passes, and Kern Peak Backpack (T115). Also see Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness by Suzanne Swedo: Tunnel Meadow (30) and Kern Peak (32).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 9. Golden Trout Creek

From here we head up the second native golden trout stream along the Hockett Trail, Golden Trout Creek.

California Golden Trout

The original Hockett Trail was without bridges. Its strategy for crossing the Kern River—the river that drowned John Jordan in 1862—was to follow the river upstream to a broad ford above two major tributaries: Coyote Creek, and what was once known as Volcano Creek and Whitney Creek. The trail then crossed at the ford and ascended eastward through a saddle behind a large knob known locally as Chief Joseph. It then crossed Golden Trout Creek (the stream’s third official name) and climbed up to the the vicinity of Natural Bridge, where the Golden Trout Trail passes today.

The aforementioned fording strategy led to the placement of Lewis Camp, a popular old hang out for Hockett Trail travelers, just north of where the ranger station is today. Even if you’re not about to ford the Kern—and you’re surely wise to avoid it—make sure to take time to wander up the canyon with your rod anyway, and see if you can spot any ruins along the way.

The present-day Golden Trout Trail features a steel-girder bridge, and it crosses the river downstream at a better bridging point, just below Golden Trout Creek. It then climbs out of the canyon along a somewhat more difficult route, just south of Golden Trout Creek.

Along the way, the walker sees numerous signs of geologically recent volcanism, such as columnar basalt, the basalt flows of Malpais (literally “bad country” in Spanish; akin to “badlands”), Natural Bridge, and beyond the flows the cinder cones themselves, active as recently as five thousand years ago.

The basalt fields dominate the floodplain to Groundhog Meadow and the accompanying cinder cone. Beyond this point the basalt persists in a more scattered pattern, and the Golden Trout Trail soon encounters several glacial moraines before ending at Tunnel junction.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Horseshoe Meadow to Kern River Backpack (T114). Also see Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness by Suzanne Swedo: Cottonwood Pass to the Kern River (31).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 8. Kern Canyon Fault

Trout Meadows: the old crossroads of the southern Sierra. Here’s where three trans-Sierra trails crossed: the Dennison, the Jordan, and our Hockett Trail. This is also where the eastern leg of the Hockett Trail begins, and the western leg ends. This is no arbitrary division: the Hockett Trail can very easily be seen as two trails that meet at Trout Meadows.

“The evidence indicates that main-traveled trails from Kaweah and Tule villages led to a common meeting ground near the junction of the Kern and Little Kern Rivers (Round Meadow – Trout Meadows area). If you wished to travel eastward you would travel one of several trails that converged on this meeting place from several Owens Valley points.” — Floyd L. Otter, Men of the Mammoth Forest, pgs. 27-28

As early as 1923, plans were published that would have had the entire eastern half of the Hockett Trail widened and graded for automobile traffic.

The new road, which is to run from Lone Pine in the Owens Valley, up into the high Sierras through Carroll Creek and over Mulky Pass, going westward to the heart of the Kern River country. — Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1926

This was all very exciting, but getting a road built even as far as Horseshoe Meadows proved to be quite a challenge. In 1929, Los Angeles road crews, ever in search of more water resources to exploit, were turned back by the cliffs below Wonoga Peak. Imagine that! The thirsty City of Los Angeles defeated by an engineering challenge!

The road that LA started didn’t get to Horseshoe Meadows until 1967. It may have never made it that far if developers had waited any longer, that being a bygone era. The Hockett route was challenging enough for pack trains; it proved quite prohibitive for auto traffic.

The Big Plan

The ambitious plan included a branch over Coyote Pass as well. It appears that this branch would have continued along Windy Ridge and Dennison Ridge to Milo (what was known ca. 1900 as the Dennison Trail).

Part of the old Jordan Trail would also likely have been part of that grand trans-Sierra project. That would be the segment of the Jordan Trail that backpackers, packers, and equestrians take from Lewis Camp Trailhead to Trout Meadows (33E01). This is another convenient river access point along the Hockett Trail, particularly via the Willow Meadows Trail (trail 33E14).

Dan on the Jordan Trail

From Trout Meadows, the trail heads directly north along the Kern Canyon Fault toward Kern Canyon, where it drops to canyon bottom.

While descending into the canyon, the trail meets a trail (33E05) that drops into the “Hole in the Ground”, certainly a worthwhile side trip for anglers.

