Backpacking Granite Lake, Emigrant Wilderness

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Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

There’s nothing like a relaxing weekend in the Sierra backcountry. Over the 4th of July weekend, my friend Blair invited me out on a girls’ only trip out to Granite Lake in Emigrant Wilderness. I haven’t adventured much off of Sonora Pass, so I immediately said yes!

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

We started off at the Gianelli Cabin trailhead (elevation 8580’) behind the Pinecrest Ranger Station late Friday afternoon. Our plan was to hike the five-ish or so miles to Granite Lake. If it got too late in the evening, we would re-evaluate our plans and adjust accordingly.

The trail was much tougher than we had anticipated. Our packs were stuffed to the brim with extra things like hammocks and climbing gear. With all the weight, our packs were not very light at all. The going was a little slow. Night fell and we took a wrong turn and ended off trail. We found a flat spot to pitch our tents so we could backtrack in the morning.

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

The next morning we woke up bright and early to finish our trek to Granite Lake. We found the trail and were well on our way. Our first stop was Y Meadow Lake where we headed off trail for Granite Lake. Y Meadow Lake was absolutely beautiful. It was’n’t very far, but we stopped to take the time to filter water and enjoy the scenery. We had all the time in the world.

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

Our trail followed Y Meadow Lake down to the dam where it empties out into Lily Creek. Instead of following Lily Creek through the drainage, we headed slightly southeast to hike up the ridge away from the drainage. Once we got over the ridge we began to descend in a more southwest direction. We hit and unnamed lake and some rangers coming from Granite Lake. They told us we were close! And close we were. We navigated around the unnamed lake and soon Granite Lake was in the distance!

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

Granite Lake was impossibly beautiful and aptly named. We set up our camp alongside some friends we planned on meeting out here. I snagged a sweet spot overlooking the lake and the real fun began. We hopped in the lake and swam for hours. It was cold, but not too cold!

Our friends had scouted out some sweet climbing on the other side of the lake so we wandered over to rope up and try our hand at some first ascents. It was worth hauling in the climbing gear. Having a backcountry basecamp was really nice!

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

The next day we packed up all our things and retraced our steps back out to catch the Women’s World Cup. What a great 4th of July weekend!

Looking for similar backpacking trips to Granite Lake? Backpacking to Lake Aloha was pretty magical. Meiss Lake is another cool off trail lake. Fourth of July Lake is off the beaten path.

Gear: Teton Sports Mountain Ultra 1 tent, Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 50 pack, Norrøna bitihorn lightweight pants, Woolx Base Camp hoody, Woolx Mia tee, Salewa Alp Flow boots

Backpacking Emigrant Wilderness Granite Lake

Backpacking Granite Lake Emigrant Wilderness

Last updated on January 25, 2019.


  1. Just checked out your about section and saw you are in SF! I just visited for the first time last week! Such an amazing spot, wish I had more time to explore!

    Katie @ Katie Wanders

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