Backpacking Trips

    • Fri, June 23, 2023
    • 8:00 AM
    • Tue, June 27, 2023
    • 12:00 PM
    • Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead
    • 1
    Registration is closed

    Great Outdoors Orange County/Long Beach presents

    Upper Rock Creek Trailhead Backpack (Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead)

    June 23 - 27, 2023

    June in the Sierras is the opening of the Summertime backpacking window with a chance to visit magnificent alpine environs. This trip is a 5-day 24-mile loop hike, starting from Horseshoe Meadows along the Cottonwood Lakes trail, up over New Army Pass to Upper Rock Creek, then proceeding along the PCT to Chicken Spring Lake, and return to the trailhead on the Cottonwood Pass trail.

    This trip is limited to 6 hikers plus the 2 co-leaders. Permit slots will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis. All others will be added to a waiting list.

    You must contact the trip leader directly if you are interested in participating.  The trip leader will send you the registration form after confirming that you are qualified as fit for the activity.  This trip is rated as “moderate” because of elevations exceeding 11,000 feet.  Altitude effects can significantly impact a hiker's ability and altitude sickness is a real risk.  Some sections such as ascending New Army Pass may be considered as “strenuous” by some hikers.  It is “non-technical”.

    Contact either trip Leader: Doug Cable, or Larry Purtle

    Please be aware that you are not registered for this backpack trip until the trip leader has determined you are qualified, and you have completed and submitted the registration form and payment of $40. The registration form needs to be returned to the trip leader and payment made within 7 days of receiving the registration form or the trip leader will contact the next person on the waiting list and you will forfeit your spot.

    You may cancel at any time up until June 1, 2023 and your fee will be refunded.  There will be NO refunds after June 1, 2023, unless the Trip Leader decides to significantly alter the trip due to weather or safety considerations.

    The higher elevations are likely to have snow so you have to ensure that you bring appropriate clothing and microspikes and large baskets for your poles. (yes, you have a large basket already)

    Sorry, no pets.

    Although not part of the official trip, it is essential to drive up on Thursday 6/22 and camp at Horseshoe Meadows Campground near Cottonwood Pass Trailhead, to acclimatize better to the altitude of about 10,000 feet and rest up for the hike the next day. Diamox prescription medicine is HIGHLY recommended for 3 days prior to avoid altitude sickness.

    Click here for an overview map of the backpack.

    6/23, Day 1: Hike 5.3 miles from Horseshoe Meadows to S Fork Lakes 5.3 miles, to 11,073’ elevation. Depending on how we feel, we may go on to Long Lake or High Lake in preparation for ascending New Army Pass on day 2.

    6/24, Day 2:  we will ascend New Army Pass, 12,300’.  It has rocky switchbacks that proceed from the South Lakes basin to above the tree line with outstanding views.  Our destination will be Upper Rock Creek. It is 6.5 miles from the S Fork Lakes. We can stop early at Soldier Lakes if necessary.

    6/25, Day 3: we will go to Chicken Spring Lake 11,258’. 6 miles.

    6/26, Day 4: rest day at Chicken Spring Lake. We will look for the chicken, or do day hikes to explore the area

    6/27, Day 5:  Return to Horseshoe Meadows and the trailhead along the Cottonwood Pass trail.

    Key distances and altitudes






    Cotton Wood Lakes Trailhead


    10,080 ft


    Long Lake

    6 miles

    11,160 ft


    New Army Pass

    8.2 miles

    12,300 ft


    Soldier Lake

    11.7 miles

    10,800 ft


    Upper Rock Creek Campsite

    12.7 miles

    10,450 ft

    3 & 4

    Chicken Spring Lake

    19 miles

    11,258 ft


    Cottonwood Pass

    19.9 miles

    11,000 ft



    24 miles

    10,080 ft

    You will need your ten essentials and appropriate backpacking gear. Click here for the list. Carpooling is recommended to reduce fuel costs and vehicle emissions.

