Waterfalls of Big Sur

Updated June 29, 2015 to include Cinnamon Falls
Updated June 18, 2015 to include Hanging Garden Falls and Ventana Mesa Falls

While most of the content on this blog is based on photography and experiences from specific trips, I occasionally like to produce special posts that gather my thoughts from numerous experiences into a cohesive list. This special post includes a description and photos from a couple dozen waterfalls I have visited in the Big Sur region, from cataracts deep in the most remote and wild corners of the Ventana Wilderness to the easily accessible falls near the highway. The Big Sur region has incredible topographical relief from the summits of the Santa Lucia Mountains down to the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean so it should come as no surprise that the rugged canyons draining the peaks hold many amazing waterfalls. This list includes a photo of each falls I have visited along with a short description. Where I have made a video of a falls I have also included the video footage as I have come to discover that video is a particular great medium to capture the movement of water. While this is a fairly comprehensive catalog of the waterfalls in the Big Sur region, including the Silver Peak and Ventana Wilderness, there are several falls I have yet to visit. I plan to update this post as I visit these falls, although it may take some time as several of them require substantial rainfall for optimal viewing which may not happen until next winter.

  • Last Chance Falls (120 ft): When in flow, Last Chance Falls is arguably the most dramatic waterfall in the Ventana Wilderness. The falls flow over an overhanging precipice in an impressive free fall with a large cavern behind the falls. A natural amphitheater of cliffs surrounds the falls and the setting surrounding the falls is fit for a scene out of Jurassic Park. The ephemeral nature of Last Chance Falls makes it particularly special and requires planning, or more accurately, waiting for the ideal conditions which occur during a small window after heavy rains.   
  • Canogas Falls (80 ft total):  Located deep in Devils Canyon on the South Fork Devils Canyon Creek which drains the remote north side of Cone Peak, Canogas Falls is one of the most stunning waterfalls in Big Sur. The falls includes multiple steps with spectacular turquoise pools in between each step. The falls is nestled between rugged cliffs with a lush redwood forest at the base of the falls making it a magical setting.  
  • Devils Falls (80-90 ft est): I identified Devils Falls by satellite and topography with essentially no information about the drainage prior to my visit. Much to my excitement, Devis Falls turned out to be one of the great gems of the Ventana. The falls is located along the pristine Middle Fork Devils Canyon Creek, one of the most rugged and remote drainages in the wilderness where few humans have set foot. The falls contains two primary steps with spectacular turquoise pools in between. The upper segment is a few feet taller than the lower segment. Just above the main waterfall steps is a lead-in falls of about 20 ft with another turquoise pool (not included in the height). Perhaps most amazing about Devils Falls is its spectacular setting tucked into an incredibly rugged cirque of vertical cliffs culminating in a spire I dubbed “Devils Spire”. Similar to Canogas Falls on the South Fork Devils Canyon, Devils Falls has thick accumulation of mineral deposits on the rock surfaces in the pools and over the falls.    
  • Hellhole Falls (40 ft est): Hellhole Falls tumbles from a V-shaped notch into a chasm and ultimately into a large turquoise pool.  Together with Canogas Falls and a half dozen other smaller falls within a relatively short distance, this is arguably the most rugged and impressive stretch of canyon in all of Big Sur. The lead up to Hellhole Falls is just as striking as the falls itself with a number of cascades and waterfalls over smooth bedrock. Behind the falls is a distinguished spire-like Santa Lucia Fir epitomizing the Ventana. I dubbed the falls “Hellhole” since it fits with the naming of the canyon and also because of the impasse that this falls presents to the adventurer to continuing upstream. However, the falls is not a true impasse since a very steep and loose gully downstream of the falls can be used to gain the cliffs where a bushwhacking traverse leads back to the creek upstream of the falls. Video of Hellhole Falls is in the last minute of the Devils Falls video above.  
