SBVC - Gem Lake Backpack (Intermediate)

  • Fri, August 13, 2021
  • Sun, August 15, 2021
  • Pinecrest, CA (Crabtree Trailhead)
  • 2


  • This trip is not for everybody. Trip leader will discuss backpacking experience and physical condition with all potential attendees prior to registration.
  • Please contact the trip leader to get the registration code.

    You must be a member of Great Outdoors to go on this trip. If not currently a member, you'll be given the option of joining for $25 during the registration process.

Registration is closed

SBVC – Gem Lake Backpack (Intermediate)

August 13-15, 2021

Total Distance: ~20 miles  Elevation Gain: ~3300ft   Route Type: Lollipop Loop

Note: Potential attendees must be screened by trip leader prior to registration. The Intermediate rating of this trip is based on distance traveled from vehicles, terrain, elevation, elevation gain, and expected weather.  Please contact the trip leader to discuss if this trip is right for you, and to obtain the registration code.

The Gem Lake Loop is located in Emigrant Wilderness, which borders Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, and offers incredible views, alpine lakes, lush forests, smaller crowds, and diverse terrain.  

Along our hike, the trail meanders between thick forest and open granite-filled vistas.  This area is known for being easily accessible due to gently-sloping wide open granite bowls and domes.  The elevation changes will bring us uphill and downhill a few times, however there aren't any drastic or long uphills to dread.

There are ample opportunities to filter water, both from the lakes and steams.

Two overnights on the trail offer plenty of time to explore the area.  On our free day, we have the latitude to do whatever we desire, whether that be staying around camp and reading or lounging, or taking a day hike from base camp.  I recommend Jewelry Lake and Deer Lake as nice options with cool waters in which to dip on a warm day.

Rest up well because on Sunday, we will eat breakfast, pack up camp, and hike the 10 miles back to our vehicles, mostly along a different trail before meeting back up with the main route.

In order to acclimate to the elevation and allow folks time to group up, our first night will be car camping at Crabtree Trailhead (~7200ft). The next morning, we'll eat breakfast and get on the trail by 9:00am to make the most of our day on the trail.

Thursday, 8/12 (Optional): Drive to Crabtree Trailhead for connecting with group (late afternoon) and elevation acclimation. Day hikes available.

Friday, 8/13: Breakfast, break camp and be at the Crabtree Trailhead ready to start hike at 9:00am. Hike 10 miles to Gem Lake.

Saturday, 8/14: Free day!  Lounge around camp or indulge in a day hike to Jewelry Lake or Deer Lake.

Sunday, 8/15: Breakfast, break camp and head 10 miles back to the trailhead via loop trail

Weather: Expect warm days and chilly evenings and mornings. Dressing in layers is the best way to manage the possible range of temperatures. Precipitation is always a possibility, so rain gear is mandatory.

Bring: 10 Essentials (no kidding, every person needs a personal first aid kit); water filtration; food for each meal plus extra snacks; water bottle and filter system; sleeping bag and pad; tent; broken-in hiking boots; layered clothing; jacket; rain gear; wide hat; compass; toilet paper & trowel; compact camp stove; fire starter; headlamp; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; camera and entertainment (book, card game, etc). Topographic maps of the area will be provided at the trailhead.

Cost: $20. Backpacking permit for each person is included. Maximum 8 people. When capacity is reached, a waiting list will be in effect. Cancel before August 1 to receive a refund.

Other considerations: As with any backcountry experience, this one is "Leave no Trace" - our trash comes out with us. Active bear area - mandatory use of either bear cannisters or hanging food sacks.

Directions: From Los Angeles take I-5 North to CA-99 North. Take Exit 186C E 16th St in Merced. Merge onto E 16th St. Turn Right onto G St and drive for 6.6 miles. Stay Right on Snelling Rd and drive for 9.4 miles.  Turn Right onto CA-59 North and drive for 1.5 miles.  Turn Left onto LaGrange Rd (signs for County Road J59 and Don Pedro Lake) and drive for 26.1 miles.  Turn Right onto CA-108E/CA-120E and drive for 40.4 miles.  Slight Right onto Pinecrest Lake Rd and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn Right onto Dogde Ridge Rd and drive for 3 miles.  Turn Right at Dodge Ridge Loop Rd and drive for 0.5 miles.  Turn Left onto Crabtree Road and drive for 4.9 miles. Carpooling is highly encouraged.

Trip Leader: Please contact Chris Fava at 805-509-8240 or at

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