    • Tue, August 08, 2023
    • 8:00 AM
    • Sun, August 13, 2023
    • 2:00 PM
    • Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead
    • 0
    Registration is closed

    Great Outdoors Orange County/Long Beach presents

    McGee Pass Backpack

    August 8th-13th 2023

    Trip Leader: Juan Carlos Hernandez, email:, phone:  805-302-0717 

    John Muir Wilderness?

    Yes Please!

    This is an exciting and challenging 5-night backpacking trip under the Easter Sierra Sky during one of the most active astrological phenomena of the year. We will be visiting the sierras during the Perseids Meteor Shower 2023 which is predicted to peak August 12th and 13th.

    We will leave from the McGee Creek trail head at 8 AM on the morning of August 9th at 8,045 feet. At first, our ascent will be moderate. After passing locally known Round Lake at the 5-mile mark, we will climb more steeply, heading to Big McGee Lake at about 7 ½ miles at altitude 10,472 feet. There are heavily used campsites at the lake where we will stay the night. We will be surrounded by the colorful walls of the Red Mountain and White Mountain. On day two, we will cover 5.5 miles, crossing over McGee Pass at 11,909 feet, and then descend steeply to Fish Creek, crossing the creek at about 10,600 feet to camp at beautiful Tully Lake. We will spend the remainder of our stay at Tully Lake and enjoy exploring the surrounding lakes and valleys. Plenty of great views, fishing, day hikes, or just relaxing around the scenic lake.

    This backpacking trip is considered strenuous/moderate, and you must be able to keep a moderate pace with the entire group. The trip will be limited to 6 people max and interested members must register with the GO, be in good standing and have experience backpacking overnight 4 nights or more.

    Cancelation policy: 100% refund prior to July 12th, 2023. After July 12th, 2023, no refunds will be issued because members on the wait list may not have time to organize for the trip.

    Please be aware that you are not registered for this backpack trip until the trip leader has determined you are qualified, and you have completed and submitted the registration form and payment of $40. The registration form needs to be returned to the trip leader and payment made within 7 days of receiving the registration form or the trip leader will contact the next person on the waiting list, and you will forfeit your spot.

    Things to consider.

    • August 8th Arrive at Campgroup and acclimate to elevation.

    • August 9th Departure from Trailhead at 8am sharp

    • August 10th spend the night at Big McGee Lake and explore the lake at your leisure.

    • August 11th departure for Tully Lake at 8am and ascend McGee Pass

    • August 12th explore Tully Lake and surrounding Trails.

    • August 13th Pack up and Return to Trail head at 8am

    • It is imperative you must be able to keep up with group on this trip as we will be covering 13 miles on the last day of the trip to the trail head.

    • Acclimation campground close to trailhead McGee Creek Campground 37° 33' 51.9998" N 118° 47' 4.9999" W on August 8th. Two campgrounds will be reserved for participants arriving that day.

    • Click here for a map of the trailhead.

    • Tue, August 15, 2023
    • 3:00 PM
    • Mon, August 21, 2023
    • 3:00 PM
    • Boundary Waters Canoe Area (MN), Entry Point #24 Fall Lake
    • 5

    Boundary Waters Canoe Area:

    The Crown Jewel of Minnesota

    Tuesday August 15 - Monday August 21, 2023

    Trip Description: Join us for this once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the crown jewel of Minnesota nature, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Located in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border, this area is famous for its pristine lakes, singing loons and great fishing. This trip will be a backpacking canoe trip, meaning every participant will work in community with others on the trip to share responsibilities like cooking, building fires, switching off paddling, and securing food supplies overnight. Trips to the BWCA are considered a right of passage in Minnesota culture, and I am excited to share this experience with you! 

    Note: Flights to/from MSP Airport are not included. Our backpacking trip will begin August 16th and end August 21st, but plan an extra day on both ends for travel to/from our entry/exit points (Point #24, Fall Lake).

    Route Overview: Starting on Fall Lake you travel north into Basswood Lake and after two days or so of paddling, around the time you start to miss portaging you portage back towards Fall Lake. Green line indicates route.