  • Sugar Falls (40 ft): The highest falls on the South Fork Devils Canyon near the headwaters of the creek below Cone Peak, Sugar Falls was a splendid discovery. The falls has an extremely lush setting of hanging green vegetation and a deep turquoise pool that is magical. As with other waterfalls in Devils Canyon, there is heavy mineral accumulation on everything submerged in water and especially on the face of the waterfall. This thick mineral accumulation provides the basis for vegetation to grow next to the falls, channels the watercourse and creates the spectacular turquoise color in the plunge pool. We named the falls “Sugar Falls” since this is the only falls I know of in the Big Sur/Ventana region near a grove of Sugar Pines and the water appears like falling sugar as it passes through the mineral-encrusted channel. 
  • Devils Pool (35 ft): The most remarkable aspect of this falls is not the falls itself (which is very pretty too), but the expansive and deep plunge pool, which is likely the greatest of its kind in Big Sur, hence I named the feature “Devils Pool.”  Similar to the other plunge pools in Devils Canyon, the pool takes on a bright turquoise with sunlight and changes to emerald in the shade. This is also due to thick calcification of minerals on all surfaces in which the water passes. This process is unlike anywhere else I have seen in Big Sur. Due to the large size and depth of Devils Pool, the colors are enhanced making the setting especially magical.  The waterfall drop into the pool is around 35 ft but has twice as much flow as any of the falls in Devils Canyon since it’s downstream of the middle and south fork confluence.
  • Pick Creek Falls (80 ft): A picturesque falls which shoots over a ledge with an 80 ft free-fall into a large, clear pool surrounded by a lovely grove of old growth Santa Lucia Firs (Abies bracteata aka Bristlecone Fir), with their unmistakable slender, spire-like stature. The Santa Lucia Fir is endemic to the northern part of the Santa Lucia Mountains and the rarest fir in the world. An impressive rock amphitheater surrounds Pick Creek Falls with hanging ferns making a magical setting. Also in the vicinity are the beautiful bathtubs at Bathtub Creek. Creek walking downstream of Pick Creek Falls features more spectacular gorges and cascades all the way to the confluence with the South Fork Big Sur River with more Santa Lucia Firs lining the stream.                      
  • Ventana Falls (50 ft est.): One of the most remote falls in all of the Ventana and Big Sur, this stunning falls is not easy to reach as it entails a 5 mile creek walk along beautiful Ventana Creek from Ventana Camp. The rock facade surrounding the falls is especially striking with white and reddish rock. The creek walk to reach the falls entails numerous log jams, gorges, clear blue pools, and cascades. Ventana Falls guards access to the terrain upstream which is arguably the most rugged, wild and awe-inspiring in any coastal area of the contiguous United States. Bypassing the falls is not trivial and entails a scramble on loose rock.     
  • Hanging Garden Falls (70-80 ft est.): Located near the headwaters of Ventana Mesa Creek this falls is not high flow, but instead achieves its beauty through its delicate nature. There are two segments, with a shorter segment around 15 ft and the balance the much taller upper segment for 70-80 ft in the aggregate. The falls does not really contain a plunge pool, but the lush setting is unmatched by any of the Ventana waterfalls I have seen. Thick moss cloaks the entire rock facade, both underneath the watercourse and on the surrounding cliffs. Other vibrant green vegetation, including a large colony of five finger ferns, hangs from the cliffs besides the falls. Hanging Garden Falls seems like a very fitting name for this magical cataract with its hanging garden of ferns and moss.
  • Ventana Mesa Falls (50 ft est.): Countless picturesque cascades and pools in the lower part of Ventana Mesa Creek above the Entrance Falls culminate in a stunning waterfalls that contains a large pool with a circular amphitheater and tall cliffs. The water tumbles at least 50 ft, all in free-fall. This falls is more impressive than the Entrance Falls, both in height and setting. Video footage of Ventana Mesa Creek below, including Ventana Mesa Falls.  
  • Ventana Mesa “Entrance Falls” (25 ft est.): Right at the confluence of Ventana Mesa Creek and the Carmel River within the  Carmel River gorge, the Entrance Falls to Ventana Mesa Creek is part of the magic of the Carmel River gorge described above. The falls shoots over sloping slick rock with ferns and moss in a very pretty setting. Above the Entrance Falls are a pair of beautiful pools, one turquoise and the other emerald. 
  • Carmel River Falls and Gorge (40 ft est.): Deep in the Carmel River canyon is a remarkable gorge that is one of the highlights of the Carmel River and in my opinion, the entire Ventana. The gorge contains towering cliffs, a deep pool, a beautiful slick rock cascade and a major waterfall along the main stem of the Carmel River. This extremely rugged section of the river is remarkably hidden despite the Carmel River Trail and Round Rock Camp Trail passing nearby.
