Top Ten Northern California Adventures

Backpack the High Sierra
By Michael Holden
Sierra mountain high: Grab your pack! (Steve Roper)

Jagged peaks, lush meadows, vast canyons, rushing rivers, sky-blue mountain lakes: The abundance of beauty in the High Sierra is almost overwhelming. And whether you choose to luxuriate around your idyllic lakeside campsite or make an assault on the 12,279-foot Matterhorn Peak, you'll be well rewarded.

Enter from the east side at Twin Lakes, 13 miles outside Bridgeport, and you'll be in the high country after only a single, mildly strenuous day of hiking. The Barney Lake Trail and the Horse Creek Trail are the best places to begin circuit walking; from there you can choose your own route around the vast array of mountain lakes.

The ambitious can head up higher toward Sawtooth Ridge, an erratic, narrow, and in some places vertical wall of granite punctuated by jutting peaks. Matterhorn Peak offers adventurers a sizable (yet by no means unattainable) goal. You don't need any equipment to climb it, and the views from the top are some of the most spectacular you'll find in the High Sierras.

Trip Facts

Difficulty rating: Moderate to hardcore

When to go: July—September

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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