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Granite Dome Lakes

Difficult
 4.7 (3)

This off-trail route heads to the lakes in high granite cirques beneath Granite Dome.


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Map Key

3.7

Miles

5.9

KM

Point to Point

9,595' 2,925 m

High

8,356' 2,547 m

Low

1,311' 400 m

Up

428' 130 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

20%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Wilderness permits are required, but they are easily obtained at any Stanislaus Forest ranger station. The area of the lakes is above 9000 feet, so campfires are not allowed.

Description

Several different routes are described on the web for climbing to the lakes beneath Granite Dome. I believe the route described here is the easiest for reaching Iceberg, Sardella, Ridge, and upper Lewis lakes. It is off-trail and there is a small amount of scrambling; however, this is mostly just a hike with no dangerous exposure, assuming the right route and no snow. After the snow has melted, it would not be difficult to reach Granite Dome from this route.

The route leaves the Huckleberry Trail just above the fork between Summit Creek and Lewis Lakes Creek. This is just over seven miles from Kennedy Meadows at an elevation of about 7300 feet. Cross both creeks, and head up the wide canyon west of the trail. By staying a little high on the north side of the canyon, you can avoid the downed trees in the forested sections and hike in almost a straight line to the gap at the top of the canyon. There are many cairns. After you find one, they should help you stay on the best route. The canyon becomes steep and has a low cliff at the top. The easiest way to climb the cliff is on the far right side of the gap. None of the lakes are visible from the top.

To reach Sardella, drop a little from the gap and then contour to the southwest taking advantage of several wide ledges. When you reach the grassy and flowery stream coming down from Sardella Lake, follow it up to the lake.

From Sardella, there is a short draw leading to upper Lewis Lake. This lake is in a granite cirque directly below Granite Dome. The easiest way up the north side of Granite Dome is to climb up the ridge west of upper Lewis Lake. I did not try it, because there were still patches of deep snow.

Return back to Sardella Lake. As you begin to drop down the outlet stream, you'll see a long, 30-50 foot cliff of granite dropping down to the northeast. To get to Ridge Lake, climb this cliff as soon as you can, not very far below Sardella Lake. You can then hike down along the top of the cliff until you reach the north end of Ridge Lake.

From there, you can continue northwest to Iceberg Lake. The north end of Iceberg has a great view overlooking Relief Valley and East Flange Rock.

Return back to the north of Ridge Lake and climb down the steep 50-foot slope. You should see a cairn marking the way down the slope. From the bottom, you can reach the ledges that lead back the way you came, to the gap and on down to Summit Creek.

Contacts

Shared By:

Lee Watts

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes

#5965

Overall
  4.7 from 3 votes
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#496

in California

#5,965

Overall
67 Views Last Month
1,507 Since Sep 17, 2017
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Photos

Upper Lewis Lake and Granite Dome. Climbing Granite Dome from here would not be difficult except there are still deep snow patches (8/26/2017)
Sep 17, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Ridge Lake.
Sep 18, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Sardella Lake looking towards East Flange Rock.
Sep 17, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Ridge Lake.
Sep 18, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Iceland Lake.
Sep 18, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA
Ridge Lake and East Flange Rock
Sep 17, 2017 near Bridgeport, CA

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Check-Ins

Oct 13, 2020
Max Ross
Beautiful in the fall. Trailhead is open despite covid and fires. When doing the off trail, the advice of "follow the trees up" was really good.
Aug 16, 2020
Yu Chen Hou
Decent conditions, make sure to have a GPS and try to get to the top of the Granite Dome!