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Difficulty descriptions are by nature very subjective. The categories below represent generalized distinctions in terrain, level of commitment, time spent at elevation and overall trip duration. Level of commitment refers to the ability to opt out of activities such as peak ascents from a base camp. A committing trip requires a daily mileage to be completed each day.

These trips typically travel on groomed trails at a leisurely pace. You can expect maintained trails, gentle grades and more flexibility in terms of your destination for the day. Hikers will carry mainly the essentials in a light daypack and travel anywhere from 3 to 8 miles depending on the trip or preference.

Moderate- Basecamps
These include hiking, backpacking, or stock-supported trips that take place mostly on maintained trails to get to camp. These trips hike into a set basecamp and then offer optional destinations with varying degrees of challenge. You can expect modest climbs on uneven terrain. Total distances are often 4-7 miles of hiking per day over 3-4 days of hiking.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking or stock-supported trips. The trails can consist of uneven terrain with modest to difficult climbs and some steep passes (gains of 1000-2000’). These trips are typically 3-5 days in duration but can be longer. For backpacking trips, they can include carrying a fully weighted pack (30-42lbs) and travel 6-10 miles per day.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking, backpacking or stock-supported trips with uneven terrain and steep grades and passes. These trips are more physically and mentally challenging and usually 7-8 days in duration. For backpacking trips, pack weight will consist of (30-40lbs). Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment is high. Trips in this category spend significant time at higher elevations and often cover 8-12+ miles per day with average gains/losses of 1,500-3,000’ per day. The most successful people on these trips have some prior overnight backcountry experience.

These trips include on- and off-trail hiking or backpacking on uneven terrain with steep grades. These trips travel 10-12+ miles per day and can vary from 8-21 days in length. Given the mileage and duration, there is an increased amount of physical and mental challenge throughout the trip. Pack weights will consist of 35-45lbs depending on the resupply schedule. Because these types of trips have a required mileage to complete each day, the level of commitment to reach your destination is high. The most successful people on these trips have extensive overnight backcountry experience.

Ales and Trails



This unique departure is sure to please all of your senses, from aromatic craft beers to stunning mountain scenery. And on this inagural trip, participants will be charged with naming the beer specially created for this trip by the master brewer at South Gate Brewery. So lace up your boots, grab your favorite stein, and let's head into the high country! "Hopportunity" is knocking!

The Ansel Adams Wilderness is one of the best-kept secrets of the High Sierra. Located on the southern border of Yosemite National Park, you’ll find mile upon mile of sweeping granite ridges, spectacular vistas, wildflower-strewn meadows and a lifetime of fishing possibilities in hundreds of sparkling high mountain lakes. We'll spend our days exploring this rich mountain environment, via established on- and of-trail routes. There's even the option of a peak ascent of one of the 10,000+ ft peaks making up the southern border of Yosemite!

In the evenings, we’ll enjoy hand-crafted beers from the Southgate Brewery, including our own unique brew created just for this trip. You’ll have a chance to get some tips on brewing from the owner/brewmaster of Southgate during happy hour, as well as an insiders' tour of the Brewery during the trip orientation.


We provide your first night's lodging in a chalet on beautiful Bass Lake. Facilities include lakeside pool and hot tub, as well as tennis courts, market and restaurants (pricing based on shared room occupancy). Three nights tent camping.


We supply all group camping gear (stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.). We can also supply personal camping equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, ground pads, and tents) upon request with no additional fee. You are welcome to bring your own personal camping equipment if you prefer. A detailed gear list will be sent to you upon registration.


We provide meals starting with lunch on day two through breakfast and trail snacks the last day. Our "Backcountry Gourmet" meals have been acclaimed in Sunset Magazine. We take pride in providing excellent meals even in remote surroundings.


Hand Crafted Southgate Brewery beers, meals (as noted above), group camping gear (as noted above), personal camping equipment (as listed above), accommodations (as noted above), applicable permits, pack stock support on Day 2 and Day 5, professional mountain guide(s), pre-trip planning packet, and trip support from our friendly office staff.


Personal clothing and footwear, personal gear not listed under “Equipment” above, meals while in the front country, tips for guides (10-20% of trip cost is customary), transportation, and optional trip cancellation insurance.


