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Tired of rush hour and crowded places? The remote and pristine Sierra Nevadas are always a good idea! This is your opportunity to unwind among crystal-clear alpine lakes and immerse yourself in the scenic backcountry landscape. This 5-day guided hiking adventure takes you deep into the pristine expanse of Ansel Adams Wilderness, where you will find majestic granite peaks, crystalline lakes, cascading streams, and vibrant meadows. If you want to experience the dramatic vistas just on the border of Southern Yosemite while discovering secluded trail routes in a rich mountain environment, this is the trip for you. So gear up. Nature awaits.

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Adventure highlights

  • Spectacular alpine lakes

    Explore the high country basin and its beautiful scenery while backpacking through the Ansel Adams Wilderness

  • Discover the high Sierra Nevadas

    Depending on you energy levels, either summit a 10,000-foot peak or take a dip in an alpine lake

  • Secluded hiking trails

    Escape the crowds with a local guide well-acquainted with the terrain and its off-trail routes

Itinerary

Go on an adventure in Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and become one with nature in an unspoiled environment. Beginning with a drive to the trailhead, this 5-day guided backpacking trek with customized routes and activities takes you through fir forests and high lakes basins. From the start of the hike to the end, your guides will take care of everything, including gear and meal preparation. The trip ends with a morning of leisure at your campsite before returning to the trailhead and civilization.

  • Your adventure begins! Upon your arrival, check in to the Pines Resort situated on the beautiful Bass Lake anytime after 4pm. You will meet with your guide and the rest of your team at 6pm in the main lobby for a short trip orientation. Spend the rest of the evening as you wish—you can visit a local restaurant in the village or get some rest for tomorrow.

    Accommodation: Pines Resort at Bass Lake

    Bedroom at the Pines Resort
  • Rise and shine! Following an early breakfast on your own—you might want to check out a nice bakery in the Pines village—you’ll meet with your group at 8 am and drive to the nearby trailhead situated at 7,600 feet (2,316 meters). It takes an hour to get to the trailhead, but keep in mind that you’ll have to get there yourself.

    Once your gear is sorted, we’ll hit the trail. The hiking path will wind approximately 6 miles (9.7 km), leading us through fragrant fir forests before ascending into the pristine high sub-alpine lakes basin, where we’ll make basecamp.

    Meals: Lunch and dinner
    Hiking: 6 miles / 9.7 km
    Elevation: +1,709 ft / +520 m | -322 ft / -98 m

    Fishing at the lakeside camp
  • On Day 3, your guide will take you on a hike through the unspoiled upper lakes basin both via marked trails and off-trail routes. The exact destinations and covered distance vary and will be determined by the preferences of the group members. No worries—the guides are experienced hikers who can easily adapt the itinerary to anyone’s taste. The day will end with a refreshing swim at your lakeside camp, followed by a hearty dinner and stargazing.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
    Hiking: between 1-6 miles / 1.6-9.7 km
    Elevation: depends on the chosen route

  • Ready for a challenge? After enjoying a breakfast prepared by your guide, we’ll venture out once more to discover the beauty of the surrounding area. There is a possibility of a summit hike to one of the nearby peaks towering over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), which make up the southern border of Yosemite National Park. Additionally, depending on your interest, there is an opportunity for a day hike to other alpine lakes boasting fantastic fishing, swimming, and photography spots.

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
    Hiking: between 1-6 miles / 1.6-9.7 km
    Elevation: depends on the chosen route

  • On your last day in Ansel Adams Wilderness, you’ll have a relaxed morning. After bidding farewell to your camp, you will begin your journey back to the trailhead. You can expect to depart the high country around 12-1 pm.

    Meals: Breakfast and lunch
    Hiking: 6 miles / 9.7 km
    Elevation: +322 ft / +98 m | -1,709 ft / -520 m

    Campsite in the woods
  • While some activities, distances, and altitudes can be customized based on your preferences, there could be variations in the itinerary for many reasons beyond your organizer’s control, such as weather and terrain conditions, as well as potential national forest closures.

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Meet your guide

Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides
5.00
Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides
Founded in 1991 by a trio of close friends, Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides strive to intertwine their passion for the outdoors with their professional lives. This blend of personal and professional dedication propelled SYMG to the forefront of the active travel and mountain guiding world, providing carefully planned and executed trips in the most spectacular wilderness areas of California and beyond. Over the years, they’ve introduced countless adventurers to the beauty of Yosemite and the High Sierra, earning accolades such as being recognized as one of the “Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure Magazine.
5.00 (5 reviews)
Darren M. (source: Guide’s website)

Just a quick note to say our trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness with Gretchen was absolutely amazing—experience of a lifetime department! The itinerary was perfect, the equipment was great, food was awesome and Gretchen was completely amazing. Gretchen in particular made the trip really special, she connected with our girls so well and made everyone super comfortable. Happy to leave a review in the right place or tell you more, but as I jump back into the swirl of work I just wanted to say thanks for a really first-rate experience from start to finish.

Francis S. (source: Guide’s website)

My family and I had a great time on the Alpine lakes backpack trip! Chudy and Drew took great care of us and were very professional. We got some phenomenal photos but they don’t begin to portray the vistas we encountered. From Chittendon Lake and Sing Peak Summit to Jones Store the trip met our every expectation. I hope that you are able to continue to get people into the backcountry. Thanks again.

