Back to index Lake Schmidell Hike Backpack (Day 2)
Trip Date:  06/26/2021

: 7.3 Miles

Vertical Gain: 900'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Schmidell to 4-Q Lakes Route
See video of this hike  See video of hike   Download GPX GPX for this trip
Schmidell to 4-Q Lakes Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N/A - This is a continuation from Day 1     End Coordinates:   N/A 
Car Shuttle Req'd:   N/A  Parking Directions:   N/A 
Hazards of Note:   The main section of trail past the Leland Lakes to 4-Q Lakes, called the McConnell trail is very rudimentary and difficult to follow without advanced navigation skills. Crowd Factor:   Low.   Once you leave Lake Schmidell the McConnell Trail was almost completely isolated during the entire day.
General Notes:
After crossing the Lake Schmidell outlet dam once again, retrace your steps back to the junction reached when first arriving at Lake Schmidell the previous day.   Continue straight on this trail, and you will quickly climb over the next mile up to the ridgeline to the north of Schmidell.   This spot offers a fantastic view down toward the Leland Lakes, as well as the area the McConnell Trail will continue through further north.

Once you drop down to the Leland Lakes and pass them, the trail will become very difficult to follow in places, but just stay near the granite rise on your left (to the west) as the trail bends around past McConnell Lake toward Horseshoe Lake.  From here you can take a short 1/3 mile side trip up to the north to Lake Zitella, or continue on to the 4-Q Lakes.   This section is the most difficult to follow on trail, as much of it is over open granite with cairns leading off in all directions.   Be sure to have a map, compass and GPS to navigate this section successfully.

Once you reach the 4-Q Lakes, head past the first three, and actually cross part of the water along the trail.   There is a perfect camping spot at the fourth lake, the one furthest to the east in the area where the lake bends around almost like a U.

Since this is a hike into Desolation Wilderness, you will need an overnight wilderness permit which includes all members of the group.

The Alpenglow sunrise at the lake was spectacular on this morning. Sunrise at the lake Ruining the view
Mark packing up as we perpare to head out for the day. Packing up 
It didn't take long for us to hit some serious elevation gain, but the view back toward Lake Schmidell was amazing. Early uphill
For a dry year we were out early enough to enjoy lots of water all along the way. Water everywhere
Although Red Mountain was temptingly close to peak bag, it wasn't on the agenda for this trip. Red Mountain
The incredible view from the overlook of Leland Lakes made this early climb completely worth the effort. Leland Lakes
Past Leland Lakes the trail is difficult to find, but we just kept navigating sections and successfully found McConnell Lake on our way. McConnell Lake
Our lunch stop was at Horseshoe Lake, which is billed as a lake warm enough to swim in, but not really in the early summer.   Brrrr! Horseshoe Lake
Lots of rock around to find a spot to hang out and rest. Taking a break 
I decided to take a quick detour up to Lake Zitella, which looks like a wonderful, pristine area to spend some time away from any Desolation Wilderness crowds.  On the way back down is a great view of Horseshoe Lake and much of the area crossed through during this day. Enjoying the view Horseshoe Lake
Although hard to make out, the sign warns that the trail beyond is not save for horse travel.   It is correct. Fair warning
Much of the next couple of miles consisted of route-finding over open granite. Trail?
Finally close to the 4-Q Lakes, we found a spot along the river to stop and rest and refill our water supplies. Another break
Passing the first of the 4-Q Lakes.   They are all really pretty and worth the effort to get here. 4-Q Lake 1
The fourth 4-Q Lake si where we found a great camping spot with some amazing lake views nearby. 4-Q Lake 4
Our home for the night. Campsite Campsite
Stillness along the lake at sunset. Sunset view
GPS track of the hike, starting at the bottom left and heading up and around on the McConnell trail and ending up at the 4-Q Lakes. GPS Track of the hike