Mules will be carrying all of our equipment and your personal gear each day. We won't be hiking with the mules. You will need to pack your personal belongings efficiently into one mid-sized compression sack or duffel as outlined in our pre-trip materials. You are welcome to pack anything extra in your daypack.


Training is paramount to the enjoyment and success of your trip. We recommend exercising in the months prior to your trip to bolster sustained cardiovascular/aerobic activities as well as core and leg strength. Day hikes with a full backpack, preferably on hilly, off road terrain, is the best way to train for our trips. Activities such as cycling and step-master type machines are also excellent and preferable to a routine comprised solely of running.

Day 1:

Check in to the Pines Resort on beautiful Bass Lake anytime after 4pm. Meet your guide and group at 6pm at the Southgate Brewery in Oakhurst CA. We’ll have a short trip orientation including appetizers and your first Southgate beer. We’ll then have a tour of the brewery by the owner/brewmaster. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Day 2:

We meet after breakfast at 7:30 am to drive to the pack station and trailhead. Your guide will accompany you. The drive is approximately an hour and it is your responsibility to drive to the pack station and trailhead. After dropping our gear with the packers, we’ll make our way to the trailhead. While hiking, you'll carry just a daypack with some water, a camera, etc. We’ll hike approximately 6 miles into a centrally located lake where we will make basecamp. After a swim in the lake, we’ll have happy hour where you’ll be the first to enjoy the Southgate beer crafted especially for your trip. Dinner to follow.

Day 3:

Today your guide(s) will lead a hike through the pristine upper lakes basin via established on- and off-trail routes. Exact destinations and distance vary depending on the preferences of the group members. The guides excel at customizing the itinerary to meet the preferences of the group. The day ends with swimming at our lakeside camp, happy hour, and stargazing.

Day 4:

After a hearty breakfast prepared by your guide(s) we’ll set out again to explore the surrounding area. An optional summit hike to one of the nearby 10,000'+ peaks that make up the southern border of Yosemite National Park is a possibility. Also day hikes to other nearby alpine lakes with great fishing, swimming & photo opportunities are possible, depending on your own interests. Happy hour and dinner rounds out an exciting day in the high country.

Day 5:

After a leisurely morning we’ll bid farewell to our cozy camp and make out way back to the trailhead. Expect a 4pm departure from the high country.


*Similar trips include: Ansel Adams High Sierra Camp

Trip Details

5 Days/4 Nights

Group size
3-12 participants with 1-2 mountain guides & brewmaster from South Gate Brewery

Difficulty Rating
Moderate / Basecamp

$1595.00 per person (3-12 registered participants)
price based on shared room occupancy
Single Lodging Supplement: Requested Single $180; Forced Single $90

Trip dates in 2019
July 24-28, 2019
Custom dates & pricing available!

Trip dates for 2020
July 22-26, 2020
Custom dates & pricing available!


Wow--the maiden voyage of Ales & Trails was a huge success! Thank you for all of your hard work to make this such a special trip. We all had so much fun at such a beautiful location and loved the excellent hiking. Everything was impeccably planned, and I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and creativity in accommodating the various eating restrictions (especially when you had a pescatarian and a gluten-free); the food was nothing short of fantastic!

-Karen - Ales & Trails 2016

Dear Colby and Ian,
I want to thank you for organizing the Nichols trip to Ansel Adams wilderness for us. Although Hal and I were very excited for this adventure we were also apprehensive never having done such a trip before. Ryan and Christina the two guides you provided for our group were superb! Their expertise in guiding the group was evident on all levels! They knew the mountain and led us at a pace that we could all be challenged yet safe. As the weather and terrain changed they continued to assess our group abilities and kept us safe yet challenged. The food was prepared at a chefs level and their camaraderie with our group just enhanced our groups dynamics and enjoyment. They were thoroughly professional the entire time enabling us to enjoy the wilderness and physical exhilaration while being guided in competent hands. It was a lifetime experience that totally surpassed our expectations and we will be forever great up to Ryan and Christina and the rest of SYMG!

-Kathy Kamine, Ansel Adams High Sierra Camp, Sept 2013