Distance: 4.6 Miles
Elevation Gained: 1,400
Time: No idea : )
– More rolling mountainsides, mixed-conifer forest, and views
– Easy access from campsite
– Good conditioning hike
– None to speak of, unless you’re comparing it to more remarkable hikes nearby
The Jennie Lakes Wilderness sits in a nook between an arm of Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. It also shares a border with land that is both Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest. The vast array off different land management agencies is due to the piecemeal process of conservation that took place between Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Originally, Sequoia National Park protected a handful of groves, but over the years, it expanded its coverage until, along with Kings Canyon, until most of the groves in the region were protected. Later on, the national forest was protected to provide better land management of the forests here, and in the 1990’s, Sequoia National Monument was created to protect the few remaining groves that weren’t protected in the parks.
However, a small pocket of land situated in the high country between Sequoia and Kings Canyon remained. It has no sequoia groves, but the high country is not nearly as dramatic as that found in the two big parks. However, it does have alpine lakes, and its popularity required management and protection, thus spawning Jennie Lakes Wilderness.
I’ve never been to the lakes, which are accessible either from the Big Meadows Trailhead or the Stony Creek Trailhead. The Big Meadows Trailhead leads to a relatively easy hike, and is therefore more popular, even though Stony Creek is much more accessible. The Stony Creek trail ascends a steep mountainside that makes you earn most of your steps.
This was an impromptu hike that I had not planned beforehand. While we sat around the campsite, enjoying the morning, I felt the itch to get out and walk. I didn’t want to drag Sean and Taylor on another hike, since I was planning stops at Tokopah Falls and Crescent Meadow. But because I get antsy and needed to burn off some energy, I decided to go see what the trail to the lakes had to offer. Besides, I had a monster hike the next day and wanted to further acclimate to mountain hiking.
The trail itself is a good one, offering views and forests that, by now, were pretty familiar. That’s no knock on the trail; if anything, this trail suffers from inevitable comparisons. How many people are going to dayhike an obscure trail twenty minutes from Giant Forest when it has neither big trees nor epic views to offer? Not many, for sure, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that this was an enjoyable hike through a lovely forest with some good views to boot.
I only meant to go about two miles, but the trail kept compelling me forward until I reached a saddle that offered no discernible direction in which to continue. Had I had time, inclination, and a map, I might have continued on to Jennie Lake, but I knew Sean and Taylor were back at the camp waiting, and in a matter of time, we’d be off to more impressive hikes. So, I turned back.However, next time I’m here, I intend to bring a backpack and trek up to Jennie Lake for a night. It definitely sounds like an enjoyable excursion.