Trip Report: Backpacking Virginia Pass an awesome multiday lollipop loop
Day 1: Looking back at Dunderburg Peak and the Upper Frog Lakes /Virginia Lakes Basin.
If you're looking for an awesome backpacking loop in the Eastern Sierra near the Bridgeport area, look no further! This "lollipop loop" has spectacular views, well made trails, incredible camping spots and a moderate to low amount of elevation gain. This post details the route, some quick conditions and a few shots of what it looked like before Monday's storm.
Our goal was to do a loop with up to 10 miles per day and 3,000 vertical feet in the Humboldt-Toiyabe or Inyo National Forest, but sticking fairly close to Tahoe to limit our driving time. Our loop started at Virginia Lakes, going to East Lake and Virginia Pass and back to Summit Lake and returning to the trailhead.
Mileage: 19.25 miles
Terrain: Class 2
Elevation Start (Virginia Lakes Trailhead): 9,800'
Elevation Max: 11,100'
Conditions: Mostly dry, with some sections of soft dry and soft wet snow, some parts of the trail were snow packed into ice by foot traffic. Snow up to 14" deep in drifts.
Overview Map: Day 1: Virginia Lakes to East Lake, Day 2: East Lake to Virginia Pass to Summit Lake, Day 3: Summit Lake to Virginia Lakes Trailhead.
Day 1 Profile
Day 2 Profile
Day 3 Profile
In total the route was 19.25 miles with a total gain of 5800'. The terrain is second class, but some lingering snow from the last storm added a bit of difficulty and made for some wet shoes. Overall, the best footwear for the trip would have been high top, Gore-Tex hiking boots or trail runners. It was manageable with low top trail runners, but wet feet for part of the trip was unavoidable.
Day 1: East Lake from the trail.
Day 2: Virginia Peak from Virginia Basin after Virginia Pass...That's a lot of Virginias...
Day 2: Camp at Summit Lake on night 2.
Day 3: Returning to the Virginia Lakes Basin, with Hoover Lakes and Dunderburg Peak in the background.
After the recent storms, expect deep snow, especially on north aspects. Some warm, waterproof hiking boots with low gaiters would probably get you through, since Monday's storm, but with the incoming weather there will soon be enough to warrant snowshoes.