Yvonne Wu (source: Guide’s website)

This was our second time doing this same trip, and it was as amazing and magical as the first time, if not more so (warmer, fewer bugs, scenery even more spectacular if that’s even possible). We are grateful to SYMG for accommodating us during COVID, putting additional procedures in place, and for being flexible with respect to our groups’ needs (e.g., mule stock support).

Lesley (source: Guide’s website)

We had an absolutely wonderful experience on a short backpacking trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. Michelle Beebe was our guide. She was very knowledgeable, cooked great meals and was fun, easy going and accommodating. I would highly recommend her for any trip.

Jennifer Chuang (source: Guide’s website)

I had an amazing trip with SYMG in Ansel Adams wilderness. It was above and beyond my expectations. Our guides (Dahlia and Ben) were awesome. I love the cross country hikes in Lakes Basin. Climbing up to Madera Peak was a blast. I appreciate the healthy, delicious and dairy free meals with gluten free options Dahlia and Ben prepared. Highly recommend this trip.

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • Experienced local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • A 5-day Ansel Adams Wilderness backpacking and camping tour
      • Backpacking permits
      • Accommodation (first night’s lodging at the Pines Resort & wilderness camping with permits ensured)
      • Backcountry gourmet meals (from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 5) including trail snacks and hot tea or coffee each morning
      • Personal backpacking gear rental (backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents—solo travelers get a single tent, otherwise you can choose from a 2, 3, or 4-person tent) — provided upon request free of charge, let us know upon booking
      • Group gear (provided by the guides):
        • Water filters
        • Stoves
        • Cookware
        • Group shelter
        • Emergency GPS device
        • Group bathroom kit (trowel & toilet paper)
        • Bear cans

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to and from trailhead and lodging
      • Some meals (dinner on Day 1 and 5 and breakfast on Day 2)
      • Personal clothing & footwear
      • Guide gratuities — recommended
      • Travel and medical insurance — strongly recommended
  • This Ansel Adams Wilderness backpacking trip is geared towards beginners, but it is recommended to put in some time to prepare for the tour. If you are newer to backpacking, you can still join the group, but it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with your gear, as you will be spending most nights in the wilderness. Make sure you’ve broken in your chosen footwear as well as that you’re comfortable with your clothing and equipment beforehand.

    You will cover up to 6 miles (9.7 km) on some days, check out the itinerary for detailed info on distances and elevation changes day-by-day. If you can, try hiking with a weighted pack to build up your stamina.

  • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Water bottle or hydration bladder (3L capacity)
      • Personal clothing and footwear
      • Personal backpacking gear — available to rent at no additional cost, let us know upon booking
        • Backpack
        • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
        • Trekking poles
        • Tents — one-person tent available for solo travelers, otherwise choose from a two, three, or four-person tent
      • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
      • Comfortable hiking clothes
      • Spare clothes for layering
      • Waterproof rain jacket
      • Sunhat
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
      • Medications
      • Headlamp or flashlight
      • Sunglasses
      • Camera — optional (but recommended)

    Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.

  • All meals during this guided backpacking tour in the Ansel Adams Wilderness will be prepared by your guide—all meals are included from lunch on Day 2 to lunch on Day 5. Get ready to taste some of the best backpacking meals in the biz! The guides are also able to accommodate special dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.). If you have any, let us know upon booking.

    While your guides take care of all menu planning and shopping, including snacks, you still may want to bring some snacks along if you know yourself to be a big eater/snacker. Still, keep in mind that there is limited space in the bear-proof containers that you will use. Your guides also welcome specific snack requests when booking your trip.

  • While backpacking through the Ansel Adams Wilderness, you’ll camp by lakes and spend only the first night at a resort.

    The lodgings at the Pines Resort are double occupancy rooms, so on the first night you will share a room with another hiker. If you sign up as a solo traveler, it could happen that there’s no one to share the room with—in that case, you’ll have to pay a forced single supplement (extra $125 in case there’s no one to share a room with). There’s also the option of paying for single supplement right away at the checkout if you’d like to be sure you’ll have a room to yourself.

    While on trail, you will be sleeping in a tent. Your guides can provide you with one free of charge, but you’ll have to let us know upon booking. If you’re a solo traveler, single tents are available. Otherwise, you can choose from two-person, three-person, or four-person tents, depending on your group.

  • Group sizes and pricing

      • For this guided group adventure, the client-to-guide ratio is 6:1.
      • The maximum number of participants is set at 12.
      • It takes a minimum of 3 participants for this tour to run.
      • While in the wild, you’ll be staying in a tent—if you come solo, you’ll get a single-person tent.
      • The first night is spent at the Pines Resort, where you’ll stay in double occupancy rooms–if you come solo, you’ll most likely be placed in a room with another hiker. However, it could happen that there’s no one to share the room with—in that case, you’ll have to pay a forced single supplement (extra $125 in case there’s no one to share a room with). There’s also the option of paying for single supplement right away at the checkout if you’d like to be sure you’ll have a room to yourself.

    Backpacking in Ansel Adams Wilderness can be arranged for larger or private groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join backpacking in the Ansel Adams Wilderness on a case-by-case basis, but must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to the Pines Resort, the starting point of your backpacking tour in Ansel Adams Wilderness, most people fly into Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), 1 hour from Bass Lake. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to reach Bass Lake.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance.

    With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

    Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for you, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A non-refundable deposit of $200 is due upon booking to secure your place. The remaining amount is paid 3 months (90 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • Cancellations sixty one (61) days or greater in advance are eligible for a full refund less the non-refundable deposit.
      • For cancellations sixty (60) to thirty one (31) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking.
      • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
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