Sawtooth Pass TH to Crescent Meadows

This is the proposal for the July trip spanning 5 days and 4 nights. It looks a bit hellish at the front and finishes pretty easily. This should have some spectacular views, and it will be the first time we go down Kaweah Gap, so it will be picturesque to say the least.

For reference below on the “Uphill Grade” comparison

  • Brutal = Elizabeth Pass is 1200′ per mile over 2.8 miles. The backside was 3.6 miles at 659′ per mile
  • Piece of cake = Panther Gap is 422′ per mile over 2.9 miles.

Day 1 – Sawtooth Pass TH to Pinto Lake

  • Total Distance: 7.4 Miles
  • Cumulative Elevation Gain: 3643 ft.
  • Cumulative Elevation Loss: 2758 ft.
  • Mileage with Elevation Gain: 12.9 Miles
  • Uphill Grade
    • Timber Gap – A good workout, 812′ per mile over 2 miles
    • Ascent to camp – Calorie burner, 664′ per mile over 2.5 miles
  • Downhill Grade
    • The other side of Timber Gap – Tough on the knees, 890′ per mile over 2.75 miles. Not as long as the backside of Elizabeth Pass, but steeper.

Start at 7800′, proceed to 9500′ over 2.1 miles to “Timber Gap”. We then drop to 7000′ over the subsequent 2.7 miles. At this point we pick up “Cliff Creek” which would be our first point of water since starting. We follow Cliff Creek up to Pinto Lake for the next 2.47 miles which is our campsite for the night at 8720′. There appear to be campsites on the trail below Pinto Lake, but the lake itself may be unreachable. We should be able to find water at Cliff Creek. Overall because of Timber Gap, followed by the steep descent, and then ascent back to camp, being the first day of the trip, this is likely to be a pretty tough day.

Day 1 Hike Profile
Day 1 Trail

Day 2 – Pinto Lake to Big Arroyo

  • Total Distance: 7.5 Miles
  • Cumulative Elevation Gain: 3578 ft.
  • Cumulative Elevation Loss: 2727 ft.
  • Mileage with Elevation Gain: 12.9 Miles
  • Uphill Grade
    • Black Rock Pass – Difficult, 978′ per mile for 3 miles
  • Downhill Grade
    • Down to Camp – Not bad, 468′ per mile for 4.5 miles

Start the day at 8750′ and immediately climb to 11,650′ over 3 miles crossing “Black Rock Pass”. We then move into a slow descent with an occasional 200′ ascension bump into the Big Arroyo where we make our camp at the “High Sierra Trail” junction at 9544′. There should be water near the junction as multiple lakes feed into the Big Arroyo. Having an immediate climb up and over early in the morning should make this easier, but following an immediate previous day of climbing is going to make it tough. Luckily the descent on the backside is not too bad after the first mile, but overall this day will also be pretty tough.

Day 2 Profile
Day 2 Trail

Day 3 – Big Arroyo to Hamilton Lake

  • Total Distance: 6 Miles
  • Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1248 ft.
  • Cumulative Elevation Loss: 2574 ft.
  • Mileage with Elevation Gain: 7.9 Miles
  • Uphill Grade
    • Kaweah Gap – Easy, 365′ per mile over 3 miles
  • Downhill Grade
    • Down to camp – A workout, 860′ per mile over 3 miles, but the trail is really nice.

We start heading up the Big Arroyo towards “Kaweah Gap” at 10,688′ over 3 miles, and then drop into Precipice Lake at 10,300′ in .5 miles. We can hang out here for a while, drink some wine, it’s a pretty easy day so whatever. We then drop into Hamilton Lake at 8253′ where we camp and just enjoy live fishing, swimming, whatever. This should be a fun and easy day.

Day 3 Profile
Day 3 Trail

Day 4 – Hamilton Lake to 9 Mile Creek

  • Total Distance: 5.8 Miles
  • Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1986 ft.
  • Cumulative Elevation Loss: 2673 ft.
  • Mileage with Elevation Gain: 8.8 Miles

This is moderate up and down through relatively level terrain after the immediate descent from Hamilton Lake. There is an initial 1000′ descent to Buck Creek over 2.5 miles, followed by a slight jump up and then down into 9 mile creek over the next 3 miles. We can get a late start on this day, there is no rush and we can have an extended breakfast at Hamilton Lake. We can stop to do sight seeing at Bearpaw meadows, and finish the day at 9 mile creek which isn’t really that interesting but whatever. This is a clearing miles type day, pretty easy.

Day 4 Profile
Day 4 Trail

Day 5 – 9 Mile Creek to Crescent Meadows

  • Total Distance: 8.1 Miles
  • Cumulative Elevation Gain: 2702 ft.
  • Cumulative Elevation Loss: 3543 ft.
  • Mileage with Elevation Gain: 12 Miles

This is relatively flat again with some ups and downs as we walk into Crescent Meadows. It will probably be a long but easy day, lots of meadows and such for viewing wildflowers, along with some annoying people. But oh well.

Day 5 Profile
Day 5 trail

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