Continuing along the Kern Canyon Fault, the trail occasionally striding over distinctive saddles called “kerncols” that keep the trail from the more rugged canyon bottom. The canyon offers a number of good campsites, the most exquisite being those adjacent to Little Kern Lake.

Dan above Little Kern Lake

Just before entering Sequoia National Park, the present-day trail veers away from the old trail by staying close to the river, whereas the old trail rose over yet another saddle. The present-day route is more scenic, but perhaps not quite as practical.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Coyote Lakes Backpack (T58) and Two Rivers Backpack (T59). Also see Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness by Suzanne Swedo: Trout and Willow Meadows (10) and Little Kern Lake (14).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 7. Little Kern Valley

Here, near the headwaters of the Little Kern, is where the Golden Trout leg of the Hockett Trail begins, and the native country of my favorite variety of golden trout.

The Little Kern Golden Trout

Ladies and gentlemen, present … fly rods!

… or just sit by the stream and enjoy the show.

The Little Kern descends quickly, then levels out as it flows down a v-shaped canyon toward its confluence with Shotgun and Rifle Creeks. Trail 31E12, which once formed a shortcut between Wet Meadows and Coyote Pass, has been unmaintained since 1995 at least, but the recent Cooney and Tamarack fires may have helped to clear away the accumulated overgrowth (undergrowth to the trees; overgrowth to the trail). About halfway down the canyon, the trail enters another zone of meta-sedimentary schist and marble.

The Hockett Trail and the Great Western Divide

Again, a shortcut to the Kern Canyon follows unmaintained trail 31E12 up over Coyote Pass. Though the original Hockett Trail did not cross the Great Western Divide, and all the accounts that I have read indicated travel around the divide, some early travelers probably did cross the divide at Coyote Pass as a late season alternate. That said, I have seen no early maps that indicate that the Hockett Trail itself crossed the divide; in fact, the only Coyote Pass trail I’ve seen indicated by maps before 1958 was not associated with the Hockett Trail, but proceeded from Mineral King. This is the same general trail that crosses the divide at Coyote Pass today. On an 1896 map of Sequoia National Park, it was labeled the “Poison Meadows Trail”, and “Dangerous”.In Chapter Three of The Challenge of the Big Trees, Lary M. Dilsaver and William C. Tweed indicate that the Hockett Trail did indeed cross the Great Western Divide, but the only details they provide on the matter contradict that indication:

“The Hockett Trail began near Tharp’s Ranch on the Kaweah River, ascended the South Fork of the Kaweah to the subalpine plateau now known as Hockett Meadow, then crossed into the Little Kern; it briefly combined with the Jordan Trail only to diverge to the north again and cross the main Kern in the vicinity of Kern Lake.”

The only way the cited passage could be true is if the trail skirted around the Great Western Divide, and met the Jordan (Dennison) Trail at Trout Meadows.

“There are four well beaten trails entering the valley of the little Kern from Tulare Valley and all unite before reaching the Big Kern.” … the roughest, up the South Fork of the Kaweah.” — P. M. Norboe (1903), cited by Floyd L. Otter, Men of the Mammoth Forest, pg 32

W.F. Dean of the Mt. Whitney Club included the following description of the Hockett Trail in an account of a trip that he took in July 1897 from Mineral King to the Chagoopa Plateau:

“We then followed the Hockett trail, via Round Meadow, Lion Meadow, and Burnt Corral Meadow.”

Note that this traveler skirted around the Great Western Divide as late as July, and that he identified the name “Hockett Trail” with that circuitous route.

Still, in spite of so much evidence, local common knowledge has it that the Hockett Trail had a late season branch over the Great Western Divide. Old hearsay dies hard.

From Rifle Creek, unmaintained Forest Service Trail 32E02 follows the river south. The original Hockett Trail ascends southward over a saddle, then descends to join 32E02, and follows that same trail, also unmaintained, to Trout Meadows.

After following the river for about a mile, trail 32E02 veers away from the Little Kern, and does not return to it, but there are places where it is not very far from the river. One such place is where the old Dennison Trail probably merged with the Hockett Trail, at Sagebrush Gulch.

Juan fords the Little Kern

A short hike along the north side of Sagebrush Gulch on unmaintained trail 32E11 takes you down to the Little Kern ford where that mountaineer and man of leisure Dennison may have crossed on his way to the Coso Range. He probably came down off the Western Divide along Mountaineer Creek (wouldn’t that be appropriate?), but we can access this ford more easily via Clicks Creek (also on trail 32E11).

