Total Length: 1648.0 Miles
The long walk across California from Northwest to Southeast is anchored by the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail but takes several significant detours. In the north the route leaves the PCT soon after crossing the state line from Oregon in order to hike a wilderness route east to the coast. There is a ‘Coast to Crest’ route that is partially established, using the historic Kelsey Trail, one of the oldest trails in the state. Lacking route information on the Coast to Crest route, the Fifty Trail sticks with the Kelsey Trail as much as possible. This is a mule trail, originally built in 1855, that runs between Ft. Jones, east of the PCT, and Crescent City on the Pacific Ocean. From Crescent City, the trail heads south following a portion of the Coastal Trail to Redwood National Park, and then meanders among the giants on the trails of that park. The return to the PCT is via some roads and/or the Salmon Summit National Recreation Trail.
In the vicinity of Lake Tahoe the trail again departs from the PCT, taking the long way around Lake Tahoe to its east via the Tahoe Rim Trial, passing through this footpath-connected and scenic part of the state of Nevada.
At Yosemite National Park the route does not remain aloof in the High Sierra as the PCT does, but takes the hiker down to the Yosemite Valley via the John Muir Trail and through Yosemite Valley, then following the popular trail up to Glacier Point before striking southward to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Farther south the Fifty Trail departs from the John Muir-PCT Trails to encounter the best of many more groves of Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park. Then it’s back to the John Muir Trail to pass Mount Whitney, allowing the 1.9 mile side trip (with just 1000 feet of additional elevation gain) to summit the highest peak in the ‘Lower 48’ before descending to the Whitney Portal on the east side of the Sierra.
Next there’s the Death Valley Traverse. This is the most recognizable part of the proposed ‘Desert Trail’, which traverses the nation from Mexico to Canada in the dry regions between the Sierra and Coast Ranges and the Rockies. The Fifty Trail joins the Death Valley Traverse at the Racetrack and follows it south along the southern half of this 200+ mile route, passing the good stuff: Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, and Badwater—the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere.
Leaving Death Valley at CA Highway 178, the Fifty Trail picks up the Old Spanish National Historic Trail near Tecopa Hot Springs and follows it into Nevada near Pahrump.
MAPS and TRAIL GUIDES:
Pacific Crest Trail Maps and Guides: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/maps/
South Kelsey Trail, Northeastern California: http://smithriveralliance.org/kelsey-trail/
South Kelsey Trail historic info and hike info: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3815005.pdf
South Kelsey Trail USFS page – note remarks about lack of maintenance and tough fords: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/srnf/recarea/?recid=11466
Kelsey National Recreation Trail east of the PCT to Fort Jones: Originally the trail ran from the Pacific Coast at Crescent City to Fort Jones: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/klamath/recarea/?recid=13161
More good stuff on the newly opened section of Kelsey Trail near Crescent City: http://www.triplicate.com/csp/mediapool/sites/Triplicate/News/story.csp?cid=4373432&sid=923&fid=151
Desert Trail information: http://bucktrack.com/Desert_Trail_Thru-Hike.html
Death Valley Traverse: https://www.backpacker.com/trips/death-valley-national-park-death-valley-traverse
John Muir Trail: https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/
Klamath National Forest trail map, for the northern California connection from the PCT to the Coastal Trail: http://www.nationalforestmapstore.com/product-p/ca-76.htm
Coastal Trail – sections needed are Del Norte County and Humboldt North: http://californiacoastaltrail.info/hikers/hikers_main.php
Tahoe Rim Trail maps and information: https://tahoerimtrail.org/maps-trail-info/
National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps (available from a number of major sellers): Map numbers 218 (Redwood Parks), 803 (Lake Tahoe Basin), 322 (Mount Whitney), 206 (Yosemite), 221 (Death Valley), and 205 (Sequoia, Kings Canyon) are especially helpful to follow the sections of California Fifty Trail that digress from the Pacific Crest Trail. NatGeo also has maps that cover the High Sierra PCT and John Muir Trail routes. Here is a link to their master index map covering all of North America: http://ngmaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Embed/index.html?webmap=e81165b1d87b44b58ac2f746a11634d2&home=true&zoom=true&scale=false&search=true&theme=light
HEART OF THE TRAIL:
|Yosemite Valley, classic view from 1964|
Highlighting the most distinctive parts of Yosemite National Park. Start where the John Muir Trail separates from the PCT in Lower Tuolumne Meadows and proceed west to Yosemite Valley, then down (west along) the south side of the valley floor to the Four Mile Trailhead, up the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point and onto the Pohono Trail to McGuirk Meadow Trail to Glacier Point Road, cross the road and follow Alder Creek Trail to the village of Wawona, almost exactly 50 miles total. From Wawona be sure to visit the nearby Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
4,298.2 – Trail register at California-Oregon state line. PCT mile 1691.7. Beginning of California Segment. Continue Southwestward on Pacific Crest Trail.