  • Pine Falls (40 ft est.): Pine Falls is located near the headwaters of the Carmel River about three quarters of a mile downstream from lovely Pine Valley. As such, flow over the falls is rarely large, but the falls is particularly aesthetic with a section of free fall and a large clear pool. The setting is lush with moss clinging to the rocks and a very pretty forest of old growth Santa Lucia firs fills the canyon. 
  • Lower Pine Falls (est. 100 ft aggregate): Located less than a quarter of a mile downstream of Pine Falls, it appears few people know about Lower Pine Falls but it’s an impressive sight and very different in character from Pine Falls making it worthy of a visit. There is no large pool at Lower Pine Falls. Instead, the falls is a series of large cascades over smooth bedrock scrubbed clean of moss. This smooth bedrock is rather hazardous for climbing, but a hand line has been placed in the most precarious spot to assist. It’s a rather chaotic scene as the falls tumbles down the numerous steps strewn with large boulders and sculptured bedrock. The highest segment of the falls is the most impressive and concentrated while lower down the water course splits. This would be an amazing falls to see in higher flow.  
  • Cinnamon Falls (150 ft est.): A multi-step falls that is one of the tallest on a main stem creek in the entire Big Sur region. The falls includes two main segments and a couple smaller sections totaling over 150 ft (a conservative estimate based on my watch altimeter). The rocks surrounding the falls are reddish brown, hence I called the falls Cinnamon Falls. Perhaps the best view of Cinnamon Falls is along the spine of a rocky sub-ridge where you can get a good overview of the falls and see most of it at once. This overview spot is located just below the bottom of a grassy ridge, which can be accessed from the Buckeye Trail. From the base of the falls it is impossible to see the entire cataract and reaching it is more difficult as one must descent the very steep and sometimes loose sub-ridge. Cinnamon Falls would be tremendous in high flow after winter rains. 
  • Salmon Creek Falls (100 ft est.): By all metrics Salmon Creek Falls is impressive: it has great volume with its location near Salmon Creek’s outlet into the ocean, its a strikingly tall falls, and the setting is stunning with a large pool, boulders and cliffs. The only detraction from an otherwise beautiful falls is its close proximity to the highway and the resultant overuse of the area and careless visitors leaving trash.  
  • Upper Salmon Creek Falls (25 ft): While only about a quarter of the height of the main Salmon Creek Falls with significantly less volume, Upper Salmon Creek falls possess a pristine and unfettered beauty that is lost at the main falls. Unlike the main falls, Upper Salmon Creek Falls is not easily accessible and it appears few venture to the shores of its large circular pool. Upper Salmon Creek Falls is a gem. Video footage above. 
  • Circular Pool #1 (15 ft est.):  The first circular pool along the Little Sur River is the largest pool of three and features the tallest falls and also the most vertical cliff amphitheater surrounding the pool. A large section of the cliff above the first pool collapsed over the winter depositing a large pile of rock debris into about 30% of the pool so for the time being the first circular pool is not very circular. Video footage of all three pools is below Circular Pool #3. 
  • Circular Pool #2 (5-10 ft steps): The second circular pool is significantly smaller than the first, both in size of the pool and height of its falls.  However, immediately above this pool lies a series of small cascades and mini-pools over slick rock that are stunning, particularly in periods of moderate flow.  In fact, this section is one of the highlights of the entire Little Sur River. Video footage of all three Circular Pools is below Circular Pool #3. 
  • Circular Pool #3 (12 ft est): The third circular pool is the culmination of a magnificent narrow gorge where the cliffs on both sides come right down into the river resulting a deep pool beneath the falls.   
  • Rainbow Falls (55 ft): Located about a half mile south of Rainbow Camp along the South Fork Trail, Rainbow Falls is along a small tributary of the South Fork Little Sur River. Visibility is limited from the South Fork Trail but a better view can be found just off the trail. The falls never has much volume so it is best viewed after winter rains. What makes Rainbow Falls so special is its extremely lush amphitheater of ferns and moss and the delicate nature of the falls as it plunges over a nearly vertical cliff. See video footage of Rainbow Falls in the Pick Creek Falls video above. 
