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Backpacking the North/South Lake Loop: Little Pete Meadow to Upper Dusy Basin

Lower Dusy Basin panorama

Lower Dusy Basin panorama

DAY FIVE on the North Lake/South Lake Loop

For our fifth day on the trail we had a very short hiking day up to Upper Dusy Basin. We also knew it would be a pretty good 2,500 foot ascent over a pretty short distance.

Bishop Loop Day 5 Details
Distance: 6.3 miles
Time: 4-7 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Gain/Loss: +2,571’/-115′
Dogs: No
When to go: Late July-Early October
We didn’t know a lot about Dusy Basin or what it would look like – but boy were we happily surprised – it’s absolutely beautiful!

From the Le Conte Canyon Ranger Station trail junction, the switchbacks head straight up the mountain to the east.  There are two long sets of steep switchbacks with a sort of semi-flat section in the middle of the canyon.  The first section is in the trees and the second section is much more exposed.  The trail is extremely well engineered, with lots and lots of granite steps.

This is the eastern edge of Kings Canyon National Park – and its beauty and trail building are consistent with the rest of this majestic park.  The second set of switchbacks crosses over a waterfall with a small wooden footbridge – certainly the coolest landmark on the ascent!

Finally you top out at a series of small streams and tarns at the western edge of Lower Dusy Basin at about 10,700 feet.  The views to the north, east and south as you look east are absolutely breathtaking.  In the distance you can see the four peaks that make up the Palisades and Bishop pass to the north.  The high country green grasses and water that are a function of this epic winter snowfall turned Dusy Basin into a paradise!

Lower Dusy Basin

As it was a short day, I thought it would be great to go up as far as we could into Upper Dusy Basin to the last tarns / water sources so that we could be right at the base of Bishop Pass for the morning.  This turned out to be a great idea.

Off the trail about two to three hundred yards to the south were some beautiful tarns and streams at about 11,200 feet that made the perfect campsite for our last night.  Mark and Brian even found a little granite ‘island’ to camp on.

Campsite in Upper Dusy Basin

We took some amazing photos, pitched camp, had dinner, and then bundled up as it got really cold at high altitude again.  The close up views of the Palisades – Mt. Agassiz (13,893′), Mt. Winchell (13,775′), Thunderbolt Peak (14,003′) and North Palisade (14,242′) – were absolutely breathtaking!  It was like you could just reach out and touch them!  Any time you get to be that close to California’s 14ers it’s a good day!

The Palisades, as seen from Dusy Basin

It was our last night in Kings Canyon National Park and our last night in the Sierra – happy and sad. Tomorrow we would hike over Bishop Pass and out to the South Lake trailhead.

Little Pete Meadow to Upper Dusy Basin Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: NL-SL-Loop-Day-5.gpx


Originally hiked Thursday, August 24, 2017.

Continue to Day Six: Upper Dusy Basin to South Lake


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