4,348.2 – PCT mile 1641.7. Camp site at the end of Forest Road 45N72X 0.8 mile after crossing Grider Creek for the third time and heading up a major tributary in Cliff Valley. Here begins an optional road walk alternative to Kelsey National Recreation Trail, which may require some route finding. To take this 19.7 mile road route to pick up the Kelsey Trail at Elk Creek, jct of 16N05 and 15N08 refer to the Klamath National Forest map sheet. Leave the PCT making a nearly 180 degree right turn, and follow winding road up to crossroads to the top of Grider Ridge. Cross the road following the ridge, and pick up 45N19 that descends west side of the ridge. Follow this to its end at Elk Creek, bear sharp left at 16N05 and follow it southward past where Kelsey Trail joins the road coming off a bridge over Elk Creek then bear right onto 15N08, leaving Elk Creek and beginning to climb (see next entry)
4359.3 – (adding 11.1 miles to previous entry). See Half-Mile’s PCT map, California section Q page 5, which shows the route of the Kelsey National Recreation Trail. PCT mile 1630.6, Turk Lake Trail junction at a high saddle on Big Ridge. Trail to Turk Lake drops down to the east. The Kelsey Trail drops down toward Bear Lake and follows Bear Creek. Trail may not be marked and may be little used, but it is the old cut of the original 1850’s road and is still an official National Recreation Trail. Follow the trail down Bear Creek past the Bear Creek Trailhead, past the Norcross Trailhead and campsite where Bear Creek feeds into Elk Creek. Follow the trail along the east bank of Elk Creek past the Sulphur Springs Campground, staying with the stream valley until the trail/road crosses a bridge and joins forest road 16N05. Turn left on 16N05 and soon bear right onto 15N08, leaving Elk Creek and beginning to climb. Distance from Turk Lake Trail Junction to here is about 12.5 miles.
4371.8 – (adding 12.5 miles) Follow 15N08 then 15N13 for 5.8 miles to a junction of multiple minor roads. Turn sharp right to follow the little-used right-most of the choices, ascending to a ridge above the road just walked (15N13). This road is unused, labeled 15N07 on the Klamath National Forest map, probably the original route of the Kelsey Trail, winding generally westward, coming out at 15N10 after about 1.6 miles.
4373.4 – (adding 1.6 miles) At forest road 15N10 turn left and follow it 0.7 miles, continuing onto 15N17 that joins from the left. Continue for 5.0 miles to California Highway 96.
4379.1 – (adding 5.7 miles) Turn right on California Hwy. 96. Follow it for 3.7 miles, left on 15N19, go 1.6 miles, turn right to stay on 15N19, continue for 1.4 miles. Turn right to again stay on 15N19, go 3.0 miles. Turn right yet again to stay on 15N19 and go for 5.0 more miles. Take side road to right 300 feet to the Elbow Spring trailhead.
4393.9 – (adding 14.8 miles). South Kelsey National Recreation Trail becomes a footpath here. May not be well maintained. Trail climbs up onto a ridge that runs east-west and continues for 12.0 miles to Herrington Lake.
4405.9 – (adding 12.0 miles) Herrington Lake. Use the NatGeo Trails Illustrated map number 218 (Redwood National and State Parks). Trail here passes the small lake at the intersection with the Boundary Trail, climbs to another ridge and continues generally westward.
4407.9 – (add 2.0) side trail to Bear Wallow Shelter. Continue along ridge over Baldy Peak then westward, steadily descending to Herrington Creek.
4413.8 – (add 5.9) Junction with Gunbarrel Trail (1.3 miles to trailhead). Ford Herrington Creek, which may be problematical early in the season. Follow the Smith River valley downstream, with another significant ford of Eightmile Creek.
4418.5 – (add 4.7) Junction with Summit Valley Trail. Continue along Smith River on Kelsey Trail.
4420.2 – (add 1.7) Buck Creek campground, continue on Kelsey Trail.
4421.4 – ( add 1.2) Junction with McClendon Ford Trail, which continues along river. Turn left and climb toward the South Kelsey Trailhead.
4421.7 – (add 0.3) South Kelsey/McClendon Ford Trailhead. Follow roads for 6.3 miles to Big Flat Campground as follows: Head out on 15N39 generally southwest for 1.7 miles. Turn left to stay on 15N39, go 0.4 more miles. Turn right onto G-O road, go 3.5 miles. After crossing the Smith River, turn right onto South Fork Road, go 0.4 miles. Turn left onto French Hill Road, go 0.2 miles to left turn into entrance to Big Flat Campground with Trailhead parking 0.1 mile in.
4428.0 – (add 6.3) Big Flat Campground trailhead. Follow Kelsey Trail northward along Hurdygurdy Creek, eventually fording it and then climbing to Hardin Mountain Road.
4430.8 – (add 2.8) Hardin Mountain Road (15N11). Cross road and turn westward on Kelsey Trail, dropping down to follow Cant Hook Creek through some old growth Douglas Fir and giant Port Orford Cedars.
4434.1 – (add 3.3) emerge at South Fork Road and proceed on road a short distance to cross a stream then drop down toward the river on trail in the woods again to follow trail along the Smith River.
4435.6 – (add 1.5) Boulder Creek Traihead. End of this new section of the Kelsey Trail. Short road walk of about 1.8 miles northwestward on South Fork Road.
