BACKPACKING TO HUNGRY PACKER & BABOON LAKES IN JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS

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SUMMARY

TRIP · 3-day backpacking trip
FOR · Friends & experienced backpackers
DISTANCE · 16
 miles with ~3,270 feet of elevation gain

VIBE · Hard & rewarding

COST · $
DRIVE · 4.5 hours from LA

PERMITS · Yes! Reserve a Sabrina Lake Trailhead permit.
IDEAL DATES · July - September, to avoid snow on the trail
PETS · Welcome on trails & campsites

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DESIGNED BY

KENDRA COBOURN

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WHO AM I

I'm the founder of Somewhere Outside! We plan custom backpacking and camping trips like this one throughout California.

WHY I LOVE THE WILD

A backcountry sky full of stars, a sleepy eyed mountain sunrise and the murmur of a few people I love over the low rumble of a Jetboil breakfast are the most healing things I know. The wild is where I leave behind life’s constant stressors and find the unhurried moments that make me feel like ME, help me find perspective and feel a deep aliveness. We only get to meet a moment once and out here I find I meet each of them with a little more intention.

Hungry Packer Lake is tucked away in John Muir Wilderness, a 100-mile stretch along the Sierra Crest in Inyo National Forest

The name "Inyo" derives from a Native American word meaning "dwelling place of the great spirit."

WHY HUNGRY PACKER & BABOON LAKES?

Hungry Packer and Baboon Lakes are two exceptionally beautiful and lesser known alpine lakes tucked into John Muir Wilderness in Inyo National Forest, located just outside the town of Bishop along the 395. In one short trip this backpacking route crosses through striking alpine meadows in glacial basins, past endless crystal clear lakes with quirky names and finishes each day at a campsite with 13,000+ foot granite peak backdrop along the Sierra Crest. The deeper into the mountains you climb, the more stunning the terrain becomes. 

· Directions to Trailhead

· Official Forest Service Website

· Latest Forest Service Alerts 

STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW

Permits are required for all overnight trips in John Muir Wilderness. For summer 2022, all reservations will be available for advance booking on recreation.gov. 60% of permits are released at 7 AM PT 6 months in advance and 40% of permits are released at 7 AM PT two weeks in advance. Permits cost $6 per reservation plus $5 per person. The entry point of Sabrina Lake has 25 permits allocated per day during quota season (May 1 - November 1). Permits tend to go quickly so do your best to book 6 months in advance! This means booking permits in January 2022 for a trip in July 2022, February 2022 for a trip in August 2022 or March 2022 for a trip in September 2022.

🚗

There is no overnight parking allowed at the trailhead (day use only), so vehicles staying overnight must park on the road before Sabrina Campground. The trailhead is located at the northeast corner of Sabrina Lake, along the left hand side of the road as you approach the lake.

💩

There is a bathroom available at Sabrina Campground but no bathroom at the trailhead. There are no bear lockers or garbage disposal available at the trailhead.

🐻

Black bears are active in this area so food storage is mandatory. Using a bear canister or hang your food 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet from a tree trunk are recommended. All attractants (food, toiletries, trash - anything with a scent) should be stored in your canister or hung at all times, not just overnight! 

⛰️

The majority of this route is above 10,000 feet in elevation and if not acclimated terrain at this elevation will feel quite difficult. To reduce the risk of altitude sickness, book a night at a nearby campground and spend the night before the trip acclimating. Sabrina Campground and North Lake Campground are both close to the trailhead. While on trail stay well hydrated, move slowly, break frequently and avoid overexertion. If you feel altitude sickness symptoms occur, descend to a lower elevation as soon as possible.

💧

There are plenty of water sources available on this route. Plan to refill water where needed in the many lakes and creeks including Sabrina Lake, Blue Lake, Dingleberry Lake, Topsy Turvy Lake, Sailor Lake, Hungry Packer Lake, Baboon Lakes or Middle Fork Bishop Creek. Carry a lightweight water filter to treat water and protect against parasites and bacteria that can live in water sources

 

ITINERARY

DAY ONE
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LEAVE LA BY 7 AM & DRIVE TO SABRINA LAKE TRAILHEAD

Take Sabrina Basin Trail from trailhead all the way to beautiful Blue Lake. At Blue Lake there is a signed junction for Donkey Lake or Dingleberry Lake (I wasn’t joking about the quirky lake names!), take a right to head toward Dingleberry Lake. Continue on the Sabrina Lake Trail all the way to Hungry Packer Lake.

