This alternative route travels through forest and then joins the Navajo Lake trail, a popular hike to a pretty alpine lake basin surrounded by high peaks. The combined route involves less elevation gain then the Navajo Lake trail but is 2.6 miles (round trip) longer.
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Why Hike Kilpacker Trail to Navajo Lake
There are two access routes to the Navajo Lake basin from the south, the Navajo Lake trail and the Kilpacker trail. The two trails meet and share the final 2.6 miles of the Navajo Lake trail to the lake.
The Kilpacker trail starts higher (10,060-ft. versus 9,320-ft.) and does not involve as much elevation gain, but is longer adding 1.3 miles to the one way distance. (The Kilpacker Trail replaces the initial 2.2 miles of the Navajo Lake trail with a 3.5 mile segment.) It should be noted that the Kilpacker trail loses elevation to reach the Navajo Lake trail junction, making the net elevation difference about 520-ft.
Views on the Navajo Lake trail are better, steadily improving as you climb. The Kilpacker trailhead, located in a large meadow to the west of Morgan Camp, initially features great views of the surrounding peaks as it heads northwest through the meadows. At 0.6 miles the trail enters a mixed conifer forest with only occasional views until it meets the Navajo Lake trail.
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