Weekend Getaway: Gem Lake – Emigrant Wilderness, CA

When it comes to camping, I am a huge fan of non-quota trails and regions where reservations are unnecessary. My typical itineraries are one-night weekend trips, which I usually don’t commit to until 1-3 days beforehand. For this reason I tend to gravitate toward spots where I’m guaranteed to get a permit without the hassle of a reservation—which is why the Emigrant Wilderness ranks highly on my list of ideal weekend getaways.

Here’s a look at my trip from the Crabtree Trailhead to Gem Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness. At the bottom of the post you will find an overview of the trip with basic details and other considerations to help you plan this trip as well.

Happy Camping! 

Entrance to Emigrant Wilderness from Crabtree Trailhead

Camp Lake

Camp Lake

Passing Camp Lake from the trail

Incredible rock formations

Panorama before descent into the valley

Approaching the first major ascent

The rewards of uphill

Getting down to earth

Rock N Roll

View from the trail

Piute Lake

Gem Lake

Trip Information

Location: Emigrant Wilderness, Northern California.        

Hiking Route: Semi-loop beginning and ending at Crabtree Trailhead. (See map below)

Camp: Gem Lake

Distance/Elevation Gain: ~20miles total. ~10 to Gem Lake. ~2,500 ft. elevation gain.

Permits: Required for overnight stays, but no quota. Pick up a permit at Pinecrest Summit Ranger Station.

Campfires: Permitted. They request you use existing fire rings only.

Additional Information: For additional info on the Sierras, I have found this site very useful: SIERRAWILD.GOV

Trip Route. Red = Day 1. Yellow = Day 2 return