4437.4 – (add 1.8) Sand Camp Trailhead on right. Paradise Trail leaves the road on the left and climbs via switchbacks to ridge.
4438.5 – (add 1.1) Junction with Little Bald Hills non-motorized multi-use trail. Turn right and follow trail generally northwestward.
4442.1 – (add 3.6) State Park boundary, leave Six Rivers National Forest. Continue on Little Bald Hills Trail.
4446.8 – (add 4.7) Howland Hill Road, parking area. Cross Road and join Hiouchi Trail following the Smith River westward.
4447.5 – (add 0.7) Cross Mill Creek on footbridge to Trail junction and summer floating footbridge over Smith River. Turn left away from river onto Mill Creek Trail. Follow Mill Creek Trail for 3.0 miles crossing Howland Hill road three times and continuing on Nickerson Ranch Trail another 1.6 miles to its end at Howland Mill Road.
4451.1 – (add 4.6) Howland Mill Road, begin of road walk of about 1.6 miles.
4453.7 – (add 1.6) Junction with gated side road on left leading to Howland Hill Outdoor School. Turn left and follow this road 0.4 miles to trail crossing.
4454.1 – (add 0.4) Turn right off road to get on Rellim Ridge Trail, proceed south on this trail.
4456.5 – (add 2.4) Junction with Mill Creek Horse Trail. Stay right and continue on Rellim Ridge Trail.
4457.8 – (add 1.3) Hamilton Road, parking area and seasonal gate, end of Rellim Ridge Trail. Turn right on Hamilton Road (westward) and begin 2.2 mile Road Walk to Crescent Beach Picnic Area as follows: West 0.3 miles on Hamilton Road to busy US 101. Right on 101, go 1.2 miles to sharp left onto Enderts Beach Road. Proceed south 0.7 miles to the access road to Crescent Beach. Turn left and follow that road 0.1 miles to the start of the Crescent Beach Trail. Trail proceeds southeastward 0.1 mile, back across Enderts Beach Road, continuing for 0.1 mile to a trail junction.
4460.2 – (add 2.4) Turn right (south) on Crescent Beach Trail. Proceed for 1.5 miles.
4461.7 – (add 1.5 miles) End of Enderts Beach Road at Crescent Beach Overlook. Continue south on Coastal Trail passing Nickel Creek campsites after half a mile.
4467.9 – (add 6.2) Trail junction, Damnation Creek Trail. Beach 1.1 miles west, trailhead at Hwy 101 0.7 miles east. Continue straight ahead southward on Coastal Trail.
4468.9 – (add 1.0) Cross US 101, possibly jogging northward a short distance to continue on Coastal Trail southbound now on the east side of the highway.
4471.8 – (add 2.9) DeMartin camp sites. Continue on Coastal Trail.
4475.0 – (add 3.2) Wilson Creek picnic area. Continue on Coastal Trail.
4475.6 – (add 0.6) Lagoon Creek Trailhead, take Yurok Loop Trail—the option closer to the coast, then rejoin Coastal Trail after 0.4 miles.
4476.6 – (add 1.0) Hidden Beach, with side trail out to the highway. Continue on Coastal Trail
4479.3 – (add 2.7) Klamath River overlook trailhead. Coastal Trail is interrupted here by the Klamath River. Begin road walk on Requa Road
4481.6 – (add 2.3) Turn right onto US 101 southbound and cross the Klamath River
4485.0 – (add 3.4) Take exit onto Klamath Beach Road, left at end of ramp, head west
4486.9 – (add 1.9) Flint Ridge Trailhead, which is right beyond the old bridge site and Coastal Drive/Alder Camp Road intersection. Coastal Trail resumes, skirts wetland then climbs 800 feet to Flint Ridge
4490.9 – (add 4.0) Coastal Dr. near Flint Ridge Campground. Trail route turns south on Coastal Drive.
4492.0 – (add 1.1) Three-way intersection. Trail continues along coast on Coastal Drive which should be gated and closed to vehicles for the next 3 miles
4495.6 – (add 3.6) Leave road, turn west onto Coastal Trail/Carruthers Cove Trail
4498.1 – (add 2.5) Ossagon Trail Jct. Continue on Coastal Trail
4498.4 – (add 0.3) West Ridge Trail Junction. Continue on Coastal trail along base of the hills or walk the wide beach
4500.7 – (add 2.3) Trail junction at Home Creek, continue along Coastal Trail.
4500.9 – (add 0.2) Fern Canyon Trailhead and picnic area. Trail here is on the beach for 3.3 miles passing Gold Bluffs Beach Campground after 1.3 miles. This whole section has a parallel road at the base of the bluffs.
4504.2 – (add 3.3) Davison Road, Espa Lagoon, are immediately inland. Continue to follow Coastal Trail for about a mile past Major Creek, then watch for trail to turn inland and climb at about 41.340661, -124.080112 where it becomes the Skunk Cabbage Trail.
4508.8 – (add 4.6) Skunk Cabbage Trailhead, Robinson Road, 41.307446, -124.056998. Trail ends, begin short road walk. Head north/east on Robinson Road.
