“Trail runs next to magnificent Emigrant Lake and down to Buck Lakes, connecting the Huckleberry and Crabtree trails.
— Lee Watts
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 or within 1/4th mile of Emigrant Lake. Dogs are supposed to be on leash, but none of the dogs that I saw were on a leash
Emigrant Lake is the largest lake in the Emigrant Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. It was created, or at least enlarged, by a dam across the North Fork of Cherry Creek. With the exception of the marshy east end, it has rocky borders and islands. However, it lacks rocky points and inlets, so fishing is difficult without a boat. The campers that I saw had inflatable boats that they peddled with their feet. These must have been brought in by mules from the stables near Kennedy Meadows or the Crabtree/Pine Valley area.
Most campsites are located on the beautiful western end. Those in the middle had stakes saying "No Camping" and there was only one campsite on the eastern end. There might be good camping near the east end's southern shore, but it has no official trail.
As the trail passes along the northern shore, it has been re-routed up into the rocks, well above the shore. However, the old trail is still mostly passable. From the west end of Emigrant Lake, the trail climbs slightly and then drops down 600 feet beneath a coniferous forest until it fords Meadow Creek above Buck Lakes. Except during the main snow melt, you should be able to find a place to cross without submerging your boots. Meadow Creek travels down a very long valley that extends to the northeast for miles above the Emigrant Lake Trail. Much of it is covered with meadows, filled with brightly colored flowers.
As you near Upper Buck Lake, there are several trails of use that make it difficult to follow the main trail. One trail goes straight ahead to cross Meadow Creek and then passes along the eastern shore of Buck Lakes. The main trail turns slightly to the right and goes underneath the trees to meet the junction of the Crabtree and Buck Lakes Trail
near the southwest corner of Upper Buck Lake. On the way, there are branches to the right going to a packer camp.
Flora & Fauna
Conifers, including lodgepole and hemlock and many varieties of colorful flowers.