The snow pack is not doing so great as of the February 1 survey. However, we still have this month and March to go. They are both typically the wetter months. If the snow pack does not improve significantly, what will you do? Will you plan an earlier trip into the wilderness or go at your usual time?
The snow survey results are in for the state of California. As far as the Jennie Lakes Wilderness is concerned, the Kings River is the main watershed. How much snow is up there? Well if you have already been tuned into the news, we do not have much.
The average snow pack for the month of February is 23% of normal. If there is no more snow for the rest of the year, then the April 1 average is 14%. Remember that the April 1 date is important for the State regarding water allocations and planning for the summer months. Quite the contrast from last year! However, we do have two more months to get some snow on the ground. Let’s hope for a wet snow as that means more water!
As 2017 comes to a close, it is a reminder of one backpacking season finished and another one coming soon. Here is a playlist of all the videos submitted via YouTube regarding places in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. As you look back on 2017, may some of these videos remind you of a journey into Jennie Lakes. Enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: Videos are intended to be family friendly. No nudity, vulgar language, and/or inappropriate behavior are contained within the videos. However, if you find something that violates this ideal, please let me know. Each video has been reviewed, but human error is always a factor. Thanks!
Three hikers head into Weaver Lake for a day hike. This quick minute or so video is edited differently then past videos you may have seen. How is it different? Watch and find out. Enjoy.
Remember the father and two children that were struck by lightning at Jennie Lakes this summer season? Curious how they are doing? Well a brief 2 minute news broadcast, shown above, shows how they are doing and what they recall from the incident. Be safe all!
Nearing the end of the backpacking/hiking season, a detail trails report has been released. Many aspects of the descriptions will be incorporated into the “Plan Your Trip” section of the website. Thank you Wilderness Ranger Jeff for the information and all you and your teams hard work out there. Many users appreciate it! Now without further ado, here is the trails report.
Jennie Lakes Wilderness (JLW)
1) Big Meadow Trail (#29E03)/Weaver Lake Trail (#30E09) Big Meadow trailhead up to Weaver Lake:
At about 3.5 miles one-way, this is one of the easiest and most popular hikes in the JLW. The trail winds through Lodgepole Pines near the trailhead, climbs slowly (with a nice view into Kings Canyon) into Red and White Firs. A few minutes climb past the first junction with Fox Meadow (the “Leave No Trace” sign), pay attention as you get to the main junction splitting off to the Jennie Lake Trail heading south. The nice little creek here is a good spot for a rest and a water fill-up. Make sure to follow the path east to Weaver Lake unless heading on to Jennie Lake to the south. Near and at the lake you’ll also see some impressive big Mountain (White) Pines. Every summer this trail is cleared of most downed trees and the tread and water bars remain in good condition.
Once up at the lake, please camp in established campsite areas and do not build any new fire rings! There are over fifteen recommended areas (with established fire rings) located around the lake, most on the north and west sides. Look for the map at the spur trail junction leading to the lake. You must camp at least 100’ off of the lakeshore – there are several “no camping” signs posted. Trout fishing is generally very good at Weaver Lake!
2) Big Meadow Trail (#29E03)/Jennie Lake Trail (#29E05)
Big Meadow trailhead up to Jennie Lake:
Beginning the same as the hike up to Weaver Lake, this very popular trail turns south/southeast at the junction with the Weaver Lake Trail. It is about 7 miles to Jennie Lake cutting slowly around Shell Mountain and then up and down either side of Poop Out Pass. It is a bit of a climb up to the pass (look for the trail junction here that cuts down to Stony Creek to the south), but once there it flattens out before descending on the other side towards the lake. A final small ascent and descent leads past some great views into the northern section of the JLW and Kings Canyon as you get close to Jennie Lake.
There are primarily Lodgepole Pines and White and Red Fir trees along the trail, with some Jeffrey Pines on the way as well as Mountain Pines higher up. The trail is cleared of most downed trees every summer at least up to Poop Out Pass, but there remain a few trees along the route. There are some rock and water bar issues coming up and down either side of Poop Out Pass with some rocky wash out on small sections of the trail, but in general the tread and most of the water bars are also in good condition. In the winter the rocky section can be tricky when buried in snow. Pay attention and look for old tree blazes and cut logs showing the trail route.