4509.5 – (add 0.7) Turn right onto US 101
4509.9 – (add 0.4) Turn left onto Bald Hills Road
4510.3 – (add 0.4) Turn right onto Redwood Creek Trailhead access road.
4510.7 – (add 0.4) Redwood Creek Trailhead. Road ends, join Redwood Creek Trail, crossing a summer-only footbridge after about 1.7 miles.
4513.6 – (add 2.9) Elam Creek campsite, continue along Redwood Creek on Redwood Creek Trail
4518.3 – (add 4.7) 44 Camp just before another summer-only footbridge. Cross Creek and continue on Tall Trees Trail thourhg the Tall Trees Grove.
4520.4 – (add 2.1) Tall Trees Trailhead. Head south on Emerald Ridge Trail.
4521.1 – (add 0.7) Trail Junction. Head west down steep slope on Dolason Prairie Trail.
4525.6 – (add 4.5) After following and then leaving a gated road, climb to Doladon Prairie Trailhead on Bald Hills Road. Leave Redwood National Park and begin a 39.1 mile road walk. Head southeast on Bald Hills Road
4545.7 – (add 20.1) Join Tulley Creek Road after descending to Trinity River. Cross bridge over Trinity River
4546.3 – (add 0.6) Turn right onto California highway 169 eastbound.
4549.9 – (add 3.6) Turn left onto California Highway 96 eastbound.
4564.8 – (add 14.9) At the town of Orleans, just after crossing the bridge over the Klamath River, there is a decision point. To follow the *as-yet-to-be-scouted* backcountry route to the PCT via seldom-used Klamath National Forest Trails, including the Salmon Summit National Recreation Trail, turn right onto Red Cap Road.
SALMON SUMMIT TRAIL route, without detailed directions. This route may require some route-finding, and details are not yet provided. Trails are all marked on the Klamath National Forest Map available from the National Forest online Map Store.
*Follow Red Cap Road to Skelton Butte Road, Forest road 10N01, which follows a ridge line SE. Continue on 10N01 to the Salmon Trailhead.
*Salmon Summit National Recreation Trail. Trail runs generally southeast along a ridge. It is also labeled as trail number 6E03. Reach jct with Trail 12W02. Do not turn south on trail 12W02, which is also marked as Salmon Summit NRT but continue SE on what is now 12W02 and also called Salmon Summit National Recreation Trail. Continue past side trail to High Point Trailhead and latera side trail to Hotelling Trailhead, eventually emerging at Cecil Lake Trailhead.
*From Cecil Lake Trailhead head southeast on 11W02 but turn left at a junction to head north before reaching Cold Spring. Drop down into Ray’s Gulch, this is trail/road 37N07, but it is unclear if/how these trails are marked from Cecil Lake through this short section.
*Reach Garden Gulch Trailhead on road 37N08 and take Garden Gulch Trail, trail 5470, northeastward up Garden Gulch, eventually climbing onto a ridge and passing Onion Meadow.
* at junction with 5471 continue northeast on trail now labeled 5460, then after another junction continue north on 9W16. At yet another junction of trails on a saddle, pick up 5501 above Trail Gulch Lake and drop down to Trail Gulch itself, emerging at Trail Gulch Trailhead on road 39N08.
* Follow Road 39N08 generally east to its end at FR 93, turn right and follow this major road a short way up to Carter Meadows Summit Trailhead on the PCT, mile 1580.1.
Resuming the currently recommended road walk to the PCT at Carter Meadows Summit Trailhead:
4564.8 – (add ZERO) Town of Orleans, bridge over Klamath River. Continue northeastward on CA 96.
4571.4 – (add 6.6) Turn right onto FR 93, Salmon River Road
4588.7 – (add 17.3) Forks of Salmon. Turn right to stay on FR 93, cross both forks of the river and continue southeast on FR 93
4624.4 – (add 35.7) Carter Meadows Summit Trailhead on the PCT, mile 1580.1. Pick up Pacific Crest Trail heading southbound.
5074.8 – (add 450.4) Twin Peaks in Granite Cliff Wilderness. PCT mile 1129.7. North junction of the Pacific Crest Trail with the Tahoe Rim Trail. Turn left to follow Tahoe Rim Trail into this fully connected and spectacular part of Nevada (though this remains part of the California segment).
5086.6 – (add 11.8) Tahoe City. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail.
5106.8 – (add 20.2) Brockway Summit Trailhead. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail with spectacular panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. Cross into Nevada.
5127.1 – (add 20.3) Tahoe Meadows/Mount Rose Trailhead. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail, now heading south.
5150.4 – (add 23.3) Spooner Summit Trailhead. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail.
5168.3 – (add 17.9) Access trail to Kingsbury South campsites. Cross back into California. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail.
5190.9 – (add 22.6) Big Meadow, camping and services. Continue on Tahoe Rim Trail.
5196.5 – (add 5.6) South junction of Tahoe Rim Trail with Pacific Crest Trail at PCT mile 1079.7. Turn left and resume hiking southbound on the PCT.
