Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day Hike From Courtright Reservoir To Hobler Lake

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

The trailhead elevation is about 8,200’. The distance to Hobler Lake is about 4.5 miles. The elevation gain round trip is about 1,200’ and Hobler Lake is about 9,000’. The trailhead is about 2 hours from Fresno. Take Highway 168 to Dinkey Creek Road to McKinley Grove Road to the left at the sign to Courtright. Stop on McKinley Grove Road at the McKinley Grove of giant sequoias and take a look at another Fresno County jewel. The Grant Grove is also in Fresno County.

This hike is a hike to water and reminds me somewhat of the Nellie Lake hike above Huntington Lake. Nellie Lake has about the same numbers with a tad more climb. Both have trails that run through the woods and both have views blocked by trees. My recommendation would be to stop at the overlook above Courtright for a view, which is better in the afternoon on your return. Here you will see the river drainage of the LeConte Divide in front of you. There is a seasonal creek which flows along a portion of the trail making drinking water available if purified.

Cross the dam (carefully because it is a long way down) and follow the signs to the Maxon trailhead parking area. The Sign for the trail is at the top of the parking lot. The trail immediately starts heading down and soon joins with the Dusy Ershim off highway vehicle (OHV) trail. The trail to Hobler Lake and points beyond cuts off to the right in less than a mile. The trail still runs somewhat parallel to the Dusy Ershim trail for awhile and you may hear the loud sound of a vehicle straining to climb a big slab of granite called appropriately “Chicken Rock”.

Later you will come to a big sign that says “John Muir Wilderness”. On your left is a short use trail that will take you to Chamberlain’s camp with a dilapidated log cabin built by the forest service. As you continue toward Hobler Lake, the trail begins to climb in earnest until it flattens out above the signed junction cutoff trail to the lake. The trail itself continues beyond the lake on the west side. I hiked for a time but never found a view.

The Bigfoot Research Organization has a “documented sighting” in the Hobler Lake area at dusk and overnight.
I have nothing to add to the report but then again, I was there during daylight hours.

 Flowering Dogwood In The Sequoias

 Dinkey Creek

 Maxson Dome
 Turn Right Here
 Another Turn Indicator
 Seasonal Creek Along Route
 Occasional Trail Assurance Marker

 Cattlemen's Cabin (corrected)
 Follow Sign
 Hobler Lake

 Jeep on a section of Dusy Ershim Trail (corrected)

 View Crossing The Dam
 Viewing Area On Road Above Dam

This is a trip report for 2016 where I began on the same Maxson Trail and went all the way to Hell For Sure Pass. 


  1. The cabin is called Chamberlains Camp, and was a long time cattleman camp. It was built by them, not the Forest Service. It has an old road that connects with Voyager Rock Campground, just keep walking past the cabin and you will find yourself on it. It hasn't been maintained for vehicles in many years.

    The picture of the Jeep on granite isn't Chicken Rock. Chicken Rock is about another mile back, right after Voyager Rock Campground. The granite in your picture isn't named.

  2. mountainguyed67,
    Thanks for the corrections. Have you driven the Dusy-Ershim Trail? I suspect you are a jeeper.

  3. Go to my Youtube channel and you will find 4 Wheeling and backpacking videos (mostly 4 Wheeling). I've been into Tehipite Valley, Crown Lake, Devils Punchbowl, he'll For Sure Pass, mosquito Pass, and many other places, been backpacking since 1979. Also been 4 Wheeling since the same time as a passenger, and driving my own rig since 1987. I don't have a Jeep, it's an international. I've driven it through Dusy Ershim 5-6 times, several shorter trips too. I've also been helping the Backcountry Horsemen at Chamberlains Camp the last couple years, built the toilet two years ago, more improvements last year. I got a video of the hitching post install too.

  4. Story about the Chamberlains Camp toilet install.

  5. As of today's date (June 27), the road to Courtright Reservoir remains closed. PGE maintains the road and they do not plow it. The snow has to melt off. During the winter, they use a snow cat to get there. The latest report (June 26) states it will be open soon.

  6. The road to Courtright Reservoir was open today and noted on the website yesterday.

  7. Here is this years version of Courtright Reservoir.

  8. According to the U.S. Forest Service road report, Courtright Road is open as of today May 25th 2018.