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Hike to Upper Jackass, Burro Lakes and Beyond

Jackass Burro Lakes Topog August 26 2015r

The skies were cloudy as we headed up Beasore Rd. It rained lightly for a while but didn’t last near long enough. It made everything smell nice and fresh for a short while though.


Where: Sierra National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Distance: 8.81 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Range: 6,641’ – 9,678’

Date: August 26, 2015


We headed up Beasore Rd. to the Jackass Lakes Trailhead for this hike. I didn’t capture the exact mileage but it is about 40 miles or so from the beginning of Beasore Rd.  You can also take this hike from the Norris Creek Trailhead, a little farther up and off of a spur on the left side of Beasore Rd.  The route in off of the Norris Trailhead starts at about the 7,250′ elevation, and you would have about 2,400′ elevational gain.  The route in from the Jackass Lakes Trailhead starts at 6,641′ elevation, gaining about 1,600′ in the first mile and a half and a total elevational gain of about 3,000′. There isn’t a whole lot of difference in the distance. It just depends on what type of workout you are aiming for!  Just in case your are wondering, these stats are from my prior hikes in the area and the elevation may vary a bit because my numbers depend on when you remember to turn your GPS on.


Jackass Lakes Trailhead Parking Area


Jackass Lakes Trailhead


View to the South, Looking at Smoke from the Rough Fire

The trailhead starts a pretty good uphill grade right from the start. It wasn’t long before we could look at great views to the south where the Rough Fire was burning. It was laying down nicely this morning and we could see that monsoonal moisture heading north.

The trail that we took kept taking us uphill but the steepness was not what it had been. We bypassed lower Jackass Lake because we wanted to try and make it higher up for this adventure.P1140491 (2)r

When we made it to the middle of the Jackass Lakes, the water was like glass. The reflections from Madera Peak, along with trees and rocks, created mirror images in the lake. It was beautiful.

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Middle Jackass Lake Reflections

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Middle Jackass Lake Reflections

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Middle Jackass Lake Reflections

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Middle Jackass Lake Reflections









We headed around the east side of the lake where we made our way to Upper Jackass Lake. Although the trail was pretty well marked toward the beginning, there were portions where it disappeared but we could make our way up on the trail, watching for the snake tracks of a trail and some ducks aka cairns. It would be easy to lose the trail in this stretch if you aren’t paying really good attention.  It also didn’t help that mountain bikers had rode through some areas in this Wilderness Area where mountain bikes are not allowed, short-cutting the switchbacks to avoid the rocky areas, obliterating the trail in a few places and causing erosion potential in their newly created shortcuts.P1140476r

The views along the trail were amazing. We could see Lower Jackass Lake and those clouds just made it even prettier.


View to the Southeast with Lower Jackass Lake

When we arrived at Upper Jackass Lake, there was a slight breeze, which didn’t allow for reflections. It was still mighty pretty though.


Upper Jackass Lake

Now, this is the part of the hike that gets a little trickier and is off trail. If you are not comfortable going off trail, this part of the hike is not for you. We headed around the east side of the lake until we could spot a way up a ramp that took us up through the granite to Burro Lake. As soon as we topped over to get our first glimpse of Burro Lake, I was blown away by those reflections. Wow!

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Burro Lake

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Burro Lake Reflections








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Burro Lake

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Burro Lake


























As we walked along the short grass along the lake, there were gazillions of tiny frogs hopping out every which way. I have never seen so many little frogs in such a small place. They were swimming in the pond, along with tons of tadpoles.


Tiny Frogs in Burro Lake

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Gazillions of Tadpoles in Burro Lake


















But there was an alien lurking in Burro Lake. It looked so wierd to me, that is what it looked like. I had never seen anything like this giant bug that looked kind of like a giant tick.

After I got home, I did some surfing and think it is some sort of Giant Water Bug, also known as “toe-biters” and “alligator ticks.” This bug was about 5 inches long. I learned that they are quite the predator, feeding on fish, snakes, frogs and other pond life. They often lie motionless at the bottom of a body of water, attached to various objects, where they wait for prey to come near. They then strike, injecting a powerful digestive saliva and sucking out the liquefied remains. Their bite is considered one of the most painful that can be inflicted by any insect; however, though excruciatingly painful, it is of no medical significance. Adults cannot breathe under water, and must surface periodically for air. When a larger predator such as a human encounters them, they have been known to “play dead” and emit a fluid from their anus. Due to this they are assumed dead by humans only to later “come alive” with painful results.

There are several videos online that you can watch if you Google “giant water bug video,” showing them attack and kill snakes and fish much larger than themselves. I didn’t include links to these because they are kind of graphic and I know some of you don’t want to see that.

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Giant Water Bug

We headed up toward the inlet that fed into Burro Lake, looking at the tadpoles and admiring the reflections.

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Burro Lake Inlet



Small Lake Above Burro Lake

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Small Lake Above Burro Lake


Steve said he knew of a good lunch spot, so we kept working out way up, past a couple of small lakes to where the mountain dropped straight off, with views of Lady Lake and the surrounding mountains. During our lunch, we picked out peaks and passed that we had traveled through or daydreamed that we would someday.



Our Lunch Spot with a View of Lady Lake

What a great lunch spot that was. It was time to head back down. The clouds had really dissipated from the morning but still created some nice views as we made our way back down the trail.P1140528r


Jackass Burro Lakes Profile August 26 2015


Giant Water Bug Wikipedia


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