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2,351 m
2,053 m
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2.3
4.5
9.01 km

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邻近 Loganville, California (United States)

Hiking/scrambling to Young America Lake is an adventure with awesome views! The destination is nice too.
Young America is a pretty little lake surrounded by majestic rock formations and tall ridges on three sides. This hike provides a wide variety of views and terrain.

I rate this as difficult for a hike. That is a caution to consider the hazards. Most people used to high country hiking can do it. I think it is less hazardous than skiing a black run and merits a similar level of respect. There are no maintained trails to the lake, steep slopes, loose scree, some low growing brush patches to pass through, boulders to climb over and sections where you need to use your hands to ascend or descend. This is not rock climbing and no special gear is required. You need good balance and be able to recover when the surface slips. Long pants were nice for the brush patches and that combined with no shade in the Young America basin is why I waited till cooler weather.

This was our first attempt and there may be better ways to get there than we found. I wanted a shorter route than the ones I’d read about so that we’d have more time to explore the lake.
We took a side trail from the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail along the ridge next to Young America and should have quickly left it where it turns back toward the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail. We were hoping to find a trail along the top of the ridge, but failing that we traversed below the top on the Tamarack Lakes side. That was cross county through an open forest finding sporadic sections of trail (human or animal?) as we headed to the nearest pass. The hillside we cut across on the way to the pass is pretty steep and the footing sometimes gave way being covered with duff and / or scree. It would be easy going if there is a trail we didn’t find.
From the pass we took the fall line from the ridge on the Young American side as no other options looked better. It starts out quite steep with scree that often gave way. I found better footing and secure hand holds by staying in fingers of low bushes extending down the slope. A companion stayed on the scree and slid down on his heels. That was fastest way down but requires more skill and daring. I advise keeping a wide distance between hikers so they have time to dodge dislodged rocks which don’t stop till the bottom. That was the most dangerous part of the hike. The slope moderates in an interesting jumble of large boulders of various types and colors that is easy to get through with a little trial and error. This half of the lake’s shore is boulders, occasional small cliffs and some bushes that can hide holes you don’t want to step in. The far side of the lake is mostly large cliffs and a rapidly ascending rock ridge.
Hank Meals describes a longer (and possibly brushier?) way to get to Young America from lower Sardine Lake in http://yubatreadhead.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-sierra-buttes-part-2-trails-to.html We used his route to climb to the top of the ridge from the lake on the way out. That route is visible in the middle of the picture of our way out as the pass leading to the left most trees on the top of the ridge. His route has the big advantage over our decent in that it is composed mostly of small boulders that don’t move when you step on them. Again wide spacing between hikers is advised. It is a 150’ climb rather than 425’ the way we came in. Our plan to follow the ridge west back to the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail was discouraged by the top of the ridge being composed large impressive rock formations on both sides of the ridge top that did not look friendly to hiking. From the pass, we took the easiest way down we could see by descending the ridge a little to the right which avoided slopes of scree. The decent through an open forest seemed less steep than the one to Young America and it is mostly firm and easy to cross at a moderate angle. It is the safer of our routes for getting in and out of Young America Lake from the Sierra Buttes Lookout trail or the Tamarack Lakes area. There are a lot of good choices after the slope lessens. We chose to visit upper Tamarack going cross country through easy terrain and used the PCT to get back to the Sierra Buttes Lookout Trail. Taking a trail just below the PCT to an old road doubling back toward the Sierra Buttes Lookout trailhead would have shaved a mile and some altitude off but we had plenty of time and energy left.
The pass we took to Young America is to the right before the ridge becomes crowned with rock formations in the picture taken from the Tamarack Lakes area. The pass out of Young America is to the left of the rock formations where first trees appear on the top of the ridge.

There are at least three other routes as described by Hank Meals from the Tamarack Connection Trail and by https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/bassetts-bassetts-37712123 from closer to the lookout and from the Sardine Lakes staying in the valley.

It took us 1.8 miles from the Sierra Buttes Trailhead upper parking to get to Young America Lake on the way in.
Our return trip from the Sardine Lakes end of Young America Lake to Upper Tamarack Lake took 0.7 miles.
If we had started at the Tamarack Lakes Trailhead on road 621 the hike would have been 3 miles to Young America. 1.9 miles if you have a lifted? 4x4 to drive to upper Tamarack on an occasionally difficult dirt road or very easy jeep trail.
Had we taken the most direct route from upper Tamarack to the Sierra Buttes Lookout trailhead on our return trip it would have been 2.5 miles from Young America.

There are no fees or facilities at the Sierra Buttes Lookout trailhead reached by paved roads until the last little bit which is an easy dirt road that does not require extra ground clearance. The second parking area you come to is at the trailhead and was less crowded than the first.

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