5332.9 – (add 136.4) Junction of the Pacific Crest Trail with the John Muir Trail at Soda Spring, Tuolumne Meadows, within Yosemite National Park. PCT mile 943.3. Turn right and follow John Muir Trail west (northbound) toward Yosemite Valley.
5355.0 – (add 22.1) End of the John Muir Trail—John Muir/Vernal Falls Trailhead at the floor of Yosemite Valley at Happy Isle Loop Road. Turn left, cross over the Merced River on Happy Isles Bridge and stay left, following trails/walkways westward for 3 miles along the valley floor toward the Four Mile Trailhead.
5358.0 – (add 3.0) Four Mile Trail. Turn left and climb toward Glacier Point.
5362.6 – (add 4.6) Glacier Point. Short side trip to actual overlook. Otherwise (after visiting the overlook, etc.) From where the Four Mile Trail emerges keep to the right to pick up the Pohono Trail toward Sentinel Dome.
5363.8 – (add 1.2) Sentinel Dome Trail—side trail to climb to summit. Stay right following Pohono Trail.
5365.6 – (add 1.8) Side trail exits left, leading 0.5 miles to trailhead. Continue right on Pohono Trail toward Taft Point and The Fissures.
5368.6 – (add 3.0) After footbridge over Bridalveil Creek, reach junction of Pohono Trail with McGuirk Meadow Trail. Pohono Trail goes right/straight. Turn left and follow McGuirk Meadow trail toward the trailhead.
5370.5 – (add 1.9) Glacier Point Road, McGuirk Meadow Trailhead. Cross road and continue south on Trail toward Westfall Meadow and Alder Creek.
5371.2 – (add 0.7) Side trail exits left to Bridalveil Creek Campground. Continue straight toward Westfall Meadow and Alder Creek.
5374.6 – (add 3.4) Jct with Deer Camp Road Trail. Stay right and follow trail WSW.
5375.2 – (add 0.6) Jct with Alder Creek Trail. Stay left, leaving Deer Camp Road Trail and descent to Alser Creek, following it southward.
5376.7 – (add 1.5) Trail junction. Stay right, following Alder Creek Trail downstream toward falls.
5380.8 – (add 4.1) Side trail to Alder Creek Trailhead exits right. Keep left and continue to follow Alder Creek Trail toward Wawona and the Mariposa Grove.
5383.7 – (add 2.9) Chilnualna Falls Road, town of North Wawona. Turn left just before the road and follow town trails northeastward toward the Chilnualna Falls Trailhead. But at this point it is highly recommended to first turn right, cross the South Fork of the Merced River via the 1868 covered bridge to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center and then bear left following trails through town and on for about 7 miles to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. On the return trip toward town, stay to the right as much as possible on the public roads until you come to the Wawona Swinging Bridge, 37.540397, -119.623175. Cross the bridge and follow the left trail downstream to pick up Chilnualna Falls Road again and after crossing Chilnualna Creek, reach the trailhead and turn right onto Chilnualna Falls Trail. Web site for more info on Wawona Swinging Bridge: https://www.yosemitehikes.com/southern-yosemite/swinging-bridge/swinging-bridge.htm
5384.7 – (add 1.0) Chilnualna Falls Trailhead. With or without the side trip to Mariposa Grove, the Fifty Trail continues by following Chilnualna Falls Trail, climbing up to the falls itself.
5389.3 – (add 4.6) Chilualna Falls, and a trail junction just above the falls. From here the route plunges deep into Yosemite Wilderness. The directions are based on the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Yosemite Park Map, number 206. This map is presumed accurate, but the route has not been scouted and the map does not provide trail names. At the trail junction above the falls, stay right, continuing to follow Chilnualna Creek and soon crossing it.
5391.9 – (add 2.6) Trail Junction. Continue eastward, keeping right, following a tributary of Chilnualna Creek eastward passing Grouse Lake, Crescent lake and Johnson Lake.
5396.9 – (add 5.0) Trail Junction. Left fork leads to Buena Vista Pass. Stay right and continue eastward toward Buck Camp ranger station.
5399.5 – (add 2.6) Trail junction. Bear left on trail toward Givens Meadow.
5402.7 – (add 3.2) Trail junction. Left fork goes north to Merced Pass. Take the right fork toward Moraine Meadows and the upper South Fork of the Merced River.
5403.9 – (add 1.2) Trail junction. Right fork crosses the river heading south. Stay on the north side of the river and continue east toward Fernandez Pass.
5406.4 – (add 2.5) Side trail goes right to a small high lake at the head of the cirque. Stay left and climb to Fernandez Pass.
5407.1 – (add 0.7) Fernandez Pass. Continue on trail, which follows the ridge north briefly then descends eastward. Leaving the ridge, the route has also crossed out of Yosemite National Park and into Sierra National Forest. Here the trails are given numeric designations, and the Fifty Trail route follows just two of these. The trail descending off Fernandez Pass is 24E03, also called the California Riding and Hiking Trail, and the Fifty Trail follows that designation to the Fernandez Trailhead and on to Clover Meadow Ranger Station.