  • Mocho Falls (total 40 ft est.): Mocho Falls has two distinct steps, but what is most fascinating about this rarely seen falls is a twisty chasm of elegantly sculpted and polished rock separating the two steps. The depth of the chasm and its twisty nature is such that it is virtually impossible to see both steps of the falls at the same time. The lower step is an estimated 20 ft and drops into a spectacular circular amphitheater with a deep and large pool. The upper step is around 10 ft est. and within the narrow rock chute there are additional small steps.  
  • McWay Falls (75 ft): McWay Falls is an iconic spot and probably the most photographed natural feature in Big Sur. This is a must stop for tourists driving Highway 1 and there is often a line of cars parked along the road. Sometimes the area feels like the international terminal at SFO. The falls overlook is accessed by a paved path that is under a quarter mile. The many visitors to McWay Falls range from selfie enthusiasts to professional photographers. Thank goodness access to McWay Falls beach is forbidden and even for the non-law abiding crowd it’s not an easy proposition to get down to the beach (people have been rescued trying). Thus, even if the overlook is a zoo, you can forget about the crowds when you look out onto the picturesque scene of the falls tumbling into the pristine turquoise waters and an untrammeled beach.    
  • Limekiln Falls (90 ft): Limekiln Falls is located near the bottom of the Middle Fork Limekiln Creek which drains the region between Twin Peak and Cone Peak. It seems like everything in this region is grand and Limekiln Falls is no different. Unless flow is particularly high, the falls is split into two prongs. The cataract is easily accessed from the main area of Limekiln State Park and includes passage through a lush redwood forest complete with a dense carpet of sorrel.   
  • Mutt & Jeff Falls (Jeff 35 ft; Mutt 110 ft): Named by Dr. Jack Glendening after a comic strip named Mutt and Jeff created in 1907 lasting through 1983 with a tall and thin Mutt character and his short friend Jeff. In this case, the short Jeff Falls is the real attraction as it’s along the main stem of Santa Lucia Creek. After recent heavy rain Jeff Falls roars over a 35 cliff into a large, deep pool. Tall and thin Mutt Falls is located next to Jeff Falls on a small tributary with a series of steps totaling over 100 ft but never has high volume and is likely a trickle for a large potion of the year. The two falls can be viewed in tandem. See video footage of Jeff Falls in the Last Chance Falls video above. 
  • Pico Blanco Camp Falls (15 ft est.): Pico Blanco Camp Falls is a lovely spot along the South Fork Little Sur River set amid old growth redwoods with a carpet of redwood sorrel. The falls is not large, but includes a blue pool beneath it and a lush surrounding of moss and ferns.  Downstream of the falls is a spectacular narrows along the South Fork Little Sur River. 
  • Pothole Slide Falls (35 ft): Located next to the Lost Valley Trail as it descends into Lost Valley, Pothole slide falls is a series of two slides down a smooth rock face with a pool in between, the “pothole.” The falls is more horizontal than vertical and the drainage upstream is small so this falls is best viewed after recent rain. 
  • Upper McWay Falls (couple steps totaling 30 ft): Above McWay Falls is a beautiful redwood forest and a couple small waterfalls. Upper McWay Falls is one of these falls and includes a couple steps totaling around 30 ft. The lushness of the surrounding redwood forest and cliffs in the canyon makes this a nice falls. It is also located on the main stem of McWay Canyon Creek so flow is decent.   
  • McWay Canyon Falls (20 ft est.): The other falls above McWay Falls is McWay Canyon Falls which is located on a tributary of McWay Canyon Creek with commensurately less volume.  However, the falls is in a pretty setting with five finger ferns and the sprawling root system of a large redwood right next to it.    
  • Firehose Falls (15 ft est.): Located on Jackson Creek near its confluence with the Little Sur River, Firehose Falls spits off a ledge like a fire hose into a pretty pool surrounded by ferns and moss. See video footage of Firehose Falls in the Little Sur Circular Pools video above.  
  • Mocho Creek Falls (18 ft): Located just upstream of Mocho Creek’s confluence with the South Fork Little Sur River, Mocho Creek Falls is a pretty falls in a cliffy nook with a garden of hanging ferns beside it. 
  • Launtz Falls (100+ ft over multiple steps): Launtz Falls is at the base of  a small tributary descending from Launtz Ridge that flows into the Little Sur River. The bottom of the falls is visible from the usepath to Fox Usecamp and you can get a sense there is much more above, but it is not clearly visible unless you cross the Little Sur River and ascend the ultra steep slopes on the other side. Upon climbing the slopes a tall falls presents itself flowing over a lush cliff face.  See video footage of Firehose Falls in the Little Sur Circular Pools video above.   

