Dusy / Ershim Trail

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Dusy/Ersim Trail
Photo: BigMike
Trail Information
Other Names:
Part of: Sierra National Forest
Trail Length: 33 Miles
Trail Time: 2 to 3 days or more
Terrain: Mountainous Rock
Off-Road Use: Limited Access/Seasonal
Difficulty: Difficult.gifDifficult.gif
County: Fresno, CA
Nearest Cities: Shaver Lake, CA
Map Links: Google Map
Satellite Map: Google Satellite
Special Map: Google Earth Hybrid
GPS Start: 37° 4'57.14"N, 118°57'46.76"W
GPS End: 37°17'28.95"N, 119° 6'7.94"W
Google Earth:
Climate: 7 Day Forecast
Elevation: 10,000 ft


This is one of the toughest expedition trails in the United States. This statement is made NOT based on the difficulty of any one obstacle, but because you are not likely to traverse this 33 miles of trail in any less than three days! It can be done, but you must be lucky and willing to quickly by-pass some of the most beautiful vistas in the Sierra Nevada mountains! Four or Five days makes this trail far more leisurely and enjoyable. The Forest Service says that you should not attempt this trail with out 32" tires and at least one locker, but I recommend that the best way to enjoy this trail is fully locked with the minimum of a 4" lift and 33" tires.


This information is from The Four Wheel Club of Fresno

Directions to Route:

From Fresno:

  • Take Highway 168 toward Shaver Lake.
  • Turn right on Dinkey Creek Rd. (next to the Shell Station).
  • At Shaver Lake Once you reach Dinkey Creek (about 10 mi) turn right on McKinley Grove Rd.
  • Follow this for another 13 miles and turn left on Courtright Rd.
  • Follow the road 8 miles, turn left to Courtright Reservoir.
  • Cross the dam on the east side of the lake and stay on the road to the Dusy‑Ershim OHV Route sign.

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

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.

Copyright © Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno 2010 All Rights Reserved.

Photo Gallery[edit]

More Images: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Video Gallery[edit]


Maps and GPS Coordinates[edit]

Area Map
Trail Map

Thought I would share some info that I've gathered over the years on our beloved Dusy/Ershim trail. (Thanks BigMike)

Trail Points of Interest (from South-to-North trail direction)

  • Pavement Ends=8,100 37° 4'57.14"N, 118°57'46.76"W
  • Voyager Rock Campground Sign=8,200 37° 6'7.78"N, 118°57'43.67"W
  • Start of trail: 8,200 37° 6'19.37"N, 118°57'39.19"W
  • Chicken Rock (South Gate Keeper): 8,200 37° 6'21.16"N, 118°57'44.52"W
  • Dusy Meadows: 8,200 37° 7'49.45"N, 118°58'00.19"W
  • Thompson Hill: 9,200 37°11'6.08"N, 118°57'9.59"W
  • Thompson Lake: 9,500 37°12'8.47"N, 118°57'29.54"W
  • Lost Lake (optional 20min hike): 9,500 37°12'10.17"N, 118°56'44.38"W
  • Summit Lake: 9,400 37°12'12.83"N, 118°59'25.88"W
  • East Lake: 9,400 37°10'40.68"N, 119° 1'37.24"W
  • Ershim Lake: 9,100 37°12'46.90"N, 119° 3'24.72"W
  • Whale Rock / Divorce Rock:
  • Knights Camp:
  • Mallard Lake (optional 5 min hike): 9,400 37°15'19.88"N, 119° 2'37.53"W
  • Lake Camp: 9,300 37°15'24.35"N, 119° 3'10.33"W
  • Parking Lot in the Sky: 10,000 37°16'56.30"N, 119° 4'46.39"W
  • White Bark: 9,800 37°17'15.82"N, 119° 5'5.18"W
  • Kaiser Pass (Pavement begins): 9,200 37°17'28.95"N, 119° 6'7.94"W

Here is my last trip into Thompson Lake and back out, via my Garmin Edge 500:

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