5408.6 – (add 1.5) Anne Lake Trail exits left, stay right.
5409.6 – (add 1.0) Post Peak Trail exits left, stay right.
5410.6 – (add 1.0) Informal Trail to Flat Lake exits right, stay left.
5411.6 – (add 1.0) Lilian Lake Trail exits right, stay left.
5413.2 – (add 1.6) Timber Creek and Post Creek Trails exit left, stay right.
5413.3 – (add 0.1) Walton Trail exits left, stay right.
5414.7 – (add 1.4) The other end of the Lilian Lake Trail exits right. Stay left.
5414.9 – (add 0.2) Fernandez Access Trail exits right. Stay Left.
5416.2 – (add 1.3) Frog Meadow Trail exits right. Stay left.
5416.6 – (add 0.4) Fernandez Trailhead on forest road 5S05. Map shows a slight jog to the left on the road for a few feet, crossing road and continuing on Trail 24E03, the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
5417.9 – (add 1.3) Clover Meadow Ranger Station and campground. Follow the access road southeast (downstream along a tributary of Granite Creek.
5418.1 – (add 0.2) Road junction with road 4S60. Turn left to cross over the creek.
5418.2 – (add 0.1) Right after crossing the creek on the road, bear right as road bears left and join trail 26E01, the Mammoth Trail, which the Fifty Trail follows back to the PCT.
5419.1 – (add 0.9) Road and stream crossing. Continue NE on trail.
5419.9 – (add 0.8) Soldier meadow, where a road comes in from the left. Stay right on the trail.
5420.5 – (add 0.6) Indian Meadow. Join road 4S61 and follow it eastward until it turns south.
5420.9 – (add 0.4) Where road 4S61 turns south, continue eastward on trail.
5421.6 – (add 0.7) Mammouth Trailhead. Cross road and follow trail northeastward, entering Ansel Adams Wilderness.
5424.6 – (add 3.0) After crossing the North Fork of the San Joaquin River on a footbridge at Sheeps Crossing, reach junction with the Junction Butte Trail. Turn left to stay on Mammoth Trail 26E01.
5425.7 – (add 1.1) Junction with Snake Meadow trail exiting left. Stay right. Then soon after reach junction with Upper French Trail, which exits right. Stay left here, continuing northeastward.
5427.3 – (add 1.6) Corral Meadow. Iron Creek Trail and Iron Lake Trail exit left. Stay right on Mammoth Trail and climb toward the Granite Stairway.
5431.3 – (add 4.0) Ridge top at Granite Stairway. Cross into a new Ranger District and into Inyo National Forest here. Trail name changes to Summit Meadow Trail and number changes from 26E01 to 2601.
5431.8 – (add 0.5) Summit Meadow. Junction with Lion Point Trail, which exits right. Stay left,heding north
5432.2 – (add 0.4) Junction with Summit Meadow-Holcomb Cutoff Trail, which exits left. Stay right, heading northeast.
5435.5 – (add 3.3) Junction with the Pacific Crest Trail at mile 908.4. Do not follow Pacific Crest Trail (yet). Cross it and remain on Summit Meadow Trail heading toward Devil’s Postpile.
5435.8 – (add 0.3) Trail Junction just before bridge over the San Joaquin River. This is the Devil’s Postpile alternate route for the PCT. Turn right and cross the river and head south on the Devil’s Postpile Trail, passing the namesake formation of columnar basalt, one of the world’s fine examples of this geological oddity, though the Fifty trail will take you to the most spectacular one of these later, in Wyoming.
5436.9 – (add 1.1) Junction of the Devils Postpile alternate route with the Pacific Crest Trail at PCT mile 907.2. Follow the PCT southbound.
5556.8 – (add 119.9) Junction of the PCT with the Cedar Grove Trail (also called Bubbs Creek Trail) to Roads End. PCT mile 787.3. Leave the PCT, turn right onto the Cedar Grove Trail, heading west.
5559.1 – (add 2.3) Junction Meadow. Trail to East Lake exits left, heading south. Continue straight (westward) on Cedar Grove Trail. For this extensive digression off the PCT to visit the major Sequoia tree groves, the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map number 205 (Sequoia-Kings Canyon) is essential.
5565.4 – (add 6.3) Junction with Avalanche Pass Trail, which exits left, crossing Bubbs Creek and follows Sphinx Creek. Turn left, leaving Cedar Grove Trail, and follow Avalanche Pass Trail south, climbing up over Avalanche Pass.
5576.8 – (add 11.4) Trail junction just before crossing Roaring River. Colby Pass Trail exits left. Bear Right and cross Roaring River to Ranger Station and another trail Junction. Again bear right where Elizabeth Path Trail exits left and follow Sugarloaf Trail northwestward/downstream beside the Roaring River.
5585.5 – (add 7.7) Trail Junction, stay left.
5586.0 – (add 1.5) Trail to Seville Lake exits right, stay left.
5588.0 – (add 2.0) Trail to Lost Lake exits right, stay left.
5589.5 – (add 1.5) Ranger Lake on right. Stay left and climb over Silliman Pass then down to Twin Lakes.
