Best Short Hikes in California's Southern Sierra
by Paul Richins, Jr.
(new 2/23/03)

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Best Short Hikes in California's Southern Sierra: A Guide to Day Hikes near Campgrounds, by Karen and Terry Whitehill, rewritten by Paul Richins, Jr., Second Edition, March 2003, Mountaineers Books. Information on each hike has been extensively updated. Several hikes have been deleted and many new ones added. There are now more than 100 hiking destinations. Six appendices have been added providing essential information for planning your excursion including a summary of all the hikes arranged by level of difficulty. There is a table of the author's favorite hikes and another showing the best hikes for families with young adults. The book has a wonderful assortment of hikes from 2 to 22 miles for all levels of abilities including a moonlight hike of Mount Whitney.

The book's Table of Contents and Preface are copied below.

Click on Best Short Hikes to purchase the guidebook. It is also available from the publisher, Mountaineer Books in Seattle, by calling (800) 553-4453 or e-mail: and is in selected book and speciality stores.

Table of Contents

A Reminder to Hikers and Campers: Tread Lightly
A Note About Safety

How to Use this Guidebook
Being Prepared
Plants and Animals

1. Bald Mountain Lookout
2. Mystery Lake and Dinkey Lakes
3. Indian Pools
4. Rancheria Falls
5. Kaiser Peak
6. Twin Lakes and Lake George
7. Doris Lake and Tule Lake
8. Crater Lake

9. North Grove Loop
10. Boole Tree
11. Cedar Grove Overlook
12. Mist Falls
13. Weaver Lake
14. Jennie Lake
15. Muir Grove
16. Little Baldy
17. Tokopah Falls
18. Heather Lake and Pear Lake
19. Big Trees
20. Crescent Meadow
21. Atwell Grove and Paradise Peak
22. Monarch Lake and Sawtooth Pass
23. Crystal Lakes and Crystal-Monarch Lakes Loop
24. Franklin Lakes
25. Eagle Lake
26. White Chief Canyon

27. Cottonwood Lakes and New Army Pass
28. Chicken Springs Lake and Cottonwood Pass Loop
29. Camp Lake and Meysan Lake
30. Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail
31. Lone Pine Lake
32. Trail Camp and Mount Whitney
33. Mountaineers Route
34. Robinson Lake
35. Flower Lake and Kearsarge Pass
36. Dragon Peak Lakes and Golden Trout Lake

37. Big Pine Lakes
38. Brainard Lake and Finger Lake
39. Tyee Lakes
40. Green Lake
41. Long Lake and Bishop Pass
42. Treasure Lakes
43. Blue Lake and Midnight Lake
44. Lamarck Lakes
45. Loch Leven and Piute Pass
46. Horton Lakes
47. Pine Lake and Honeymoon Lake
48. Dorothy Lake and Tamarack Lake
49. Chickenfoot Lake and Morgan Pass
50. Ruby Lake and Mono Pass
51. Hilton Lakes

52. Convict Lake
53. Sherwin Lakes and Valentine Lake
54. McLeod Lake
55. TJ Lake and Lake Barrett
56. Crystal Lake and Mammoth Crest
57. Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows
58. Skelton Lake and Duck Pass
59. San Joaquin Ridge
60. San Joaquin Trail to Devils Postpile National Monument
61. Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake
62. Rainbow Falls
63. Glass Creek Meadow
64. Fern Lake
65. Parker Lake
66. Sardine Lakes

Appendix 1-Campground and Wilderness Permit Information
Appendix 2-Useful Contacts and Resources
Appendix 3-Summary of Hikes
Appendix 4-Author's Favorites and Family Friendly Gems
Appendix 5-Equipment Checklist for Day Hikes
Appendix 6-Further Readings and Bibliography

Preface to the Second Edition

The Sierra Nevada possess riches far beyond your wildest dreams- magnificent scenic vistas, majestic mountain summits, lush meadows, delightful wildflowers, picturesque alpine lakes, wild rivers and cascading cataracts. The drive to the various trailheads will take you past the largest trees in the world, provide dramatic views of some of the deepest canyons in the United States, and reveal splendid glimpses of the highest peak in the lower 48 states.

This guidebook has been written to assist hikers of all ages and abilities to experience these wonders. With easy automobile access, excellent trails, and comfortable campgrounds, no one is too young or too old to enjoy the splendor, charm, and rugged beauty of the Sierra Nevada's high alpine environment. The guide includes a nice mix of easy hikes from 2 to 6 miles for families with children and those that do not plan to spend an entire day hiking up a challenging trail. Also sprinkled throughout is an excellent composite of hikes for the adventurous who seek to explore a little further into the wilderness. For those considering camping, there is valuable information about the campgrounds located near each trailhead.

The First Edition of Karen and Terry Whitehill's Best Short Hikes in California's Southern Sierra was published in 1991. Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth printings quickly followed demonstrating the popularity and value of this guidebook to hikers and backpackers.

The Second Edition has been updated with the addition of extensive new material. Discussions of hypothermia, mountain sickness, giardia, water purification, and how to keep safe in a lightning storm have been added in Chapter 1. Each hike's "in a nutshell" informational block has been expanded providing additional summary data for quick reference. The description of each campground and hike has been carefully updated. Several hikes have been deleted and new ones added to improve the overall selection.

Many of the original outings have been expanded to feature two destinations--a shorter one and a longer one. The guidebook now has 66 numbered outings. With the addition of a second destination for many of the hikes, the total has been expanded to more than 100 separate excursions.

Bald Mountain Lookout, Pear Lake, and Franklin Lakes in Sequoia National Park; New Army Pass, Mountaineers Route, Whitney Portal National Recreational Trail, Golden Trout Lake, and Kearsarge Lakes in the Mount Whitney area; Finger Lake, Honeymoon Lake, Hungry Packer Lake, and Midnight Lake in the Bishop area; and Ediza Lake and Upper Sardine Lake in the Mammoth Lakes area are examples of a few of the new outings that have been added. Each is a special destination in a spectacular setting.

For well-conditioned hikers interested in climbing Mount Whitney, Hike 32 contains considerable new information that will increase your changes of success. A moonlight ascent of Whitney has also been included.

Six new appendices have been added. They provide essential information for planning an excursion to the mountains including phone numbers, websites, and mailing addresses. Valuable information for making campground reservations, securing wilderness permits, contacting the Forest Service or the National Park Service, finding the correct maps, locating shuttle services, and determining what equipment to take is all specified. What you may find to be the most helpful of all is the summary tables of each hike's mileage, elevation gain, level of difficulty, and nearest town (Appendix 3). The summary table coupled with a list of the Author's Favorites and Family Friendly Gems are handy tools to assist in selecting a hike that is just right for your group (Appendix 4).

I hope you will have many opportunities to explore the boundless riches of the Sierra Nevada. In so doing, your spirit will be renewed and perhaps inspired to new personal heights.

Your comments are appreciated and can be sent to or view my web site at

Happy Hiking, PAUL RICHINS, JR. 

Backcountry Resource Center by Paul Richins, Jr.
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