Other Falls: Eagle Creek Falls, Cienega Falls, Jewel Falls, Vicente Falls, Pfieffer Falls

2014 Adventure Recap

From Big Sur to the High Sierra, 2014 was another tremendous year of adventures. As I did in 2013 and past years (links to past year’s recaps located on right sidebar of homepage), this post lists all of the adventures for 2014 in chronological order with a link to the blog post, where available, or photo album. My most notable adventure the year was completing the John Muir Trail in a new FKT, and in the process holding the FKTs for three of the most famous and iconic trails in the High Sierra at the same time: the High Sierra Trail, the John Muir Trail and the Rae Lakes Loop.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to make these improvements in the FKT/adventure sport in the High Sierra. I also achieved FKTs in the California coastal ranges including Big Sur and the Lost Coast. I have no doubt these times will be lowered in the future. However, much more than any time or split, what stands out the most as I look back on 2014 and my entire portfolio of adventures is the volume of experiences I’ve had exploring wild and rugged places in the mountains. The greatest award or achievement I can find in this sport is not a place or a ranking, but the joy of exploration and discovery of the splendors of nature. Being in the wilderness is a visceral and spiritual experience that is far form the pageantry and commercialization of organized sports. From sea to summit, I hope 2015 finds me on many more adventures!

  1. Cabezo-Molera Loop (January 4, 2014)
  2. Buckeye Loop (January 5, 2014)
  3. Mount Mars (January 5, 2014) 
  4. Big Sur Trail (January 11, 2014) 
  5. La Ventana Loop (January 15, 2014)
  6. Santa Lucia Three Peaks (January 25, 2014) 
  7. Circular Pools (January 26, 2014) 
  8. Shouey-Plaskett Loop (February 1, 2014)
  9. Stone Ridge Direct (February 1, 2014)
  10. Shouey-Plaskett Loop (February 15, 2014)
  11. Kirk Creek Ridge (February 15, 2014)
  12. Pico Blanco-Little Sur Loop (February 16, 2014)
  13. Cabezo-Molera Loop (February 23, 2014) 
  14. South Coast Adventure (February 24, 2014)
  15. Berry Creek Falls via Waddell Beach (March 1, 2014) 
  16. Cone Peak’s North Ridge & Lost Valley (March 8, 2014)
  17. Partington to McWay, Julia Pfieffer Burns (March 15, 2014)
  18. Silver Peak Wilderness Loop, Lion Peak and Mt. Mars (March 16, 2014)
  19. King Range 50, King Range Wilderness (March 23, 2014)
  20. Boronda Ridge & Marble Peak (April 5, 2014)
  21. Prewitt Ridge & South Coast Ridge (April 6, 2014)
  22. Kandlbinder & Ventana Double Cone via the Drain (April 13, 2014)
  23. Stone Ridge Direct Loop & Cone Peak (April 19, 2014)
  24. East Molera Ridge & Post Summit (April 20, 2014) 
  25. Cone Peak via Vicente Flat FKT & Stone Ridge Descent (April 26, 2014) 
  26. Big Sur Station to Bottcher’s Gap via Ventana Double Cone (May 4, 2014)
  27. Big Creek Reserve (May 10, 2014)
  28. Prewitt & Boronda Wildflowers (May 11, 2014)
  29. Humboldt Redwoods – Bull Creek, Rockefeller, Founders (May 23 & 26, 2014)
  30. Jedediah Smith Redwoods (May 24, 2014) 
  31. Damnation Creek – Del Norte Coast Redwoods (May 24, 2014) 
  32. Prairie Creek Redwoods (May 24 & 25, 2014): Fern Canyon; Rhododendron 
  33. Patrick’s Point and Trinidad (May 25, 2014) 
  34. Goat Mountain (May 31, 2014)
  35. Mt. Bago and Mt. Rixford via Road’s End (June 1, 2014)
  36. Granite Balconies (June 8, 2014)
  37. Complete Lost Coast (June 15, 2014) 
  38. Roof of Yosemite Loop (June 23, 2014)
  39. Virginia Peak via Viginia Lakes (June 28, 2014)
  40. Arrow Peak Northeast Ridge via Taboose Pass (June 29, 2014)
  41. Conness Lakes (July 4, 2014) 
  42. Observation Peak and Palisades Sierra High Route (July 5, 2014)
  43. Whorl Mountain & Sawtooth Loop (July 12, 2014)
  44. Mount Davis (July 13, 2014)
  45. Redwood Creek & Sykes Hot Springs (July 27, 2014)
  46. Tower Peak (August 2, 2014)
  47. John Muir Trail FKT (August 15-18, 2014)
  48. Pyramid Peak & Window Peak Lake (August 31, 2014)
  49. Electra Loop – Electra Peak and Lyell Fork Merced River (September 7, 2014)
  50. Black Giant, Charybdis & Mini Evolution Loop (September 13, 2014)
  51. Santa Lucia Wilderness (September 20, 2014)
  52. Montaña de Oro State Park Loop (September 21, 2014) 
  53. Andrew Molera (September 28, 2014)
  54. Ericsson & Genevra (October 4, 2014)
  55. Crique Crest Loop: Windy Point & Marion Peak (October 12, 2014)
  56. Red Mountain Basin Loop: Mount Henry and Red Mountain (October 26, 2014)
  57. Stone Ridge and Cone Peak Loop (November 2, 2014) 
  58. Diving Board (November 8, 2014)
  59. Wildcat Point, Cold Mountain & Tuolumne Domes (November 9, 2014)
  60. Pine Mountain Ridge, Reyes Peak and Haddock Mountain (November 15, 2014) 
  61. Cathedral-Tunnel Loop (November 16, 2014) 
  62. Dutra-County Line Loop (November 22, 2014)
  63. Pt. 2866 (Soda Peak) (November 22, 2014) [coming soon]
  64. Boronda Turkey Trot (November 27, 2014) [coming soon]
  65. Pico Blanco North Ridge (November 28, 2014) [coming soon]
  66. Marble Peak 50k+ (December 6, 2014) [coming soon]
  67. Big Sur Condor Loop – Anderson Peak Direct (December 13, 2014) [coming soon]
  68. Berry Creek Falls Loop via Waddell Beach (December 20, 2014) [coming soon]
  69. Soberanes Loop (December 21, 2014) [coming soon]
  70. Summit Rock-Castle Rock Loop (December 25, 2014) [coming soon]
  71. Big Sur Paradise (December 26, 2014) [coming soon]
  72. Alta Vista and Ewoldsen Loop (December 27, 2014) [coming soon]
  73. Coast Ridge including Twin, Cone, Mining Ridge, Marble and Timber Top (December 28, 2014) [coming soon]