5594.4 – (add 4.9) Trail Junction. Stay left on Twin Lakes Trail.
5598.1 – (add 3.7) Trail Junction. Stay left on Twin Lakes Trail toward Lodgepole Campground.
5599.2 – (add 1.1) Lodgepole Campground. Stay left. Cross river on campground access road then turn right and soon leave road to follow trail on left, which parallels the road, heading toward Giant Forest and General Sherman Tree.
5600.4 – (add 1.2) Trail junction. Stay right, cross Wolverton Creek where trail to Wolverton area exits left.
5600.9 – (add 0.5) Cross road and continue paralleling General’s Highway southward toward General Sherman Tree.
5601.7 – (add 0.8) General Sherman Tree area. Turn left on trail to the tree then left again onto Congress Trail after passing the big tree.
5602.4 – (add 0.7) Junction with Alta Trail. Continue straight on Congress Trail, heading toward Trail of the Sequoias, which will bear left at another trail junction in 0.2 miles, where Congress Trail bears right.
5604.9 – (add 2.5) Reach Log Meadow Loop Trail at trail junction. Stay right for shortest route to High Sierra Trail and exit of Giant Forest. (Go left for longer loop to Tharps Log and Crescent Meadow Trailhead where High Sierra Trail actually begins.)
5605.3 – (add 0.4) Reach trail junction with High Sierra Trail, turn left and climb to Eagle View and continue northeastward.
5607.3 – (add 2.0) Trail junction. Wolverton Cutoff Trail exits left and climbs. Continue northeastward on High Sierra Trail.
5611.0 – (add 3.7) Trail junction. Trail to Mehrten Meadow exits left. Stay right, continue eastward on High Sierra Trail.
5615.5 – (add 4.5) Bearpaw Meadow. Ranger Station, campground, and concessions seasonally. Here the Fifty Trail leaves the High Sierra Trail to visit a few more groves of big trees. Stay right, taking trail SSW toward Little Bearpaw Meadow.
5616.9 – (add 1.4) At south end of Little Bearpaw Meadow, at trail junction, turn right and descend to the valley floor, crossing and then following the creek downstream.
5618.3 – (add 1.4) At trail junction, stay right, though either way works. Cross Eagle Scout Creek and then Granite Creek, headed toward the Redwood Meadow Grove.
5619.8 – (add 1.5) Redwood Meadow Grove. Keep left at first trail intersection then bear left at a second intersection, onto Paradise Ridge Trail
5625.9 – (add 6.1) Saddle at the rim of a cirque with side trail exiting left to Paradise Peak. Stay right/straight and begin descent to Atwell Grove.
5629.2 – (add 3.3) Atwell Mill campground. Cross Road and pick up Atwell-Hockett Trail, descending to East Fork of the Kaweah River, crossing it, then passing through East Fork Grove.
5638.0 – (add 8.8) Trail Junction. Tar Gap Trail exits left, returning northward. Continue south on Atwell-Hockett Trail toward Hockett Meadows.
5639.6 – (add 1.6) Hockett Meadows Ranger Station. At trail junction stay left, crossing Whitman Creek, and continuing south.
5640.7 – (add 1.1) Sand Meadows. Stay left at trail junction, bearing south and east.
5641.6 – (add 0.9) At trail junction stay left toward South Fork Meadows, Blossom Lakes Trail.
5642.0 – (add 0.4) Reach the South Fork, Kaweah River. At trail junction stay left, continuing east and upstream on north side of river.
5642.8 – (add 0.8) Hunter Creek feeds into Kaweah River at trail junction. Stay left on Blossom Lakes Trail, following Hunter Creek upstream.
5645.0 – (add 2.2) At Trail junction stay right, heading southeast.
5645.7 – (add 0.7) At trail junction head left, continuing eastward. Soon there is another trail junction at the ridge line. Stay right here and continue east, dropping down to Wet Meadows then keeping to the left and following the stream.
5647.6 – (add 1.9) At trail junction stay left and cross stream, heading northeast, descending to Little Kern River and crossing it.
5649.8 – (add 2.2) At trail junction turn sharp right and leave river valley. Climb to the ridge staying right at another trail junction after 0.3 miles.
5650.4 – (add 0.6) Trail junction at the ridge line. Stay left following the trail eastward keeping along a contour line on the side slope.
5651.1 – (add 0.7) Shotgun Creek. Side trail up the creek exits left. Cross creek and continue following a contour line southward, neither climbing or descending much.
5651.7 – (add 0.6) AT trail junction stay left, continue south and east following the contour line then eventually climbing to Coyote Pass.
5656.6 – (add 4.9) Trail junction. Coyote Lakes Trail exits right. Stay left, continuing east on Coyote Pass Trail.
5661.2 – (add 4.6) Kern Canyon Ranger Station. Cross the North-South Lower Kern Trail and cross the river, continuing east toward Volcano Falls, following the trail northeastward.
5665.9 – (add 4.7) Trail junction. Stay left, heading north-northeast toward Little Whitney Meadow
5666.4 – (add 0.5) Another trail junction. Again stay left, heading toward Little Whitney Meadow, following the valley upstream and toward the northeast staying at the base of the slopes to the east side of the valley. Trail may be undefined in places so simply follow the low ground keeping right along the base of the slope and gradually climbing to a broad saddle.
