Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kaiser Peak Hike 2014

Dale Matson

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

My spring warm up hikes are local and increase in degree of difficulty in anticipation of the summer backpacking season. Even these day hikes involve climbing at altitude. Commercial airlines have a cabin pressure of 8,000’. Folks in an airplane are not climbing however and it seems to me that over 8,000’ is when I begin to notice the elevation when climbing. Hiking on the flat at 10,000’ does not seem that bad but the minute the trail begins to ascend it is a different matter. I have also noticed that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of people on a trail and the altitude (Half Dome and Mt. Whitney excepted).

The most direct route to Kaiser Peak is from a trailhead out of the Village of Lakeshore CA (Huntington Lake) about one and one half hours from Fresno CA. The hike is twelve miles round trip with about 3,400’ of altitude gain overall. It is a long day hike with the total time out about seven hours. Even early in the season there are not many opportunities to resupply water. By mid summer, there is no water access and two liters of water is a minimum. I would also recommend starting before 7am to avoid climbing in the heat. Even though the valley heat doesn't reach that elevation, the sun is much more intense.

Afternoon thunderstorms are a possibility and packing a hooded rain shell is prudent. Bring a map and compass and remember, if all fails head south toward Huntington Lake. I use trekking poles and they really help with the steepest sections up and down.
I did not expect much snow on the trail this year, which was the case. It is early yet and the horse stable sign was not erected at the intersection of Huntington Lake Road and Upper Dear Creek Ln yet. There is a small parking area at the end of the road across from the horse stable. The trailhead is on the north side of the stables.

Snow Plant
Huntington Lake At Resting Place Below College Rock (Panorama)
China Peak Ski Area Above Huntington Lake

The first 3 miles of the outbound hike is the most climb. There is a nice view of Huntington Lake and China Peak before you get to College Rock with places to rest a bit. At three miles you will be at College Rock and have climbed about 2,000’. At this point you will have to leave the trail to your right (outbound) to see the view. The mountains are just beginning to peek over the ridge. The next three miles has less climbing overall but the altitude makes what climbing you do have, more difficult. The summit is a “walk up” and a nice place for lunch. The whole central Sierras are laid before you to the east.

College Rock

False Summit Number II

Last Snow On The Trail

Central Sierra Nevada Mountains
Edison Lake Barely Visible To Right Of Center
Huntington Lake From Kaiser Peak
Zoom Shot

All but one of these photographs was taken with a Sony A7 with a 35mm prime lens. The zoom shot on top of Kaiser Peak was taken with a pocket Sony. Don't forget a camera. I don't know if you can get out with a cell phone since I don't carry one. Life is all about perspective. 

There are additional photographs on YouTube here:  


  1. Here is an update with a hike in Spring 2015.

  2. Here is 2016