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Corbett Lake

John Muir Wilderness

June 24th, 2013

6.3 miles
1660 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:16

Starting elevation
7420 feet
Max elevation
9080 feet

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Huntington Lake, take Kaiser Pass Road. Follow it as it becomes a 1-lane road, twisting up toward Kaiser Pass. Follow the road up and over the pass, then past Portal Forebay (lake on your left). Park at/near the Bolsillo campground on the right. The road is mostly paved, but is rough with potholes. It also has steep drop-offs with no guard rails. Drive slowly, with your lights on, and be prepared to have to pull to the side or back up to let oncoming traffic pass. 4WD is not necessary, but large RVs and trailers are not recommended.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

When we entered the Bolsillo Campground, the sign said "No parking" and "Corbett Lake trailhead 1/4 mile". It wasn't clear exactly where we should park, so I just parked in one of the campsite parking areas. It didn't look like anyone had used the site in months, and I doubted anyone would be using it today (the campground was completely devoid of any people). If you were to do this on a weekend in July or August, you might have a different experience, though. A cold Monday in June, though, not a problem.

It was cold, and there were a few drizzles, but no real rain. There were some mosquitoes in the campground as we prepped, but not too bad. We finally got started on the trail around 12:30pm, walking up the dirt and rock road through the campground. It heads uphill past some fenced areas and a small building. After about a quarter mile, we reached the official trailhead. In retrospect, I suppose you could drive the road, but it's a rough road (not something I'd drive on to save a quarter mile of hiking), and there's not much room for parking, anyway.

Interestingly, the trailhead sign says "Corbet Trailhead" instead of "Corbett". Everything I've seen on the web says "Corbett," though, so I think the sign just has a typo. The trail continues past the sign, climbing past sequoias (or pine trees, sometimes it's hard for me to tell) and wildflowers (columbine, Indian paintbrush, and lupine to name a few). There were also snowplant here and there. I'd never seen so much snowplant on a trip before, possibly because we rarely visit the Sierra Nevada as early as June.

View looking north from the trail

Continuing along the trail

The trail becomes steeper, climbing up switchbacks through ferns. The trail veers back toward Bolsillo Creek, but you can't really see it most of the time. You can hear the water and see all the vegetation that surrounds it, though.

Ferns along the trail

Dew drops

After passing a John Muir Wilderness sign, the trail flattens out considerably for a while. We crossed a tiny stream, then continued climbing a bit more, reaching the lake at 2:45pm. When we arrived at the lake, the wind was blowing across the lake right at us, and a heavy mist/rain was falling. We ambled over to some rocks along the southeastern shore, out of the path of most of the wind, and the mist started to abate as well.

Entering the John Muir Wilderness

Small stream we had to cross

Misty Corbett Lake

The lake is pretty but not spectacular, lined with trees all around with several large rock outcroppings scattered around making for nice picnic spots. After a lunch/snack break, we left the lake around 3:15pm. The sun started to show a bit on the hike back down. We arrived back at our car at 4:45pm, having not seen a single person on the entire hike. I'm trying to remember, but I can't think of any other time I've done a 6+ mile hike without seeing anyone else.

Corbett Lake

Corbett Lake

When we got back to the car, we were a bit surprised to see a truck parked in one of the other campsites, but no one was there.

Ferns on the way down

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