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Coyote Lakes Backpack (T58) and Two Rivers Backpack (T59). Also see Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness by Suzanne Swedo: Lion Meadows Loop (11) and Northern Golden Trout Tour (20).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 6. The Western Divide

After crossing Hunter Creek, the incline increases as the Hockett Trail leaves the Hockett Plateau for the Western Divide. After ascending 850 feet, the trail reaches a ridgecrest that might deceive a traveler into thinking he’s reached the top, but he has another 300-foot climb ahead. All-in-all, it’s not a difficult ascent to the divide at Wet Meadows Entrance (9824′).

The original boundary of the park actually extended eastward beyond Wet Meadows to a longitude line. Since 1978, the Wet Meadows Entrance has been an entrance into the Golden Trout Wilderness.

The Western Divide is the divide that lies west of the Kern watershed, from Farewell Gap (above Mineral King) to the Greenhorn Mountains. It may be thought of as a branch of the Great Western Divide. It is not, as a whole, given a name on maps, so I take the name from the Western Divide Highway (California State Route 190). It is the first of two divides crossed by the Hockett Trail (the original trail skirted around the Great Western Divide).

On the eastern side of the divide, the trail (31E11) descends toward the Little Kern. The first signs of Wet Meadows bring the trail to a group of large campsites and the roofless remains of a cabin built by the Pitt brothers. At the downstream end of the meadows, there is a rather well-developed camp worth visiting. Be warned, though, that the trail splits at the meadow, and the branch adjacent to the meadow is not maintained.

Below the meadow, the trail encounters a trail to Quinn Patrol Cabin (31E13) on the right. From this junction, trail 31E11 continues toward Mineral King, and we descend in an east-southeast direction into the canyon of the Little Kern, taking care to stay south of the hump that rises just south of Wet Meadows Creek. The descent becomes increasingly more steep into the canyon. The last 400 feet are the worst. This route, once-upon-a-time trail 31E12, has not been maintained, or even used for many years, due to the facts that (1) trails in and out of Mineral King provide alternatives that did not exist in the 1860s, and (2) the Forest Service has not maintained trails in the Golden Trout Wilderness since 1995. Thankfully, some routes are maintained by packers, volunteers, and cowboys. There is hope, however, for this abandoned classic: the 2003 Cooney Fire may have cleared some of it for us.

This leg of the Hockett Trail ends at the Little Kern River, where we reach the first trout stream in the native range of the California golden trout. 31E12 and the old Hockett Trail crossed the stream here, as the canyon is more navigable on the east side. The river is relatively calm here, and the canyon bottom is relatively broad. The outlet stream of Wet Meadows, the Little Kern’s first tributary, flows into the river just upstream. See if you can spot the benchmark 7923 on the east side of the river.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Hockett Meadows–Little Kern River Backpack (T93).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 5. Hockett Plateau

The Hockett Plateau is a glacier-carved plateau at an elevation of about 8500 feet, from 8200 feet along the South Fork Kaweah River to 9500 feet near Summit Lake.

Dan on the western edge of the Hockett Plateau

This sub-alpine tableland can be covered in snow—not to mention mosquitoes—into summer. It features a wealth of meadows, plus a number of glacial tarns well on their way to becoming meadows. Soon after the snow melts, this maze of meadows blossoms into a paradise that has been protected for nearly 120 years now, and so has fared much better than similar meadowlands along the route.

Upon reaching the plateau, the Hockett Trail forded the South Fork Kaweah River, probably at the same point is crosses the river today. Once it crossed, however, it did not ascend the hill to Hockett Lakes as the present-day trail does, but rather proceeded east along the north side of the stream until reaching the far edge of the plateau. Along the way, the trail passes Sand Meadows and South Fork Meadows.

Soon after South Fork Meadows, one comes to a trail junction. The Hockett Trail is to the left and continues along the north side of Hunter Creek. The trail to Windy Gap proceeds to the right, up the South Fork.

The Hockett Trail and the Little Kern

A alternate to the lower Little Kern is accessible via Windy Gap. It crosses less rugged terrain adjacent to Soda Springs Creek, but crosses the Little Kern where the stream has a greater flow, so crossing is a bit more of a challenge. As many historic sites as are offered by this alternate, I have not seen any map from before 1940 (going back to 1896) that shows a continuous trail from Windy Gap to the Little Kern via Soda Spring. Furthermore, no maps or early accounts that I have seen associate that route with the Hockett Trail. Most access to the historic sites along this route, particularly after 1890, was probably via Balch Park Road.

