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Planning Your Hiking Trip In The Sierra Nevada Mountains


By Michael Hodson
Overland Travel Expert, about.com
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Not to be confused with the equally interesting and attractive mountain range in Spain, this range of mountains offers some of the best hiking in the country, and is also home to the highest point in the contiguous USA, Mount Whitney. There are three national parks that cover different parts of the mountain range, and while the Sierra Nevadas are mainly located in California, there is a spur that also crosses the border into Nevada. Literally translated from Spanish, the name means 'Snowy Range', and for much of the year the higher peaks will hold some snow, but throughout the year this is really a great area to explore.

What To Expect From The Sierras

The natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is hard to overstate, with beautiful forests, isolated lakes, bare mountain peaks and a dozen tops at over fourteen thousand feet above sea level. You can spend several weeks exploring along the tops of the mountain range and stay mainly above the tree line, or you can take strolls around a lake shore, or even go scrambling through a canyon and have a little swim.
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The presence of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks means many trails are well maintained and marked, but you can enjoy some real adventure if you go off piste to some of the more remote parts of the range.

Great Long Distance Routes

The John Muir Trail is one of the most popular long distance hiking routes in the country, and coming in at around three weeks for most people, it takes hikers through some amazing scenery, and finishes with an ascent of Mount Whitney. This is one of the most challenging hikes, and while you can hike it independently, you can also follow an organized trip where the packs are transported to the next campsite, and a hot meal is prepared for you each night. The White Mountain Crest hike is another option that is usually covered in around five days and really heads out into some of the less traveled areas, so make sure everything you carry in is packed out, with nothing but footprints left behind.

Shorter Hikes In The Sierra Nevada Mountains[post_ads_2]

When it comes to day hikes, there are plenty of options available, with the most challenging day walk usually considered to be climbing the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, where there are ropes permanently fixed into the rock to help you get to the top. The Panorama Trail is another stunning day walk that covers around ten miles, passing beautiful waterfalls and some superb mountain scenery. In the Kings Canyon National Park, the North Grove Trail is just a few hours for most people, but takes in some of the amazing giant sequoias that are such an impressive part of this region.

Equipment And Footwear

Making sure that you have everything you need to complete your journey safely is very important, so if you are heading out for a day walk make sure you take plenty of water, lunch and a few snacks, along with sunscreen if you are going in the summer. For longer journeys, if you are traveling independently, make sure you have all of your camping equipment, cooking gear and enough supplies to last your trip, along with a little extra for emergencies. If you are only hiking in the National Park for an hour or two, light walking trainers will usually be fine, but for more adventurous trips, a good pair of sturdy boots is recommended.

Safety Precautions And Important Preparations[post_ads_2]

On longer hikes, make sure you give yourself plenty of time, particularly if you are going on the Half Dome ascent, as this is quite a long day, and you don't want to be caught out in the dark. It is also important to be realistic about your fitness, and to tackle a hiking challenge that is really appropriate. If you are heading out on the John Muir Trail or a similar route, make sure you have trained for the expedition, and that you will be able to enjoy yourself on the final day on Mount Whitney.

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Travel Magazine: Planning Your Hiking Trip In The Sierra Nevada Mountains
Planning Your Hiking Trip In The Sierra Nevada Mountains
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