Once up at the lake, please camp in established campsite areas and do not build any new fire rings! There are about twenty recommended areas (with established fire rings) located all around the lake, most on the north and west sides. Look for the map at the spur trail junction leading to the lake. You must camp at least 100’ off of the lakeshore – there are several “no camping” signs posted. Trout fishing is also generally very good at Jennie Lake!
3) Rowell Meadow Trail (#30E08) Rowell Meadow trailhead up to Rowell Meadow:
Another relatively easy hike, it is about 2.5 miles up to the meadow and the old snow survey cabin. Please drive slowly as you pass the Horse Corral camp on the way in; the trailhead is about 2 miles up a decent dirt road. Once on the trail there is a ½ mile ascent up a rocky section to the wilderness boundary sign, and this provides some excellent views west and south into the heart of the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. From the wilderness boundary, the trail flattens out most of the way to the meadow and is a smooth hike. Just before the meadow, watch for the trail sign at the junction that directs you south towards JO Pass and the Weaver Lake Trail junction. The old cabin is just east beyond the trail junction.
The Rowell Trail itself winds through mostly White and Red Fir trees with a few Jeffrey Pines and Juniper on the dry rocky slope, and then turns into thick Lodgepole Pine groves near the meadow. Every summer the trail is cleared of most downed trees. The rocky section of the trail has some minor rock and water bar issues and is heavily used by stock, so be careful of loose rocks. But in general the tread and trail condition is also very good here.
On the east side of the meadow, there is a trail junction for four different trails, two of which head into Kings Canyon NP. We’ve had a rash of trail sign theft recently in this area, so please check your map and make sure to take the correct path. Please do not rely on GPS when hiking in the wilderness! Topographic maps are the way to go, always. If camping near the meadow, look for one of the three established campsites near the wooden bridge and please do not build any new fire rings.
Note: in dry seasons and late in the Summer, there is very little water near the meadow. The closest reliable water sources are a) about ½ mile south up the JO Pass Trail, and b) about a ½ mile north up the trail towards Marvin Pass.
4) JO Pass Trail (#30E11) Rowell Meadow junction up to JO Pass:
This trail leads you into the heart of the Jennie Lakes Wilderness, linking you to the Weaver Lake Trail, JO Pass, Jennie Lake and south into Sequoia National Park towards the Lodgepole area. It is about 4 miles from the junction up to the pass itself. There is some slight up and down along the trail, with a little climb before you reach the junction with the Weaver Lake Trail, and then again as you approach JO Pass you ascend a clear, rocky section. Watch for the trail sign at the first junction which leads west towards Weaver Lake. Once you continue past the Weaver Lake Trail junction heading south, just to the east off the trail you can cut over to the “Profile View” (see your map) for a great view over the boundary and down into the Park Service wilderness. Once you arrive at JO Pass, there are some old campsites down by the creek if you need an isolated campsite. Look for the trail signs at the pass directing you on to Jennie Lake or further south into the park.
From the Rowell Meadow area, the trail winds through a thick Lodgepole Pine forest and then starts ascending up towards JO Pass, where it becomes White and Red Fir, with Mountain Pines appearing higher up. Once on the clear rocky section, to the west you get a nice view of Jennie Peak in the distance. There are a couple of very old, very large downed trees on the trail, but all with good user trails around them. There are also some minor rock and water bar issues with some washout on small sections of the trail up and down the rocky sections towards JO Pass, but in general the tread and trail is in good condition.
Again, if you want to camp at JO Pass, there are several good campsites established by the creek below the pass, as well as above it near the small pond. Please do not build any new fire rings. Just to the south and west of the JO Pass Trail junction there are some great views into Sequoia National Park.
