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Hiking the High Sierra Trail – Junction Meadow to Crabtree Meadow

Upper Kern River

DAY FIVE on the High Sierra Trail

The 9+ mile climb from Junction Meadow to Crabtree is really gorgeous! All five of us hiked together, which was the first day my wife and I had company on our hiking day. It was fun to have one day to hike as a group.

HST Day 5 Details
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 3,795 ft
Dogs: No
When to go: July-Sept.
First, you climb out of the Kern River valley to the north – then turn east, crossing first Wright Creek and then Wallace Creek – both pretty challenging crossings.

It’s a gorgeous hike up the canyon to the East, with the Kaweah’s and the Great Western Divide to the West. It was great to look back and see where we had come from and what we had accomplished over the past 45 miles.

Looking back at the Great Western Divide

Once at Wallace Creek, we immediately saw more people than we had seen in the previous five days, as we were now sharing the HST with the John Muir Trail. The solitude was gone, but it was sort of fun to meet some new people.

Crossing Wallace Creek

From Wallace Creek, you climb up to about 10,900 feet – the highest we had been so far – before descending a bit into the Crabtree Meadow and Crabtree Ranger Station area. We even passed a man-made rock marker that said “200” – denoting mile 200 of the JMT.

Southbound JMT hikers are close to the end of their journey

Crabtree is a huge meadow – known to be a major camping spot for thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Of course, being mid-July most of the PCTers were long gone – but there still ended up being about twelve tents there by dark. There’s a beautiful creek that runs past it – and because we arrived early, it was a great place to hang out.

Entrance to Crabtree

Most hikers on the High Sierra Trail will go on to Guitar Lake, and then summit Whitney the next day. We decided to turn what could be a six-day trip into an eight-day trip by relaxing at Crabtree all afternoon and following up with another easy day to Guitar Lake the next day. My wife and I love “camping” – so we felt no reason to rush over the Eastern Sierra with all this beauty surrounding us and a Saturday-to-Saturday schedule. We had hiked hard the first three days on a six-day completion schedule so we could ‘earn’ these wonderful camping days – and now we were enjoying the payoff!

Crabtree Creek

We lunched by the creek with some JMTers and then walked up to the Crabtree Ranger Station to introduce ourselves to the ranger. Nice guy again – everyone in Sequoia NP is great!

Crabtree Meadow

We crashed early after dark and didn’t hurry the next morning as we only had about three miles and change to Guitar Lake for another easy day with rest before climbing Mt Whitney.

High Sierra Trail:  Junction Meadow to Crabtree Meadow
Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: HST Day 5 of 8 (7:13:16, 9:03:20AM).gpx

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