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Advice re May Lake-Snow Creek to Valley Floor with Kids

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Advice re May Lake-Snow Creek to Valley Floor with Kids

Postby KateinSD » Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:25 pm

Hi! We are planning a nice and easy backpacking trip with two mid-kids (12 and 10 yrs.). We have a permit from the May—Lake Snow Creek Trailhead to the valley floor in September. I have three questions that come to mind (1) We’d like to take it nice and easy and spend two nights with three days of hiking – does that make sense and if so, should we camp in one spot for both nights (i.e., it doesn't make sense with such a short hike to move camp) or are there two great places to camp that will break up the hike for my kids a bit? (2) will there be regular sources of water in September? (3) Can the Hikers’ Bus get us close to the trailhead without taking us up to May Lake? Your insight and input is appreciated! :D
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Re: Advice re May Lake-Snow Creek to Valley Floor with Kids

Postby Phil » Sat Mar 19, 2016 4:51 pm


There are some steep portions of the trail down from Tioga Rd that you'll want to be aware of. Your kids are certainly old enough to handle it, but just no new or poorly fitting boots and heavy socks. You'll be able to carry plenty of water from the trailhead to make it to camp, and Snow Creek is going to give you plenty after that for day- hikes and cooking. There are also a few creeks in some of the areas you might want to hike in the area. Make sure the kids know the safety rules, and if they're going to head out on their own for a little exploration, walkie-talkies might not be a bad idea for keeping tabs. Make really sure everyone knows food storage protocols and follows them to the letter.

You could certainly set up a base camp at the top of Snow Creek Falls and day-hike from there, but any destinations are going to mean climbing out of the area. There are a few nice spots in the uplands above and around North Dome, but where you are is probably the best, so just stay there. There's Mt Watkins, North Dome, and Indian Rock. If you guys are feeling ambitious, you could also couple those two latter destinations with a day-hike over to/toward the top of Yosemite Falls, but it's about a 15 mile round trip. Definitely a "day" hike.

The descent on the Snow Creek trail to the Valley is steep and exposed, and it can get hot. I wouldn't count on water being available along the way. That time of year, get an early start.

Yes, the Hiker's shuttle from the Valley can drop you off right in the May Lake parking lot on the right side of the road, but your actual trailhead is up the road about another 1/4 mile of so from there. Talk to the driver and let him/her know where you want to go when you board. Ask him/her if they know the turnout where the actual trailhead begins. If they know it and feel comfortable about pulling the coach over safely, they should be able to drop you exactly where you need to be. If not, you can head either up the road on the shoulder if you feel it's safe enough (but it is the easiest way), or you can skirt the pond behind the parking lot and bushwhack it straight up the hill to an obvious use trail that will intersect the main trail. There is no trailhead from the parking lot...it might look like it, but it's nothing more than a trail to the pond that disappears quickly.
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Re: Advice re May Lake-Snow Creek to Valley Floor with Kids

Postby balzaccom » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:03 pm

If you haven't done either Watkins or North Dome, they are both stunning destinations for a day hike from the top of Snow Creek...
Check out our website and blog at: http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home
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