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Hiking up to Cora Lakes

We hiked up to lakes that were smooth as glass and full of reflections. A really nice, big, flat rock made a dandy place for lunch and a siesta.

Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 9.19 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 9,130′ – 8,434′
Date: September 1, 2016
Maps: Merced Peak Topographic Quads
Dog Hike? Maybe

We drove up Beasore Road to the fork in the road that goes to Clover Meadow. This makes a good rest stop before you head up the trail because there is a bathroom here, not a fancy one but the one-holer serves its purpose and was clean the last time I stopped. We didn’t stop this time but wanted you to know where it is. Shortly after passing the Clover Meadow Ranger Station, the road forks and we followed the signs for the  Isberg Trailhead sign. We parked at the parking lot on the right side of the road, which had bear boxes where we stashed our after hike snacks. The trail starts across the road, which was missing the sign on this trip. I don’t think you could miss the trail though and the trail was well signed on the way up.

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This trail is well traveled by both people and stock. The trail was a bit like walking on a beach at the beginning due to the deeper sandy soil, then gained elevation on a more rocky trail as we headed up toward The Niche where the East Fork of Granite Creek has carved through.


Photo by Debra Kincaid

Once through The Niche, we followed the sign to Cora Lakes, stopping to take pictures along the way of course.

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Although our hike was in September and most flowers had long disappeared, we were surprised to see some in the damper areas.


P1020886rP1020885r Photos by Debra Kincaid

And suddenly there was Cora Lake! There are two lakes and this one was the lower one.

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Who were these Cora Lakes named after? Yosemite Place Names says that Cora Creek and Cora Lake were named by R. B. Marshall of the United State Geological Survey (USGS) for Mrs. Cora Cressey Crow, possibly his Mother-in-law. It says that Elizabeth Lake is another appearance of the name “Crow”.

I thought I would start with Robert Bradford Marshall, Geographer for the USGS.  Well, Robert was born 1867 Amelia County, Virginia and married Myra Arethusa Crow 1896 Crows Landing, Stanislaus County, California.

On the 1870 Census, it appears that Robert’s mother, Halla, born 1839 Virginia may be widowed. I took a peek at Spencer Mann on the 1850 and 1860 census and he has a daughter Harriet A. Mann, born 1839 Virginia.  I think this is probably his daughter on the 1850 census, his wife’s name is Lucy A.

1870 Census Robert B MARSHALL

1870 Census Amelia Co., Virginia Robert B. Marshall

Robert B. Marshall is with his mother on the 1880 census and his mother is going by the name of Hallie. You probably wonder why I chased that down. Well, I wanted to make sure that his mother’s name wasn’t Cora.

1880 Census Robert B MARSHALL

1880 Census Amelia Co., Virginia Robert B. Marshall

On the 1870 census, Myra appears to be a daughter of John Bradford Crow and Judith (Julia)Ann Allen. And lookie here: Cassier/Cassius is also a son of John B. Crow.

1870 Census Cora CROW

1870 Crows Landing, Stanislaus Co., CA Census with Myra Crow

I figured I should go back and look at the 1860 census since the children were shown born there and they hadn’t moved to California yet. Cassius hadn’t been born yet but the rest of the kids are there. Note that John B. Crow has a different wife here with Martha D., born circa 1830 Kentucky.

1860 Census JOHN B CROW

1860 Census Pike Co., Missouri John B. Crow

Of course I couldn’t help trying to find more about Cora. I found her and her husband Cassius on the 1900 census and you will notice that they are living next to John B. Crow. She was born November 1867 San Jose, California, married Cassius Clinton Crow 1884 in Alameda, California. Cassius was the son of John Bradford Crow and Susan Pritchett.  By 1885, Cora and Cassius Crow were living at Crows Landing, Stanislaus County, when their son Paul Bradford was born.

