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Dusy-Ershim Trail

Difficulty Rating: MOST DIFFICULT

Recommended for advanced drivers. A route requiring a high degree of skill and challenge to travel. Not recommended for full-size pickups long wheel base vehicles or for traveling alone.

NOTICE: John Muir and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness boundaries begin on each side of the Dusy-Ershim OHV Route, which is 300 feet from the center fine of the route in both directions, or 600 feet wide, or as posted by signs on the ground.

Directions to Route:


From Fresno:

  1. Take Highway 168 toward Shaver Lake.

  2. Turn right on Dinkey Creek Rd. (next to the Shell Station).

  3. At Shaver Lake Once you reach Dinkey Creek (about 10 mi) turn right on McKinley Grove Rd.

  4. Follow this for another 13 miles and turn left on Courtright Rd.

  5. Follow the road 8 miles, turn left to Courtright Reservoir.

  6. Cross the dam on the east side of the lake and stay on the road to the Dusy-Ershim OHV Route sign.

  7. Shaver Lake is 45 miles east of Fresno. Courtright Reservoir is 32 miles south of Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest.

  8. The route begins at 8,400 feet elevation with many open rocky areas. Be aware that portions of the trail cross large granite slabs and are marked with rocks. Elevation rises to 10,000 feet at Thompson Lake, remaining at the 9,000 to 10,000 foot range for the rest of the route.

The Route:

The first mile of the route is shared with foot and horse traffic. Please be considerate of other users and allow them safe passage.

Voyager Rock Campground has fire grates and tables and is a popular camping area for fishing Courtright Reservoir. Leaving the campground keep to the left as the "fun" begins at Chicken Rock, a definite attention getter. The panoramic view of the Le Cords Divide from the top is breath taking. The route wanders on to Dusy Creek where 4WD enthusiasts built the crossing over the creek.

Three hours ahead, is the very challenging stretch of road known as "Thompson Hill". Vehicles should have a body lift, running fairly cool and hitting on all cylinders. Even tires with aggressive tire tread will benefit with reduced air pressure. Even with all of this preparation, several stops may be necessary to throw a few rocks in the right places for traction. Access into Thompson Lake is closed at the wilderness boundary. A camping site with room for a few vehicles and tents is available here. The walk to the lake is short and easy.

Continuing on the route, Summit Lake is about an hour from Thompson Lake. Summit Lake does not have a defined camping area, so please use care in choosing your site away from the meadow area.

The next stop available is East Lake, which is not visible from the route making it easy to miss. It's only a short walk to good fishing and an excellent photo spot with picturesque Dogtooth Peak in the background.

Ershim Lake is next with lots of space for camping and parking. Follow signs to campsites. The route from the top of Thompson Hill to Ershim Lake is fairly tame. However, the scenery becomes more interesting than the challenge of the route. This will soon change.

It will take about three hours to cover the four miles to Lakecamp Lake. Rainbow Trout make Lakecamp unique as the other lakes along this route have Brook Trout. Another fishing spot, Mallard Lake, is an easy 20 minute walk beyond Lakecamp.

The next four difficult miles to Whitebark Vista will test driving skills, but the panoramic views make it worth the effort. The route ends at Whitebark Vista. Many people prefer use this White Bark Vista as a starting point. Huntington Lake is about 30 minutes away.


  1. Voyager Rock (3 miles 1/2 hour)

  2. Thompson Lake (11 miles 6 hours)

  3. Summit Lake (14 miles 7 hours)

  4. East Lake (17 miles 10 hours)

  5. Ershim Lake (22 miles 13 hours)

  6. Lakecamp Lake (26 miles 16 hours)

  7. Kaiser Pass (31 miles 2 to 3 days)

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.

If you pack it in, please pack it out. Keep your forest clean and green.

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