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Buck Lakes Trail

Easy/Intermediate

Trail

1.6 mile 2.5 kilometer point to point
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 48' 15 m
Descent: -57' -17 m
High: 8,341' 2,542 m
Low: 8,318' 2,535 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 3% (2°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Trail shared by Lee Watts

Enjoy easy hiking around the rocky eastern shore. Many coves and inlets provide great camping and fishing.

Lee Watts

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked

Wilderness permits are required, but they are easily obtained at any Stanislaus Forest ranger station. Campfires are not allowed above 9000 feet, but Buck Lakes sits below that.

Description

The trail is easy, but either end is a long way from the nearest road. It is about 14 miles from three trailheads: Gianelli, Pine Valley, and Crabtree, and it is about 17 miles from Kennedy Meadows either via Upper Relief Valley or via Lunch Meadows and the Emigrant Lake Trail. I met two large groups of campers who got there in a single day with horses, mules, and a guide, which were rented from the stables near Pine Valley or Crabtree Meadows (about $250 per person roundtrip).

The Buck Lakes Trail starts from the junction of the Crabtree and Emigrant Lake trails on the western shore of Upper Buck Lake. It crosses the stream, runs down the eastern side of Lower Buck Lake, and then drops slightly to connect with the Bell Meadow and Letora Lake trails. In several places along the eastern shore, the trail splits into multiple paths, but all go in more or less the same direction, so route finding is not a problem. There is an equally good trail on the eastern shore of upper Buck Lake, but there was no obvious path on the northern side that crossed the creek to reach the Emigrant Lake Trail. However, I had no difficulty either finding my way or crossing the creek.

The lower lake is deeper and has polished granite on both sides. The upper lake is grassy on the west and northern sides, but it has good rocky points and campsites on the eastern side.

From the eastern shore of Upper Buck Lake, it is less than 3 miles to the beautiful western end of Emigrant Lake via the Emigrant Lake Trail.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#10550

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  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#1,143

in California

#10,550

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842 Since Sep 3, 2017
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

Upper Buck Lake is grassy and shallow on the west and north ends, but has rocky inlets and good campsites on the eastern side.
Sep 3, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Lower Buck Lake is deep and narrow, with inlets and rocky points.
Sep 3, 2017 near Twain H…, CA

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