4) Weaver Lake Trail (#30E09)
Weaver Lake over to JO Pass junction:
It’s about 4.5 up and down miles from Weaver Lake heading east to the junction with the JO Pass Trail. Past Weaver Lake, the trail remains relatively flat until you descend into the Boulder Creek drainage where you will cross several streams (a great water source late in the summer) that all become Boulder Creek – the main water source in most of the JLW. After the streams you begin a somewhat steep ascent on a rocky section up towards the JO Pass Trail junction with some spectacular views north, south and west into the JLW. Once up the rocky slope and heading east towards the JO Pass Trail junction, look for the remnants of an old gate near the junction.
Just below Weaver Lake itself, there is a trail sign directing you in the direction of Rowell Meadow. Along the way towards the JO Pass Trail, you’ll hike through thick White and Red Fir forests, with Lodgepole Pines and some Mountain Pines as well. Once you start descending into the valley and ascending on the other side, there are some rock and water bar issues as well as some brush overgrowth, with some loose rocks and washout on sections of the trail before and after the streams. Watch your footing in these sections! We’ve cleared a lot of downed trees in recent years, but each winter brings down a few more. In general the trail is in decent condition and one can fairly easily do the whole loop from Weaver to Jennie and back out, going either direction. After normal winters with heavy snowfall, the Boulder Creek drainage is bursting with swollen creeks and very fast moving water – proceed with caution in May and June!
5) Marvin Pass Trail (#30E06)/Mitchell Peak Trail (#30E07a)/Kanawyer Gap Trail (#30E07) Marvin Pass trailhead up to Mitchell Peak, and out to Kings Canyon NP via the Kanawyer Gap:
Another short hike, it’s about a 3 mile hike one-way up to the beautiful views of Mitchell Peak, at 10,365 feet the highest vista point in the JLW. The round-trip hike to Mitchell Peak is fairly moderate and is easily done in a day. The trail begins with a slow, steady climb of about a mile through Red and White Fir trees, from the trailhead up to the trail junction at Marvin Pass, where you can head south towards Rowell Meadow and the Seville Lake Trail, or continue east on the Kanawyer Gap Trail towards Mitchell Peak and the Park boundary. The trail sign here was recently stolen, so please pay attention to your map and the trail so you head the proper direction. Heading east, look for the sign post directing you up to Mitchell Peak (sign also stolen recently). After that junction, the Kanawyer Gap Trail goes a short ½ mile or so into Kings Canyon NP, heading down towards Roaring River.
The trails are cleared of most downed trees and are in very good condition, with only very minor water bar work needed and stock use creating several user trails in a few areas near Marvin Pass (please stay on the original trail!) and over towards Rowell Meadow. These trails receive a lot of stock use heading in and out of the Park and there is a High Sierra camp nearby, so you can expect to run into people and horses. On the way up Big Meadows Road look for a small ‘hiking’ and “Marvin Pass à” sign pointing to the turn off to your right (south). The dirt road to the trailhead is fairly well maintained and most cars can easily make it, but it has been rutted out a bit recently.
6) Seville Lake Trail (#30E43)
Rowell Meadow trail junction up to Park boundary:
An easy 1.5 mile jaunt takes you from the east end of Rowell Meadow up to the boundary with Kings Canyon NP. This “Lakes Trail” is a very common route for hikers and horses coming or going from the three popular lakes in the park (Seville, Lost, Ranger). The trail is clear of most downed trees and is in very good condition. Once you enter the park, however, the trail becomes quite steep descending the first section towards the lakes. The last report was that there were a lot of downed trees on the park side.
Note: on some recent maps a shortcut trail going directly from Seville Lake north up to the Forest boundary is listed. There is no trail here! A very rough cross-country path was created by some hikers, but it is not maintained and very difficult to follow. Please stay on the official trails.
7) Stony Creek Trail (#29E06)
Stony Creek trailhead up to junction with Jennie Lake Trail:
A fairly steep, but beautiful hike up from the well-established Stony Creek campground, this trail is generally only used by day hikers. It is about 4 miles up to Poop Out Pass and the junction with the Jennie Lake Trail, but most overnight hikers enter through the easier Big Meadow trailhead. Climbing through Fir tree forests for the most part, you’ll also see some Jeffrey and Mountain Pines as you hike right alongside the National Park boundary for most of the trail. There are some excellent vistas looking west and north when you arrive at a rocky clearing about halfway up the trail.
