This loop trip encompasses the headwaters of Granite Creek in the incredibly scenic western end of the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Sierra National Forest on the southern border with Yosemite National Park.. Originally included in the lands set aside as the forest reserve that became Yosemite National Park; this area was removed in 1905 when the park’s area was reduced to remove inholdings and make for a more manageable preserve. In 1931 the area was set aside as the Mt. Dana-Minarets Primitive Area and expanded and permanently protected as the Minarets Wilderness Area with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. It was named after Ansel Adams with an expansion in 1984.
The route covers over 36 miles and can be done in three days. From Clover Meadow the loop trail passes the Fernandez Trailhead and continues on the Walton Trail towards Slab Lakes. Views of the Ritter Range and the Triple Divide Peak area increase as elevation is gained. Numerous lake basins offer excellent camping opportunities off the main trail. Slab Lakes can be crowded with solitude-seekers, as the lake basin appears to be the among most remote.
After a first night out, continue on the Post Peak Trail over Post Peak Pass and Isberg Pass. This section of trail was built in 1905, when part of Yosemite, under the direction of the acting superintendent, Captain H. C. Benson, 4th Cavalry. The famous “T” blazes, cut by the Cavalry, can still be seen on some ancient lodgepole pines.
Below Isberg Pass numerous lakes offer excellent camping with views toward the Fish Creek and Silver Divide region of the John Muir Wilderness . The trek back to Clover Meadow follows pretty Granite Creek through a series of flower filled meadows in the summer and small aspen groves with willows and alders turning a bright yellow in the fall. At the Niche, a break in the granite cliffs marking the wilderness boundary, views of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin basin extend to the south. The trail descends through a red fir forest that morphs into a mixed yellow pine forest before reaching the Isberg Trailhead. Cross the road and continue through the Granite Creek campground to the old Mammoth Trail to return to the parking area.
The trailhead is at the Clover Meadow Ranger Station at the eastern end of the Sierra Scenic Byway. Water is available during summer months. From Fresno travel through Oakhurst on Highway 41 and turn right on Road 222, turn left on the Beasore Road near Bass Lake. Continue about 32 miles, past the Minaret Pack Station turnoff, to the Ranger Station. It should take about one hour and fifteen minutes from Oakhurst.