    Distance: ~30miles

    Route Type: Loop


    Tuesday, August 15th

    Arrive to MSP, drive to Packsack Canoe Trips & Log Cabins. Overnight stay in the bunkhouse included with registration costs (see PS image on map below).

    Wednesday, August 16th

    Depart from entry location, Point #24 Fall Lake (see map below for Point #24 marked). Canoe through Fall Lake, portage to Newton Lake, canoe north through Newton Lake, portage to Lewis Narrows to set up camp (see location 1 marked on map below). Both portages pass waterfalls for good viewing (Newton Falls and Pipestone Falls).

    Thursday, August 17th

    Canoe/portage to campsite #2 (marked on map below). Portage from Lewis Narrows to Back Bay and group decision to either paddle south through Hoist Bay or to portage east of Back Bay.

    Friday, August 18th

    Day trip to islands and lakes. Enjoy camp or fishing.

    Saturday, August 19th

    Canoe/portage to campsite #3 in Jackfish Bay. No portages on route.

    Sunday, August 20th

    Day trip to islands and lakes. Enjoy camp or fishing.

    Monday August 21st

    Depart for Exit #24 Fall Lake, including 3 short portages through Lewis Narrows and past Newton/Pipestone Falls again. Drive back to Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

    The below map depicts our route and campsites available for use (colored dots). We will camp at the nearest available campsite in relation to our resting locations (numbered below).

    Cost: See per person registration type. This includes canoe rentals, permits, communal Duluth packs (x2), and Bunk House accommodations at Packsack for the evening of Tuesday August 15th. Flights not included. Food and Travel (car ride north) coordination is recommended with the Trip Leader.

    Cancellation/Refund: No refunds will be available after July 1st, 2023. If an alternate attendee is confirmed, refund coordination is available after July 1st, 2023.

    Travel: Coordination with the Trip Leader is encouraged. Flights are not included, but an early arrival Tuesday is recommended for the drive up to Packsack. You are responsible for your travel to Packsack, but Trip Leader assistance is available. Direct flights from San Diego to MSP are available through Sun Country and Delta Airlines. There will be several cars leaving throughout the day from the Twin Cities (i.e., MSP airport) to Packsack (lodging). It is a 4.5hour drive from the airport to the BWCA, so early arrival is critical for a timely arrival to Packsack and to avoid personally renting a car.

    Experience: This trip does not require previous canoe/portage experience, and is considered an easy route due to the limited portaging and base camp days included in the schedule (2 full days). If you have never portaged or paddled, please let the Trip Leader know and they will be more than happy to coordinate with you. 

    Weather: These mid-summer temperatures are high 50s to high 70s. Of course, mid-August is warmer than early July, and you can expect a bump in humidity as the summer progresses. August averages about 8 days of rain, so bring rain gear. This is the end of the mosquito season, meaning mosquitos will be waning but this is always location dependent in the BWCA.

    Bring: 10 Essentials (no kidding, every person needs a personal first aid kit); water filtration; food for each meal plus extra snacks; water bottle and filter system; sleeping bag and pad; tent; appropriate footwear (land and water); layered clothing; jacket; rain gear; wide hat; compass; toilet paper & trowel; jet boil/compact camping stove; fire starter; headlamp; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; camera and entertainment (book, card game, etc). 

    Note: Some communal equipment will be utilized, like jet boils/stove to reduce duplicative equipment being carried.

    Other Considerations: As with any backcountry experience, this one is "Leave no Trace" - our trash comes out with us. Active bear area - mandatory use of either bear cannisters or hanging food sacks.

    Trip Leader: Tyler Roosden (651.497.1611) or at 

    • Thu, August 24, 2023
    • Sun, August 27, 2023
    • Pinecrest, CA (Crabtree Trailhead)
    • 4

    SBVC – Gem Lake Backpack (Intermediate)

    August 24-27, 2023

    (backup dates September 21-24)

    Total Distance: ~20 miles  Elevation Gain: ~3300ft   Route Type: Lollipop Loop

    Note: Potential attendees must be screened by trip leader prior to registration. The Intermediate rating of this trip is based on distance traveled from vehicles, terrain, elevation, elevation gain, and expected weather.  Please contact the trip leader to discuss if this trip is right for you, and to obtain the registration code.

