Backpack Lower & Upper Relief Valleys and the East Flange Rock

Rate this Adventure Huckleberry Trailhead - Kennedy Meadows, Pinecrest, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Survival, Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    21.6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    3600 Feet

Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

Lower and Upper Relief valleys are fantastic gateways into the Emigrant Wilderness aka "Yosemite's Backcountry", with beautiful alpine lakes and access to several peaks like Granite Dome and the prominent East Flange Rock.

The Lower and Upper Relief Valleys are beautiful alpine valleys cut by Relief Creek in the heart of the Emigrant Wilderness and are an excellent alternative to Yosemite National Park if you're looking for solitude and no crowds. The East Flange Rock juts prominently over Lower Relief and is an easy scramble up and around the ridgeline from Upper Relief Valley.

To get there, take the Huckleberry Trail out of the Kennedy Meadows Resort off Highway 108 near Sonora Pass. Watching out for packhorses and mules carrying gear for "Glampers" heading to Kennedy Lake; follow signs for Relief Reservoir / Valleys.

Do not take the turnoff left towards Kennedy Lake.

At 3.8 miles, take a right turn towards the Relief Valleys. A left will take you towards Saucer Meadow/Sheep Camp/Lunch Meadow/Emigrant Meadow. You'll quickly drop down to ford/cross Summit Creek (Relief Creek empties into Summit Creek farther upstream). From here it's 4.4 miles through Lower Relief Valley up to Upper Relief Valley. There are several waterfalls along the way and even into June you can still find snow in shady areas / northern aspects.

From the Upper Relief Valley you can either head due east and ford the stream to scramble to the summit of Granite Dome or you can head due west up through talus and scree to the top of the west ridgeline overlooking the valley, and then follow it across several unnamed peaks around to the summit at 9840' overlooking the East Flange Rock (which is not the actual summit).

From the ridgeline you have views of the entire Emigrant Wilderness, including Granite Dome due east, Relief and Kennedy's peaks to the northeast, and the Yosemite Wilderness to the south and southeast.

Many campsites can be found in either valley.

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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Josiah Roe Admin

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. - John Muir

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