5671.9 – (add 5.5) Trail Junction. Trail to Rocky Basin Lakes exits left, trail following the outlet stream downstream exits right. Continue straight northeastward ascending to a high meadow then descending.
5673.8 – (add 1.9) Big Whitney Meadow. Stay left at trail junction and again at a second 0.1 mile later. Head north to Siberian Pass.
5675.1 – (add 1.3) Trail junction with trail that exits right and heads back toward Big Whitney Meadow. Stay left and ascend toward Siberian Pass.
5677.6 – (add 2.5) Siberian Pass summit. Descend, continuing northward on Siberian Pass Trail.
5678.3 – (add 0.7) Junction with Pacific Crest Trail at mile 754.8. IMPORTANT. Turn LEFT here and head NORTHBOUND on the PCT toward Crabtree Meadows.
5689.8 – (add 11.5) Crabtree Meadows. Pacific Crest Trail mile 766.3. At trail junction, turn right onto Crabtree Meadow Trail headed east toward Mount Whitney.
5690.9 – (add 1.1) At side trail to ranger station stay left, cross creek and then turn right at John Muir Trail, headed toward Mount Whitney.
5696.5 – (add 5.6) Trail summit. Side trail exits left 1.9 miles to Mount Whitney, California’s high point and the high point of the Lower 48 states. Fifty Trail continues east toward Whitney Portal.
5698.6 – (add 2.1) Trail Camp. Continue east, descending toward Whitney Portal Trailhead.
5701.7 – (add 3.1) Outpost Camp. Continue east toward Whitney Portal.
5704.4 – (add 2.7) Side trail exits left toward Iceberg Lake and Mountaineer’s climbing route. Stay right and continue to descend toward Whitney Portal Trailhead
5705.3 – (add 0.9) Whitney Portal Trailhead parking area, Cross parking area and continue east on Whitney Portal National Recreation Trail, which follows Lone Pine Creek eastward
5709.6 – (add 4.3) Lone Pine Campground. Follow access road out to Whitney Portal Road and east to the town of Lone Pine.
5716.7 – (add 7.1) Town of Lone Pine. Turn right onto US 395 South.
*****From here a road walk route is described to reach the Death Valley Traverse route in Racetrack Valley. Shorter routes are available via Cerro Gordo Road east out of Keeler, White Mountain Talc Road, and then a route/trail through Nelson Range, but until this route can be scouted, the road walk is recommended.
5718.5 – (add 1.8) Turn left onto California highway 136 east.
5736.0 – (add 17.5) Continue Straight on California 190 east.
5744.8 – (add 8.8) Turn left onto lightly used dirt road heading ENE, cutting off at an angle to Saline Valley Road.
5746.5 – (add 1.7) Left onto Saline Valley Road, staying to the right at White Mountain Talc Road, then later keeping left at intersection with Hunter Mountain Road.
5775.6 – (add 29.1) Turn Left ont Lippincott/Ubehebe Road.
5782.6 – (add 7.0) Entering Racetrack valley, bear left onto Racetrack Valley Road
5786.2 – (add 3.6) The Grandstand, a granite rock formation in the midst of the playa of Racetrack valley. Cross the Playa to the Grandstand. This is Death Valley Traverse waypoint number DVN 064. Refer to the directions and GPS coordinates given in the link. Head south for 2 miles across the playa to DVN 063
5788.2 – (add 2.0) DVN 063. One of the sliding boulders in the playa. Turnnortheast toward another boulder and onward following the Traverse directions.
5792.1 – (add 3.9) Hidden Valley. Campsite at the end of Day 8 (Fifty trail route is traveling in reverse of the Death Valley Traverse directions)
5807.6 – (add 15.5) Marble Canyon, Day 7 campsite.
5825.6 – (add 18.0) Stovepipe Wells Campground, Day 6 campsite.
5838.5 – (add 12.9) Salt Spring. Day 5 campsite.
5857.6 – (add 19.1) Trail canyon. Day 4 campsite. Continue past Badwater Basin, low point of the western hemisphere.
5884.8 – (add 27.2) Sheep Canyon. Day 3 campsite
5904.2 – (add 19.4) Greenwater Valley. Day 2 campsite.
5906.2 – (add 2.0) Waypoint DVN 019. California Highway 178. Leave Death Valley Traverse route and turn left following the highway eastward.
5907.8 – (add 1.6) Turn right onto Furnace Creek Wash Road
5916.3 – (add 8.5) Turn right onto California 127 south
5916.4 – (add 0.1) Almost immediately turn left onto Tecopa Hot Springs Road
5918.4 – (add 2.0) Slight left onto Furnace Creek Road
5921.2 – (add 2.8) Bear right onto Old Spanish Trail. This is indeed the Old Spanish National Historic Trail route.
5946.2 – (add 25.0) Nevada Border, just past St. Therese Mission Catholic Church. End of California Segment. Old Spanish Highway becomes Tecopa Road.