The snow pack has been great this year, but it has definitely pushed back the date for people’s plans to enter portion so the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Golden Trout Wilderness portion of the Sierra Nevada is no exception. This holiday weekend there will only be one road open.
The Lloyd Meadow Road that goes north of Johnsondale is the only road open and providing access to a trailhead leading into the wilderness (Jerkey Meadow Trailhead). All other trailheads remain behind locked gates and/or snow. Here is the current information as we approach Memorial Day weekend.
Sequoia National Forest
- North Road (21S50) – Closed due to large snow banks a mile in and beyond. This also includes access to the Golden Trout Pack Station and Lewis Camp TH.
- Lloyd Meadow Road (21S82) – Open
- Road 20S67 to Forks of the Kern – Closed
- Sherman Pass Road (22S05) to Black Rock TH – Closed. There MAY be access to Black Rock Visitor Center on Sunday over Memorial Day weekend. However, access to the Black Rock TH is further north and will be closed.
Inyo National Forest
- Horseshoe Meadow Road – Closed
Sequoia National Park
Mountain Home State Forest
- Bear Creek Road – Opened only to Balch Park. Roads from there to Shake Camp are closed, which is a big attractant for those wanting to use the Long Meadow Trail up to Summit Lake.
Snow pack comparison in Mineral King from May 2016 to 2017
Some users enter the Golden Trout Wilderness through Mineral King. Once south of Farewell Gap, they enter into what some consider a hidden gem within the Sequoia National Forest’s side of the wilderness. By the looks of things in the photo above, it would appear Mineral King may not open in time for Memorial Day weekend due to the snow. Stay tune in the coming days to weeks for updates regarding road and trailhead conditions.
Ready to head out into the wilderness Memorial Day weekend? Well you may want a plan B if you were going to use some of the popular roads to access the trails. Right now many are still closed. Here is the latest as of this post.
Sequoia National Forest
- Only road open is Lloyd Meadow, just north of the community of Johnsondale. Side roads are not opened yet (like Forks of the Kern).
- Crews are heading out to many of the Forest Service roads to evaluate their condition. They are looking for how much snow is left, what trees fell down, and if there is any damage due to this past winter. They will clear and fix what they can to make it safe for the public to use.
- Roads may not be open till mid June, even though they are trying their best to get them open Memorial Day weekend. Your patience is appreciated.
Inyo National Forest
- The main access via Horseshoe Meadow Road is not open to the public. Due to the wash outs from the past winter, the latest info is the road could be open sometime in June or later into July.
- Nine Mile Road is open into Kennedy Meadows.
Sequoia National Park (Mineral King)
As more information becomes available, it will be posted here. Stay tuned!
The final snow survey results are all in for 2017. How exactly is the wilderness looking this year? It is looking exceptionally good! For the May 1 survey the Kern River Basin is setting at 210% of normal for the month of May. The Kern hasn’t seen this for several years now (last “good” year was 2011 surveys). Great news for all those who will be crossing/visiting creeks and lakes this season.
What does this mean for you though? What should you expect with so much snow this late? Some things that may occur with so much snow are the following:
- Prolonged snow melts which creates prolonged flows in creeks and rivers. Thus resulting in colder and higher flows in creeks and rivers.
- Trails may contain or are still covered in snow when they are usually not.
- Delayed access to trailheads along roads due to persisting snow.
Road conditions will be updated as soon as official word arrives. Where do you plan to go this season?
Thanks to Chuck Stokke for images of the Golden Trout Pack Station on the Sequoia National Forest side of the Golden Trout Wilderness. As you can see in the slideshow above, there is still quite a bit of snow at the pack station. At 215% of normal for the April 1 survey and a new system coming in this weekend, one could expect the piles of snow to get deeper. Thanks for sharing Chuck!
Date(s): Mar 13, 2017 – May 31, 2017
Substantial rain and snow from the atmospheric river events that took place in January and February of 2017 caused significant damage on Horseshoe Meadows Road. In one particular area, weather induced erosion has reduced the road to an unstable and unsafe single-lane.
The Inyo County Road Department has inspected the road damage that can currently be accessed and is in the process of determining the scope of the project, including the time estimate involved in the required road repair. At this time repair work will involve stabilizing the roadbed, stabilizing the shoulder, and preventative measures that would reduce further erosion.
Currently Horseshoe Meadows Road is under normal winter closure; however, it is important that the public is aware that this road is unsafe. As the project progresses more information will be released, including the projected opening of the road.
Thank you for your patience.
The April 1 snow survey results are in for 2017. The Kern River basin is at 215% of normal! Two years ago it was 5% of normal and last year it was around 75%! It is great to see so much water back in the Sierra Nevada mountains, especially the Golden Trout Wilderness. With all this water, what does it mean?
There is still one more survey next month that will give a better idea of what the summer season will hold for users of the Golden Trout Wilderness. If the trend continues, one could expect delays to some trailheads. This depends on elevation and access, but snow and ice could persist well into June creating barriers for road crews. For now it will be wonderful to have a lot of smaller creeks with water, meadows wetter, lake lines higher, and some of the groundwater recharged. What do you think?
View of Maggie Mountain to Vandever (SQF)
With 10 out of the 14 surveys reporting in, there is great news after years of drought in the Golden Trout Wilderness. The March 1 survey for the Kern River basin is at 275% of normal! What great news when we have seen natural lakes dry out in certain parts of the wilderness. If all this snow continues on the average trend, it MAY delay access to the wilderness due to so much snow (i.e. plowing the roads, repairing winter damage to the roads, etc.). There are still two more months of surveys to go before so time will tell. What do you think about this large snow pack? Is too much snow a bad thing?
Enjoy a father and daughter’s trip into the Golden Trout Wilderness. They start in Monache Meadow and hike into Brown Meadow where an old cow camp resides. The video was originally taken in June of 2016, but wasn’t available until recently. Enjoy!
Main building site at Jordan Hot Springs
Every once and awhile a comment is made directly on the website about a particular trip. It could be sharing a highlight from ones adventure, a close call, or even recalling what things were like several years ago. If you have not seen it already and like history, you may want to check out the buzz around the Jordan Hot Spring trip on the Inyo NF side of the Golden Trout Wilderness.
Following a description of the day trip to Jordan Hot Springs there is a new slide show of the old resort. You can still see the remnants of the area today to the south of the hot springs themselves. What adds to the history are personal stories from visitors of this site talking about when they worked there and what it was like.
If you have stories to share always feel free to leave a comment on the page. It may spark a memory for others or encourage them to visit the spot this next summer season. Enjoy!