Not long after the Hockett Trail was blazed to the plateau, ranchers drove livestock to its meadows. Clarence King fictionalized such a group of ranchers in his story The Newtys of Pike (Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, Chapter 5), based upon his visit to the Hockett Plateau in July 1864. King claimed to have met a family of hog farmers on the Hockett Plateau during this 1864 trip. A Hog farming family was elsewhere reported to have grazed their hogs on Hockett Plateau in 1864 (see Modern Settlement: The Early Explorers ). King appeared to use some license, as was the norm at that time. He may have had the song “Sweet Betsy from Pike” in mind when he wrote the tale.

King took the Hockett Trail as far as Golden Trout Creek, during his second unsuccessful attempt at climbing Mt. Whitney, and then returned on the same trail. He did not have much to say about the Hockett Trail, though at one point he claimed to have found a very pleasant campsite on the plateau; too pleasant, he claimed, to permit him to divulge its location. What little he did say about the trail must of course be subject to skepticism as he tended to take some liberty with his accounts.

Good camping can be found all along this leg of the trail from the river crossing to the confluence of Hunter Creek and the river. Hunter Creek can be a bit unappetizing as a source of water, but it will certainly do in a pinch.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Hockett Lakes–Summit Lake Backpack (T86) and Hockett Meadows–Little Kern River Backpack (T93).

A Hockett Trail Guide: 4. Ladybug vs. Garfield

Clough Cave is not the only cave in the South Fork area. There are four that I have heard of, one of which was discovered in 2006 and featured in National Geographic. Hundreds of such caves occur in marble outcrops which appear in the Sierra’s eroding meta-sedimentary shell. There are at least a half dozen such outcrops in the South Fork area.

At South Fork Campground we are confronted by a choice between (a) following the river to Ladybug and (b) ascending up the south face of the canyon.

The original Hockett Trail stayed near the river to just beyond Ladybug. This is the most direct route, but it requires two additional river crossings, and adds a very steep ascent after Ladybug.

The Hockett Trail and the South Fork, 1896
The Hockett & Salt Creek Trails (1896)

The difficulty of the second crossing is not trivial. It is in a small gorge, and the river rushes precipitously downhill there. I lost a water bottle several years back attempting to ford the river just upstream. The last bridge that crossed at Ladybug was washed out (as were others) in the winter of 1969. After that, the Hockett Trail was no longer maintained from end to end, unless one considers the Garfield-Hockett Trail a branch of the Hockett Trail, which I do.

Garfield Grove on an October morning

The reasons I have for considering the high route through Garfield Grove to be part of the Hockett Trail are:

  1. it is probably a superior route to the original one that was abandoned in 1969
  2. it serves all the needs of the original trail
  3. it is adjacent to the original trail and rejoins it quickly

The original trail does avoid snow in the early season, but I’ll take snow over snow melt just about every time. Consider Christopher McCandless.

Still, Ladybug is a great spot for trout fishing and, of course, lady bugs.

My friend Juan and I recently attempted to follow the old ascent up the big hill, but found that it was every bit as overgrown as we had been told. We found ourselves crawling through low-lying tunnels under thickets, hoping to come though to an opening, but the tunnels just kept on going.

Nothing that a good fire couldn’t fix.

The alternative is a long, strenuous haul up the north side of Dennison Ridge, but it offers plenty of shade, moderate slopes, frequent water sources, beautiful forests, stately campsites and all without any drowning hazard. Even with ice on the ground, this route is quite safe in most places.

One of the last wild nesting sites of the California condor before its reintroduction was a fire scar in a giant Sequoia tree, just on the other side of Dennison Ridge. Dennison Ridge, Dennison Peak, and Dennison Mountain get their names from a mountaineer who blazed the first trail across the southern Sierra. It is said that he died after stumbling over his own bear snare, just on the other side of this ridge that bears his name. Dennison's Chili

Legal camping on the Garfield route begins at Snowslide Camp, just beyond Snowslide Canyon, source of the infamous 1876 slide, what I like to call the “Centennial Slide” as a mnemonic. Downstream, at canyon bottom where the slide planted a small Sequoia grove, is the first legal campsite along the old route: Ladybug Camp. Above Ladybug, the old trail gets mighty steep and dry, so there isn’t really any other good camping along this leg of the old route.

See Exploring the Southern Sierra: West Side by Jenkins & Jenkins: Hockett Lakes–Summit Lake Backpack (T86) and South Fork Kaweah River Day Hike (T87).