 

- The landscape is jaw-dropping. Picture Peak appears to rise right out of the bright blue waters and the mirror reflection of this peak in the mornings is unbeatable!!

ARRIVE EARLY AT HUNGRY PACKER  TO HAVE THE BEST PICK OF CAMPSITES!

- As you approach the lake you will notice a few campsites where the trail ends close to the outlet of Hungry Packer Lake. Most of these sites are too close to the lake’s shore to be legitimate sites even though they are well-worn.

 

- I recommend scrambling along the northern shore to the granite inlet to set up camp with an unobstructed view of the lake and Picture Peak.

IF YOU'RE FEELING AMBITIOUS, ADD A VISIT TO MIDNIGHT LAKE

- The trek to Midnight Lake only adds one mile roundtrip

- It's a stunning side trip, well worth the additional mile 

- Bring water shoes for Middle Fork Bishop Creek crossings if heading out in the early season.

COOK UP DINNER & SETTLE IN
- YAY! Soak up the stars & alpine lake views

- Enjoy your first sunset at Hungry Packer Lake


CAR TO CAMP · 6.8 miles, 2,234 feet of elevation, ~4 hours

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DAY TWO
EAT BREKKIE, PACK UP & HIKE TO BABOON LAKES

- Retrace your route back to the junction at Blue Lake and turn right to head up Donkey Lake Trail. This is a lesser taken trail that leads up to Donkey and Baboon Lakes.

 

- Turn onto Baboon Lake Trail almost immediately after hopping onto Donkey Lake Trail. The trail up to Baboon Lakes is only an additional mile from here but it is a strenuous and steep climb which starts of well marked but slowly becomes faint and hard to follow.

- The final half mile requires you to pick your way up steep terrain following a series of sporadic cairns. Use a pre-downloaded GPS map to avoid losing your way here! After ascending to the top of the ridge you’ll be rewarding with long views of the basin that are well worth the tough climb.
 

FIND A CAMPSITE ABOVE THE LAKESHORE

- The largest and most commonly used campsites are tucked into the area where the trail leads down from the ridge along the northern shore of the lake. These sites can be found a couple hundred feet up from the granite shoreline of the lake and are well protected from wind. There are additional sites found along the eastern shore of the lake. Cross the Baboon Lakes outlet to find a small clearing or granite site on the less-travelled side of the lake.

TAKE A SIDE TOUR THROUGH THE UPPER LAKES OR EXPLORE SUNSET LAKE

- The trek to Baboon Lakes only takes a few hours so spend the remainder of the day exploring the upper lakes or taking a cross-country journey to remote Sunset Lake.

CLEAN UP & COOK UP DINNER AT CAMP

- Savor your last night in Inyo National Forest!

CAMP TO CAMP · 4.5 miles, 853 feet of elevation gain, ~3 hours

DAY THREE
COOK UP BREAKFAST, PACK UP & RETURN TO SABRINA LAKE TRAILHEAD
- Retrace your steps down to the junction at Blue Lake and continue down the Sabrina Basin trail to the trailhead.

PACK UP THE CAR & HEAD HOME!
 
CAMP TO CAR · 4.7 miles, 183 feet of elevation gain, ~2.5 hours
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GEAR

ESSENTIALS
CLOTHING
ACCESSORIES
 
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PAY IT FORWARD LIKE BEZZI

Your outdoor experiences helps people have a safe & memorable time in nature. Share your knowledge about Inyo National Forest below & tag us @bewilder_camp if you used this itinerary!

LAST UPDATED: January 4, 2022

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DAY ONE

Dinner

DOTTIE'S CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS

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Dessert

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE

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FOOD

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