Trail Conditions 2019

With the deep snows of winter still lingering, I have been spending my backpacking time on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, which generally follows the ridge lines around the San Francisco Bay. There are 375 miles completed of an eventual 550 or so, and I’ve done about 64%.

My first trip to the Granite Chief will be July 15, and I’ll have some information on trail conditions at the end of that trip. The best source of trail conditions I could find is the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s Current Trail Conditions page. Though the TRT only edges the Granite Chief Wilderness, the elevations are similar and trail conditions might therefore be similar.

If you, dear readers, have anything to report, please either comment on this post or send me an email ( Since I’m out backpacking elsewhere, I might not get to posting for you for a few days, so better to comment directly, but whatever works for you works for me.

Good travels!

16 thoughts on “Trail Conditions 2019

  1. Pingback: Trail Conditions 2019 Update | Granite Chief Wilderness

  2. Dan Allison Post author

    from Alpine Meadows TH: Five Lakes Trail good condition; Squaw Saddle trail good condition; PCT Five Lakes jct to Whiskey Creek jct good condition, one small tree; Whiskey Creek trail good condition except one 18 inch tree at beginning, Whiskey Creek calf deep wade.

    Last ‘from the field’ post. Will summarize when back home.

  3. Dan Allison Post author

    Powderhorn Trail: about 25 trees down, most small but on medium and two large; two might not be passible for horses. A lot of winter debris on the trail. All watercourses flowing. Snow from boundary up to ridge 40%, trail can be followed with a close eye.

  4. Dan Allison Post author

    Hell Hole Tr: from Diamond to Buckeye, didn’t go further; many down trees but all easy; tread good; hard to follow Diamond to Five Lakes Creek crossing; downfall tangle past Buckeye trail easy to lose.

  5. Dan Allison Post author

    Western States Trail (Picayne): overall good condition; a few medium trees, one large, several small; tangle of downed trees just below ridge is cleared; some snow patches. Crossing of Talbot rock hop or log. Crossing of Middle Fork, knee deep wade with poles for stability, or logs down below, rock hop not possible yet.

    1. Dan Allison Post author

      Five Lakes Creek Trail: about 30 down tree, all but one large easy to step over or go around. Crossing Five Lakes Creek, knee deep wade in moderately fast water; Bear Pen Creek, shallow wade; no rock hop for either yet. Moderate winter debris on the trail.

  6. Dan Allison Post author

    Tevis Cup Trail: some snow at beginning and in trees west of old boundary. Several muddy areas and water running on trail, a few erosion problems. West part from old boundary rerouted and now a trail rather than logging roads.

  7. Dan Allison Post author

    PCT Granite Chief Trail to Granite Chief saddle: 20% snow coverage overall, but complete up the north side of saddle. Thru hikers have beat out a reasonable route. Steep north slope requires snow spikes, or tedious step kicking.

  8. Dan Allison Post author

    It is a two mile walk from the bus stop at Alpine Meadows Rd and Hwy 89 to the Alpine Meadows trailhead. It is Squaw Valley that has the bus stop at the trailhead. Sorry if my words were not clear.

  9. Graeme Ward

    After reading your blog, I’ve decided to take the family on a 3night/4 day backpacking trip through the GCW! Less crowded than Desolation. We’ll most likely hit the trail on July 19 or 20th. Was planning on Squaw Valley across to Hell Hole (Wife and I did Hell Hole 16yrs ago, before kids); approx 30miles in total. Keep up the great work.

    Any advise for overnight parking in the Squaw area? Or is Alpine a better option?


    1. Dan Allison Post author

      I would imagine that the Granite Chief and PCT trails (if that is what you meant by Squaw Valley) will have spots of deep snow on the east face of the PCT, and going up to the Granite Chief saddle, but most of the rest will just be patchy. But that is a guess! Alpine Meadows trailhead will have less snow, perhaps none. I don’t know where you would park at Squaw, since I get there on transit. At Alpine, there is an informal parking area along the road above and below the trailhead.

      The Hell Hole Trail has not been maintained in many years. From the junction in the Diamond Crossing area down to Five Lakes Creek, you will lose the trail, but just keep going and you’ll get there. Five Lakes Creek will probably be flowing very well and very wide, so a wet feet crossing. From there, it is easy to follow as far as Buckeye Creek, but then gets moderately difficult, a lot of downfall on the trail. From Steamboat Creek down to the reservoir, you have a choice of (at least) three cairned and ducked routes down the gully, none of which will seem good. At the bottom, if you head downstream along the lakeshore, the trail can be found but not easily. Upstream, a few sections are easy to find, but there are also sections where I’ve never been able to find the trail. I did some light trail work on this trail last year, so it is not quite as hard to find, but don’t expect easy.

      I am going into Hell Hole on July 15, but it is uncertain whether I’ll be out to Internet access to post any information before your planned trip. If you want to send me ( your cell phone number, I could perhaps text you, since texting requires much less bandwidth than posting or email.

      1. Graeme Ward

        Thanks so much. We’ll be heading out from Alpine Meadows on the 5 Lakes Trailhead and will now be taking transit, to get their! (Thanks for the tip). I appreciate the Text offer. I’ll forward details shortly.
        Perhaps we’ll see you on the trail.


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