Bear Lakes > Royce Lakes overnighter (High Sierra)


Jan 11, 2018

The fabled Bear Lakes Basin has been on my to do list for several years. There's no easy way in between the mileage, elevation gain, and 12-13,000 foot passes. I decided to suck it up and do it as an overnighter. My original plan was to loop back over Feather Pass through French Canyon and back over Pine Creek Pass, but with the late snow melt and associated mosquitoes, staying above treeline as much as possible seemed more appealing. Instead I found a alternate pass into Royce Lakes, then dropped down a glacial slabbed drainage to Honeymoon Lake (the normal approach for the N Buttress of Merriam Peak). Unfortunately, my fur niece, Pika, had torn ACLs and could not join me.

Start/end: Pine Creek trailhead (alt routes from Mosquito Flat TH and over Cox Col near Bear Creek Spire, or from Piute Pass TH via French Canyon)
Mileage: ~21 miles
Elevation gain: 6200'+
Navigation: topo map at a minimum, includes x-country travel
Filterable water: many creeks and lakes
Backcountry permits (overnight trips): White Mt Ranger Station in Bishop (reservable online)
Dogs: allowed
Nearest town/gas: Bishop, CA

Approximate Route
dotted line = off-trail

Trailhead to Honeymoon Lake
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to Granite Park/Italy Pass

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Italy Pass and Bear Lakes Basin
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Royce Lakes to trailhead
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Wow- stunning area, beautiful photos. Stellar reflections in some of the photos. Did this TR loose the map with the approximate route?
It's impressive that you can hike at those altitudes, did you feel well acclimated?
Enjoy the Pyrenees (traveled through there many times as a kid).
Wow, thanks! Great timing. I’m heading to that area in a couple weeks. These pictures are getting me psyched!
@Titans I'm finally feeling acclimated, so that helped. Not sure what's you're asking about the map. I'm excited to check out the Pyrenees. I usually visit one of the Alps, so hoping I'll be more likely to get decent weather.

@McKee80 I have more specifics on passes, route alternatives, and conditions. Let me know if you have any questions.
@Titans I'm finally feeling acclimated, so that helped. Not sure what's you're asking about the map. I'm excited to check out the Pyrenees. I usually visit one of the Alps, so hoping I'll be more likely to get decent weather.

Excellent- awesome you feel acclimated!
I now see the map clearly on the iPad, earlier on the computer I just saw a a little box with a question mark, it didn’t load. All good now, thanks.
Wow, not sure how I missed this one initially. Fantastic looking trip. Amazing scenery, all just in an overnighter!
Awesome pics!

I've done three trips thru the Bear Lakes region and agree: Def my favorite area outside of the Parks, but even including those it's up there.

The scenery is fantastic, the going relatively mild and the plethora of hike- able passes makes route planning super fun.
Very cool. Been looking for something to do in this area and this looks great. Thanks for sharing.
I missed this initially, but it popped up under @McKee80's recent trip report. Between the two reports, it looks like I have another High Sierra spot to check out.
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