Recently cleared of most downed trees, the trail is in better condition than it has been in several years, but there are a few rock and water bar issues in small sections. Particularly as you climb in the approach to Poop Out Pass, it can be steep and strenuous in sections. Along the rocky sections, the trail can be difficult to follow so please pay attention as you hike. There are usually rock cairns guiding the way through this section. If you are planning an overnight trip to Jennie Lake, in general the best option is to enter at Big Meadows TH to the north.
Remember those lightning fires sometime back? Well the reason why there hasn’t been much of an update is because they are still very small and very slowly progressing. The Rowell Fire has been slowly growing over the past few weeks and is the largest. . A total of 4 are within or near the Jennie Lakes Wilderness. No trail closures are in place at this time. Updates on the fires are near the bottom of the official announcement below.
After an in-depth analysis of recent lightning-caused fires in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness and the Sequoia & Kings Canyon Wilderness, fire managers, along with Forest Service and National Park Service leadership, are now jointly monitoring three wildfires. A fourth wildfire, the Trail Fire, is being monitored by the Sequoia National Forest.
These fires currently pose no threat to life, property, improvements, or infrastructure. All four fires are located in designated wilderness areas where fire has naturally occurred for thousands of years.
By using this tactic, fire managers are greatly reducing the risk to firefighters by limiting exposure in rugged and remote areas of the forest and park. Additionally, both agencies are minimizing the use of firefighting resources during this critical time of year; allowing those resources to be available to respond to fires that do pose risks to life and property.
The status of the four fires and their respective jurisdictions are:
Current Size: 0.1 acres
Current situation: No smoke showing
Jurisdiction: Kings Canyon National Park
Current Size: 0.1 acres
Current situation: No smoke showing
Jurisdiction: Kings Canyon National Park
Current Size: 5 – 6 acres
Current situation: Low-intensity, smoldering
Jurisdiction: Sequoia National Forest
Current Size: 1 acre
Current situation: Creeping, smoldering
Jurisdiction: Sequoia National Forest
Smoke may be visible to those traveling in this area. Smoke and air quality management is of high importance to Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Visitors can visit www.valleyair.org to learn more about specific current air quality and forecasts for this area.
Both agencies have fire restrictions in place for various areas. For more information visit:
– Sequoia National Forest / Giant Sequoia National Monument: www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia
– Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks: go.nps.gov/sekifirerestrictions
9/3/17: Fires were patrolled by helicopter today and have shown no growth. One photo was added of the Seville Fire.
9/13/17: Fires were observed via air this week and have shown no significant growth.
9/14/17: The area was flown by helicopter. Growth was observed on the Rowell and Trail Fires to each still be less than 1 acre via GPS. Fire activity on the Rowell and Trail was creeping and smoldering.
9/17/17: Fire were patrolled via helicopter. Growth was observed on the Trail Fire to be 1 acre. Other fires have no change in size. Two new photos added.
9/21/17: The Rowell Fire was on the ground mapped yesterday by firefighters and is now two acres. A map of the Rowell Fire has been added. All other fires are the same size. Measurable rain has fallen across the area.
10/1/17: Fires were flown via the parks’ helicopter on 9/30. No growth observed on any of the fires.
10/8/17: Fires were patrolled by the parks’ helicopter on 10/7. Growth only observed on the Rowell Fire, now estimated at 5 – 6 acres. New picture added of Rowell Fire.
If you have not seen this already, a father and two children head out to Jennie Lakes. A storm comes in and while taking shelter they are hit by lightning. Fellow campers across the way actually catch the bolt striking the tree and the family. Check out this video above. Thankfully all of them will make a full recovery!
Remember there is no such thing as a “safe place” from lightning in the backcountry. All we can do is minimize the likelihood of us being “the rod” in which the lightning finds. Here are some great guidelines from NOLS regarding minimizing your chances of being struck (PDF HERE).