Fewer crowds than Yosemite. Peaceful lake and wilderness surroundings. Gorgeous mountain views. 4.5 miles, out-and-back trailelevation gain: 1,000ft.

Chewing Gum Lakes is located in Emigrant Wilderness, South of Lake Tahoe and North of Yosemite, with stunning valley views and gorgeous granite faces, peaking through the tree lines of the Stanislaus National Forest. Sitting just north of Yosemite allows you to take in a portion of the beauty of Yosemite's surroundings with a quarter of the crowd.

You need to pick up permits to backpack here; you can do this at the Summit Ranger District in Pinecrest which is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes away from the parking lot. You can begin this trip from the Crab Tree Trailhead or from the Gianelli Trailhead: this guide takes you from Gianelli. The lake is anywhere between 3-4 miles from the trailhead. Keep in mind that the elevation from there starts at 8500' and can climb close to the 9000' range.

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It weaves in and out of the forest with openings into vast panoramic views of valleys and mountains. Once you're at the lake, you can pretty much camp anywhere. Ideally, try to camp in previously occupied spots to limit the amount of damage to the terrain.

Take note of the weather - usually you can expect a 5-10 degree difference because the forecast doesn't pull information from Chewing Gum Lake, but from Pinecrest. You can expect snow as late as May and as early as September. Call the ranger station to see what the fire level is: you may be able to start a camp fire if there is no fire danger.

Pack List

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Jet-Boil (or another backpacking stove)
  • Trowel
  • Water Filter
  • Headlamp
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RT Distance 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1000 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

beautiful lake

It is a short easy hike to a beautiful alpine lake but because of this it is very crowded.

Crowded But Big Enough For Everyone

Yes it is crowded almost every weekend after the snow melts but campsites are aplenty near and around the big lake. Beautiful sierra lake that is relatively easy to get to. And it has a great name.

Great trail for beginners and intermediate hikers!

The trail from Gianelli Cabin Trailhead to Chewing Gum Lake is a great trail for both beginner and intermediate hikers and backpackers. The trail is quite clear and there are some good climbs (the trailhead is at about 8580 feet and there are multiple hills, the highest point reaching ~9200 feet). Yes, you'll likely see other people on the trail and it can be somewhat busy on weekends but once you get to Chewing Gum Lake, there aren't as many people because many hikers are heading to Powell Lake which is on the way. There are multiple good campsites around Chewing Gum Lake with fire rings setup.


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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