1900 Census Cassius Cora CROW

1900 Newman, Stanislaus Co., CA Census Cassius & Cora Crow

So Myra, born 1869 and Cassius, born 1860 appear to me to be brother and sister! So, if I have this all figured out, Cora was Robert B. Marshall’s sister-in-law, not mother-in-law! According to the California Death Index, Cora died March 6, 1928 and Myra died 1953. The information on each of these on Find a Grave show different parents for each of them. So maybe I don’t have it figured out at all!

But here is a picture of Robert Bradford Marshall so you can see who this person who named so many of our local lakes looked like.

Robert B. Marshallr

Robert Bradford Marshall

We walked alongside the lake and right there in front of me the grass was full of small, hopping frogs. They were darn near impossible to get a picture of them because they weren’t staying put. Can you spot the frog?


We headed the short distance uphill to the upper Cora Lake. I couldn’t believe the crystal clear reflections on the lake.

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The grass that framed the lake had a fall feel to it. The earlier season green grass was in the middle of transitioning to yellow and brown colors.

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We had arrived mid morning and wondered if we might be able to make it up to Sadler Lake. After looking the map over to determine distance, we decided that we could also just relax at Cora Lake instead.

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Did I mention how beautiful the reflections were? Even in the lake scum, reflections did their best to pop out.

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We had the lakes to ourselves! We found a big rock to hang out on, had our lunch and took it easy.



Photo by Debra Kincaid

Some took a little nap and Deb chased after dragonflies.


Photo by Debra Kincaid

We had a really fun hike. Most of the time, it seems we are moving fast and don’t have or take the time to really stay put, investigate and relax at our destinations. I think we should take this approach more often.


Deb, Gail, Me, Steve (Photo by Debra Kincaid’s Camera)

Map and Profile:

Cora Lake Topog

Cora Lakes Topographic Map

Cora Lake Profile

Cora Lakes Profile

Dog Friendly?

This hike can be a good one for your dog, if your dog is a good fit for this hike. Later in the year, water sources are pretty well dried up except for the lakes so will need to pack water for your dog. Additional hazards include the local wildlife such as coyote, bear, mountain lions, deer and rattlesnakes. Hikers share the trail with stock and you don’t want you dog to cause an accident or get kicked. Below are the dog rules from the Ansel Adams Wilderness:

  • Dogs are allowed in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, but are not allowed in wilderness areas in adjacent national parks.
  • Pet food must be stored to the same standard as people food. In areas where use of a bear resistant food storage container is required, pet food must be stored in your container.
  • Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from wilderness hazards such as porcupines, mountain lions, and sick, injured or rabid animals.
  • Unleashed dogs may intimidate other hikers and their dogs, depriving them of a peaceful wilderness experience.
  • Unleashed dogs may harass, injure and sometimes kill wildlife.
  • A leashed dog’s keen senses can enhance your awareness of nearby wildlife or other visitors.

Prior Blogs in this Area:

Hiking up the Isberg Trail to Surprise Saddle April 15, 2015


Browning, Peter, Yosemite Place Names: the Historic Background of Geographic Names in Yosemite National Park, Great West Books, Layfayette, CA, 1988

Robert B. Marshall Bio Water Education Foundation

1860 Census: Census Place: Indian, Pike, Missouri; Roll: M653_639; Page: 401; Image: 405; Family History Library Film: 803639

1870 Census: Census Place: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, California; Roll: M593_92; Page: 81B; Image: 94417; Family History Library Film: 545591

1880 Census: Census Place: Jackson, Amelia, Virginia; Roll: 1353; Family History Film: 1255353; Page: 64C; Enumeration District: 003

1900 Census: Census Place: Newman, Stanislaus, California; Roll: 115; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0055; FHL microfilm: 1240115

Myra Crow and Robert B. Marshall Find a Grave

Cora Cressey Crow Find a Grave

Ansel Adams Wilderness

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  1. There is no mention of mosquitoes. Were any encountered?

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