Sierra Trek

All Participants must be 14 years of age or older and meet the BSA height/weight requirements.

About Trek

The vast amount of land in the Golden Trout Wilderness and lower Sequoia National Forest offers plenty of opportunity for backpacking, camping, team building, leadership development, swimming, fly-fishing, photography, and outdoor learning and reflection. We offer treks ranging from three to five days, from just over ten miles to 50+. We will embark upon a backpacking journey during which we will practice trail navigation, outdoor risk management, lightweight cooking, and backcountry health and hygiene. All the while, trained guides will facilitate exercises designed to enhance participants’ development as confident and capable youth leaders.

Customizable itineraries!

Our list of backpacking treks represents some of the best itineraries possible for units of all experience levels. They are, however, by no means the only itineraries available. Custom itineraries, developed in conjunction with Sierra Expeditions staff and around activities that your group would like to do, can be available upon request. A special introductory itinerary is available for those units new to the outdoors.

Group sizes are limited in accordance with BSA National Camp standards and U.S. Department of the Interior regulations to help ensure the quality as well as safety of our program, and to minimize environmental impact. Including guides, all crews must have a minimum of four persons and cannot exceed 12.
All treks include all necessary permits, transportation from camp to the trailhead and back, food, guide(s), and some necessary equipment, including emergency communication technology, water purification, and first aid kit. Other equipment available upon request include: stoves and fuel, backpacks, bear canisters, and cookware. Other personal gear and fishing permits are the responsibility of the participant.

All Participants must be 14 years of age or older and meet the BSA height/weight requirements.

Whether well versed in advanced outdoor skills, or just breaking into the more venturous outdoor world, Sierra Trekking can help your unit along its trail to adventure.

Trail Ethics

All participants in the Sierra Trekking program are afforded the opportunity to explore some of California’s premier wildernesses through itineraries that are as educational as they are challenging, promoting character- and leadership-development, as well as a well-informed respect for the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. Participants will be formally educated in the principles of Leave no Trace and challenged to apply and thereby internalize those principles over the course of their trekking experience.

Sample Itinerary: Intro to Backcountry Living

Shake Camp Loop through Tule River Drainage (Introductory Itinerary) –

Difficulty: moderate (suitable for less experienced backpackers)

Distance: 10.2 mi.

Time: 2 days of day hiking; 3 day, 2 night backpack

Description: Despite being for less experienced backpackers, this program will still see participants away from Whitsett for all five days of the program. Monday and Tuesday will be spent hiking the beautiful waterways of the middle fork of the Tule River, with those nights spent at the Shake Camp Campground. Come Wednesday morning, participants will head out for a three day, two night backpacking trek through the drainages of the Tule. Starting from base camp at Shake, they’ll head north to Middle Fork before turning southeastward along the Eastside Trail. This trail provides participants the opportunity to enjoy not only some of the largest trees in the world and a shallow trail grade, but also the wooden ruins of old miner dwellings scattered across the banks of the Tule. After a brief descent into and ascent out of the Galena Creek Canyon and just beyond Silver Creek, participants bend south and then westward to commence the go-home leg of the loop. This stretch of trail is the only major elevation delta with which participants will have to deal, as elevation drops almost 1,000 feet before participants reach Old Cabin, and regains just as much to return to Shake.

As a result of the nature of the first two days of this itinerary, the introductory program is extremely customizable. Participants can decide to spend those first two days doing practically whatever they’d like, so long as the activities are within hiking distance of Shake Camp Campground. This can include climbing, hiking, and even cycling.

Sample Itinerary: Silver Knapsack

Difficulty: Strenuous

Distance: 36.2 mi.

Time: 5 day, 4 night

Description: Beginning and ending at the Clicks Creek Trailhead, this looping trek travels north along the well-trafficked Summit National Recreation Trail, but instead of turning around at Maggie Lakes, as most do, the trek continues north past two more glacial lake systems – Frog and Twin – before turning east at Sheep Mountain onto the Windy Gap Trail, which briefly rises beyond the 9,000 tree line to provide participants with an entirely new perspective on the surrounding wilderness. Bending southward to begin the homebound leg of the loop, the next stretch of trail is hardly ever trafficked and still shows signs of fire damage, so participants will most likely be moving quite slowly between Walker Cabin and Grey Meadow before they bend westward for the go-home miles of the trek.

This trek can be expanded to meet the requirements of the BSA 50-Miler Award.


Sample Itinerary: Forks of the Kern to Jerky Meadows

Difficulty: moderate to strenuous

Distance: 22.8 mi.

Time: 5 day, 4 night

Description: Beginning at the Forks of the Kern Trailhead, participants will descend the Kern Canyon to cross the Little Kern River just north of the fork and trek northbound on the west bank of the Kern before ascending back out of the canyon at the Kern Flat. From there, participants trek westward and northward, spending time along the northernmost contour of the Flatiron, a massive plateau that rests just above 6,400 feet. After several miles of gradual uphill grade northwest of the Flatiron, participants reach the Little Kern Canyon, into which they’ll descend and cross the river to ascend its canyon’s western slope. A few more miles of uphill grade face participants before a relaxing downhill go-home stretch of trail, ending at the Jerky Meadows Trailhead.

Of all possible itineraries, this trek is designed to maximize the amount of time participants spend near water. Furthermore, the trails followed by the loop outlined in this itinerary branch frequently, so participants can customize the itinerary to meet their needs and wants. While the deeper Golden Trout Wilderness in which this itinerary takes place lacks a variety of activities, it possesses of variety of scenery and trails of varying difficulty.