• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking, Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    25 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    5000 Feet

Adult Beverages
Forest
Groups
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole

Like the name says, Granite Dome is a massive conglomeration of granite in the heart of the Emigrant Wilderness with numerous routes, epic views, and gorgeous alpine lakes to explore, all of which are off-trail (eventually) but accessible to even a novice, multi-day backpacker.

Granite Dome is the signature peak in the Emigrant Wilderness, with fantastic views north to the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, east to the Hoover Wilderness (Sawtooth Ridge), and south to Yosemite including, on a clear day, Cathedral Peak and the Cathedral Range.

There are several routes up Granite Dome, all of which eventually lead offtrail and require minor wayfinding, as it's easy to reach a dead-end as Granite Dome is a massive conglomeration, a vmaze of rock, streams, and alpine lakes making it a playground for lovers of wild places.

The route via Lower & Upper Lewis Lakes and the drainage begins in Kennedy Meadows off 108 near Sonora Pass. Take the Huckleberry Trail towards Relief Resevoir, watching out for packs of horses and mules carrying gear for "Glampers" heading to Kennedy Lake.

Do not take the trail towards Kennedy Lake!

After 3.8 miles you'll take a left (right takes you towards the Relief Valleys) on the Huckleberry Trail towards Saucer Meadow/Sheep Camp/Lunch Meadow/Emigrant Meadow.

The trail proceeds slightly above and to the north of Summit Creek. Eventually you will have to head south across the creek and follow the drainage up to Lower Lewis Lake. You'll want to stay to the west of the drainage, as when you reach the "end" of the drainage, you'll see (and hear) where it drops several hundred feet out of the granite, above which is Lower Lewis Lake. Head up the granite to the right (west) and you'll drop down onto Lower Lewis Lake.

This is a great place to camp, with a ridiculous, 500' granite face in front of you.

Next you'll north and the west up the granite slabs towards Sardella Lake. Aim for the gap between the two peaks above you. Once you gain the gap, you'll have epic views of Sardella Lake, Iceland Lake, and Ridge Lake. Head SE towards the west side of Upper Lewis Lake and continue to follow the drainage above and on the SW side of Upper Lewis lake, towards the obvious "slot", which even late in the season can have snow in it.

Eventually you'll make the "top" of Granite Dome, which strangely, doesn't have much granite on it! Follow the ridgeline up and down several hills and false summits, through meadows, massive boulders and Joshua Tree-like columns and pillars till you find the summit and it's weird stagnant pools.

Enjoy the views, sign the register, and have a snack.

More adventurous folks can camp elsewhere on the Dome, exploring Iceland, Sardella, or Ridge Lake, taking an alternate route down to Upper Relief valley and following the trail back to Kennedy Meadows.

Pack List

Emigrant Wilderness Permit: http://www.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus/Topographic map of the areaFoodTent / Bivy SackSleeping Bag appropriate to seasonSleeping padWater / Water FiltrationClothes appropriate to the season (can get cold at night even in summer)2X HeadlightsComfy hiking boots / trail shoesSunscreenMosquito repellant in spring/early summer

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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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