Emigrant Wilderness: Crabtree Trailhead to Bear Lake (2 days / 13 km)

Beautiful view of Emigrant Wilderness Bear Lake

Crabtree Trailhead to Bear Lake is an excellent beginner backpacking route in Emigrant Wilderness. The route is only 6.5 kms each way and there is very little elevation gain (less than 300 m total). Plus, it's easy to plan a trip here because there are no quotas or reservations - you just need to call in advance to get a permit.

I hiked this trail with two other women and three dogs. We did the trail in May, so it was cold at night and there were some patches of snow. Even on the weekend, we only saw a few other hikers. Bear Lake is absolutely beautiful. This trip overdelivers on views relative to effort required!

Trip Completed: May 2022

Trip Summary:

Starting Point: Crabtree Trailhead

Ending Point: Crabtree Trailhead

Distance: 13 km

Elevation Gain: 295 m

Length: 1 nights / 2 days

Difficulty: Beginner


This route occurs in Emigrant Wilderness, which is part of Stanislaus National Forest.

Traditional Territory: This route occurs in the traditional territory of the Miwok, Me-Wuk (Central Sierra Miwok) and Nüümü (Northern Paiute) (source).

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: No guidebook was used for the route.

Map: We used the AllTrails map for Crabtree Trailhead to Bear Lake. We found it to be accurate throughout the hike.

Camping Permits: There is no quota or reservation system for camping in Emigrant Wilderness. You do need a permit, which can be booked by phone or self-issued at the ranger station upon arrival. If booking by phone, you can only book your permit within three days of your departure.

Outfitters & Shuttles

Outfitters: There are no outfitters in this area. We had our own gear, however, if you don't have gear, you can rent from REI or Sports Basement prior to leaving.

Shuttles: A shuttle is not needed, as this route starts and ends at the same trailhead.

Know Before You Go

Season: This route is best hiked between late June and September. Depending on snow levels, it...

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