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Highland Lakes is a nice place where I take a break or spend a night as I hike by linking up my Southbound Tahoe to Yosemite trail with the Pacific Crest Trail via Highland Lakes.
Highland Lakes is also an excellent place to begin or end hiking trips, as it's well maintained dirt road brings us to the Highland Lakes and Gardner Meadow Trailheads.
The Highland Lakes Trailhead leads down Highland Creek to the Jenkins Canyon trail junction along the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail. Hiking out of Gardner Meadow brings you to the Pacific Crest Trail at Wolf Creek Pass, but not before you pass by the trail junction running along both Arnot and Disaster Creeks leading down to the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail along the Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus River.
A web of trails run into, out of, and across the trailheads at Highland Lakes, making this an excellent place to start backpacking loops around the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
The Big Picture
Tahoe to Yosemite and linking trails on the Carson Iceberg Wilderness Topo Hiking Map.