I had heard about Jennie Lakes from various hiker forums while looking for fly fishing spots near Sequoia and Kings Canyon. The Jennie Lakes Wilderness is located about 60 miles due east of Fresno and is sandwiched between Sequoia National Park to the south and Kings Canyon National Park to the north. Nestled in the Sequoia National Forest, the Jennie Lakes Wilderness is chock full of meadows, lakes, and mountain views.
I scouted out a route that my wife and I could hike from the Big Meadows campground to Jennie Lake and just relax by the lake for a couple of nights, enjoying the meadows, stars and fly fishing.
For the previous several years, this area had been in drought conditions and the trail up was very dry and dusty. There were also fires burning near Yosemite causing a smoky haze to hang over King's Canyon that was visible through most of the trip.
I had chosen this time of the year in hopes of getting a great, unobstructed view of the Perseid meteor shower which occurs in mid-August every year and peaks around August 14. The hike to Jennie Lake took about 3-4 hours, with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain in around 5.4 miles. There were sections that were pretty strenuous, but overall, it's a moderate trail.
When we arrived at the lake, I was pleasantly surprised to see we were the first group to arrive, which was shocking for arriving on a Saturday. Due to the popularity of this spot, I was expecting to be camping with at least a dozen or so other campers. We set up camp with a nice view of the lake, a spot for the hammock, and there were some great flat rocks nearby that made an excellent kitchen and dining room table.
After setting up camp, a man arrived with a pack train carrying gear for a large group, possibly 8-10 people. My wife wasn't worried about the number of people, she was asking me why I didn't hire him to carry our gear. The group, while rather large, camped a good distance from us and was very courteous and quiet.
We set up the fly rods and set out to test the waters for some of the famed trout that are known to be in the waters of Jennie Lakes. I'm not sure if it was due to the extreme drought conditions or if the fish just weren't liking what I was offering, but we caught very few and had very few takes. Nonetheless, the scenery is spectacular.
We were still a little early for the peak of the Perseids, and the moon was full providing far too much light pollution to see the meteor shower, but I still had another 4 or 5 nights in the wilderness to see them.
On our second day, we took a day trip around the area to check out some of the lovely meadows and views out to Sequoia and King's Canyon. We hiked out of Jennie Lake around Poop Out Pass and made a loop back to Jennie Lake.
On day 3, we enjoyed some breakfast, a little more fishing, and then packed up and headed back.
I would like to come back to this area again some time and would highly recommend this trip for a relatively easy 3-4 day trip. The logistics of getting to the trailheads for Jennie Lake are very easy. The elevation is not too terribly high. I think Jennie Lake is at around 9,000 feet and you're starting at around 7,600 feet. Definitely bring the fly rods, I hear the fishing normally is very good. As you'll see in my Part 2 entry, my son and I did much better at some other lakes in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness, so fish are here.