Difficulty Rating: MOST DIFFICULT
For experienced drivers. Short wheel base vehicles
recommended only, from Exchequer Meadow to
Hatch Lake trail junction.
The Swamp Lake OHV Route may be reached
from either Willow Meadow or Exchequer
Meadow. This description starts at the east near
Exchequer Meadow and ends near Willow Meadow
west of Dinkey Creek.
Directions to Swamp Meadow Route
From Dinkey Creek Ranger Station, go south 300
yards and turn left onto McKinley Grove Road.
Travel 2.5 miles to the "Swamp Lake Vehicle
Way" sign on the right. Follow this graded, oil and
gravel road for three miles. At the fork, turn left
and drive 1.1 miles until it forks again. Again take
the left fork for 0.8 miles to the trailhead gate on
The route is a low-standard logging road for the
first mile, and then deteriorates into a four wheel
drive road as it climbs higher up the mountain.
There are stretches that are rough for trail bikes, negotiating
over and around numerous large boulders.
Traveling in 4WD and granny gear, new vistas begin
to appear through the trees. The awesome canyons
of the Kings River can be seen to the south.
To the east across Ruby Creek, the imposing,
blocky, granite summit of 10,218 foot Nelson
Mountain dominates the scene.
At the 3.5 mile mark there are two small campsites
and the hiking trail to Hatch Lake. Near one of the
campsites is a small spring of water which supports
a natural garden of wildflowers. Start at the campsite
on the south side of the OHV route for an easy,
20 minute hike to Hatch Lake. The fishing at
Hatch Lake is surprisingly good because only a few
people take the time or effort to hike.
Beyond the trail to Hatch Lake, the route climbs a
few steep switchbacks and tops a 9,300 foot ridge revealing
the headwaters of Dinky Creek. Once across
the pass, clear views of the LeConte Divide and
13,568 foot Mt. Goddard define the distant horizon.
The road switchbacks down the shaded north side of
the ridge, dropping 600 feet in elevation in about a
After crossing a fork of Dinkey Creek, take the route
to the left to avoid the private property at Mud
Lakes. From this point on, the route becomes a short
wheel base road and is very difficult. Only experienced
drivers with short wheel based vehicles should
attempt to go any farther. Trail bike riders should
walk the road first before deciding whether to proceed.
The road starts to climb steeply and it is very
rocky and slow going. After about 1.5 miles of steep
grade, it levels off for the short distance to Grouse
Lake. You may want to try your hand at fishing
The route gains elevation quickly on its way to the
ridge. Park vehicles at the top of the 9,600 foot pass
and take in the grand vistas on foot, where panoramic
views of the surrounding lakes, meadows and
peaks can be seen.
Swamp Lake is only a short half mile down hill from
the OHV route, in a large bowl-like depression. The
name "Swamp" does little justice to the beauty of
The route winds its way around Swamp Lake past a
single campsite beside a Forest Service cabin (once
used by snow surveyors), then proceeds down a series
of very steep and narrow switchbacks. A small
miscalculation may turn into a costly mistake.
SWAMP OHV ROUTE
Sierra National Forest
Pacific Southwest Region
Sierra National Forest
Soon Miningtown Meadow will be in view, and
then Dinkey Creek, which will end the rough section
of road. Less than a mile is the gate and turnoff
to the Dinkey Lakes Trailhead. The OHV route
turns into a rough, passenger car road and gently
winds its remaining two miles to the gate at the
west end of the OHV route where it intersects with
a main logging road 9S10.
To return to the Dinkey Creek Ranger Station, turn
left onto the gravel road and travel 3 miles to the
intersection with 9S09. Turn left again for 7 miles
to the Dinkey Creek Road. Turn left, Dinkey
Ranger Station is 2.8 miles, or turn right at the intersection
of 9S09 which will take you to Highway
168 at Tamarack Ridge.
All Are Welcome
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion,
age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status (not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). Persons with disabilities who require alternative
means for communication of program information (braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s TARGET center at 202-720-2600
(voice and TDD).
To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington DC 20250 or call 1-800-245-6340 (voice) or 202-
720-1127 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity employer.
Camping Tips: There is no camping within 100 feet
from lakes, streams, trails and meadows. Campfire
permits are free and available at your local Forest
Service office. A campfire permit is required for:
wood fires, charcoal fires or portable gas stoves.
For More Information contact:
High Sierra Ranger District
P.O. Box 559
Prather, CA 93651
TDD (559) 855-5367