where is the best easy trail to find pikas in California?
I was curious to get your opinion. I really want to help my wife see some pikas for the first time and the usual spot I got to in Mineral King is way too difficult of a hike for her. I was trying to look at spots that had a less hectic hike to see them and so far the best I have come up with is maybe the 20 lakes basin(saddleback lake) trail near Lee Vining? Any other ideas? Has anyone been to the 20 lakes basin trail, does it take a long time to reach where the pikas are? Thanks for reading everyone.
Saddlebag Lake has a boat-taxi that takes hikers across the lake in “summer” on a regular schedule for a fair price. It has been about 5 years for me but I saw Pikas on the far side of the lake, and the boat cuts several hours out of the hike. “Summer” depends on the amount of snow in winter. Details can surely be found on-line. Good luck.
I’ve been doing scouting for similar reasons in the tahoe area. My regilar Pika spot is at American lake in Desolation Wilderness, but that is a 6-mile hike in so for morning or evening access you pretty much have to spend the night. I have also found Pika above the Pacific Crest Trail where it passes Tamarack and Ralston lakes (the area surrounding the lakes themselves looks promising as well). This is a 3.5 mile hike in, and if you take the water taxi across ech lakes ($15 each way, though I’ve never actually tried it) that can be cut down to about a mile. There’s an inaturalist observation of a Pika at Angora lakes, which is about a .75 mile hike from the parking lot ($8 cash), but I wasn’t able to find any when I visited back in May.
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I have seen them twice very easily on the rocky slopes to the west of Tioga Pass along the trail to Gaylor Lake. It is an easy 10-15 minute walk uphill from the parking lot to reach the extensive rocky scree. Just clamber around a bit, sit, wait listen. Both times I tried (actually, the first time I was not even looking for them), I found the pikas within a few minutes of arriving.