    Note: The Sierra Nevada range experienced unprecedented snowfall this year. The ranger station advises the roads may be closed until mid-August or even later if they need to repair damage. If we cannot get up there Aug 24-27 then the backup dates of Sept 21-24 will be used.

    The Gem Lake Loop is located in Emigrant Wilderness, which borders Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, and offers incredible views, alpine lakes, lush forests, smaller crowds, and diverse terrain.  

    Along our hike, the trail meanders between thick forest and open granite-filled vistas.  This area is known for being easily accessible due to gently-sloping wide open granite bowls and domes.  The elevation changes will bring us uphill and downhill a few times, however there aren't any drastic or long uphills to dread.

    There are ample opportunities to filter water, both from the lakes and steams.

    Two overnights on the trail offer plenty of time to explore the area.  On our free day, we have the latitude to do whatever we desire, whether that be staying around camp and reading or lounging, or taking a day hike from base camp.  I recommend Jewelry Lake and Deer Lake as nice options with cool waters in which to dip on a warm day.

    Rest up well because on Sunday, we will eat breakfast, pack up camp, and hike the 10 miles back to our vehicles, mostly along a different trail before meeting back up with the main route.

    In order to acclimate to the elevation and allow folks time to group up, our first night will be car camping at Crabtree Trailhead (~7200ft). The next morning, we'll eat breakfast and get on the trail by 9:00am to make the most of our day on the trail.

    Thursday, 8/24 (Optional): Drive to Crabtree Trailhead for connecting with group (late afternoon) and elevation acclimation. Day hikes available. Sleep in car or limited tent sites available.

    Friday, 8/25: Breakfast, break camp and be at the Crabtree Trailhead ready to start hike at 9:00am. Hike 10 miles to Gem Lake.

    Saturday, 8/26: Free day!  Lounge around camp or indulge in a day hike to Jewelry Lake or Deer Lake.

    Sunday, 8/27: Breakfast, break camp and head 10 miles back to the trailhead via loop trail

    Weather: Expect warm days and chilly evenings and mornings. Dressing in layers is the best way to manage the possible range of temperatures. Precipitation is always a possibility, so rain gear is mandatory.

    Bring: 10 Essentials (no kidding, every person needs a personal first aid kit); water filtration; food for each meal plus extra snacks; water bottle and filter system; sleeping bag and pad; tent; broken-in hiking boots; layered clothing; jacket; rain gear; wide hat; compass; toilet paper & trowel; compact camp stove; fire starter; headlamp; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; camera and entertainment (book, card game, etc). Topographic maps of the area will be provided at the trailhead.

    Cost: $20. Backpacking permit for each person is included. Maximum 8 people. When capacity is reached, a waiting list will be in effect. Cancel before August 11 to receive a refund.

    Other considerations: As with any backcountry experience, this one is "Leave no Trace" - our trash comes out with us. Active bear area - mandatory use of either bear cannisters or hanging food sacks.

    Directions: From Los Angeles take I-5 North to CA-99 North. Take Exit 186C E 16th St in Merced. Merge onto E 16th St. Turn Right onto G St and drive for 6.6 miles. Stay Right on Snelling Rd and drive for 9.4 miles.  Turn Right onto CA-59 North and drive for 1.5 miles.  Turn Left onto LaGrange Rd (signs for County Road J59 and Don Pedro Lake) and drive for 26.1 miles.  Turn Right onto CA-108E/CA-120E and drive for 40.4 miles.  Slight Right onto Pinecrest Lake Rd and drive for 0.4 miles. Turn Right onto Dogde Ridge Rd and drive for 3 miles.  Turn Right at Dodge Ridge Loop Rd and drive for 0.5 miles.  Turn Left onto Crabtree Road and drive for 4.9 miles. Carpooling is highly encouraged.

    Trip Leader: Please contact Chris Fava at 805-509-8240 or at

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