2012 Adventure Run Recap

2012 was a fantastic year of adventure running with a diverse set of outings, each with amazing scenery. The following is a recap of the year’s adventures with some of my favorite photographs.

Clouds Rest via Yosemite Valley (May 20, 2012): Clouds Rest is a colossal granite formation with striking prominence. At 9,926 ft, it is not nearly the tallest mountain in Yosemite, but it’s close proximity and unobstructed perch above Yosemite Valley provides spectacular views and a unique vantage of both the high country and the valley. In a 360 degree panorama, one can gaze over to Half Dome, the Clark Range, Tuolumne Meadows. The most impressive feature of Clouds Rest is its northwest face, an immense granite slab polished by glaciers and descending 5,000 ft below to the base of Tenaya Canyon. I have hiked up Clouds Rest previously via Tioga Rd, but this was my first time via Yosemite Valley and it’s a great route and worth the extra efforts. Photos here and here.

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne (May 28, 2012): The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a rugged, wild and remote corner of Yosemite National Park. I completed this point-to-point adventure in 2010 and couldn’t wait to return this year. In 2010, we did the trip in July, but due to the unusually dry winter season resulting in meager snowpack, the trail was snow-free and we found similar water volume this year in late May as we did in mid-July 2010. Due to the fact that White Wolf campground and lodge were not opened yet, we decided to leave the car at Lukens Lake which added a few extra miles to the trip, bonus over the standard 50k distance (~33 miles total). Complete photo album here.

Emigrant Wilderness 30 Mile Loop (June 3, 2012): The Emigrant Wilderness is located north of Yosemite National Park and accessed via the Sonora Pass Highway. There are several trailheads that access this vast wilderness of glacier polished granite, lakes and meadows. For my first exploration into this region I decided to do a 30 mile loop out of the Crabtree Trailhead above Dodge Ridge/Pinecrest to visit a series of lakes. It’s nice that this trailhead is under three hours from the Bay Area, probably the closest area of the Sierra mountains from the Bay. Each of the lakes on the route deeper into the wilderness became progressively more scenic starting with Camp Lake, Piute Lake, Gem Lake, Jewelry Lake and the highlight of the loop was Upper and Lower Buck Lakes, which featured a great backdrop of granite walls. I also enjoyed Wood Lake as I began my return via Pine Valley. Photos here.

Forsyth Peak & Sister Lakes (June 9, 2012): The Sister Lakes region describes a chain of lakes that straddle the northern border of Yosemite National Park and Hoover Wilderness. The name “Sister” aptly describes the names of these lakes, which include Stella, Harriett, Helen, Ruth, Bonnie, Cora and Dorothy. Forsyth Peak serves as a rugged backdrop for all of these lakes with its permanent snowfields and impressive north face. Dorothy Lake Pass (on the Sierra crest) marks the actual boundary line between Yosemite and Hoover and Dorothy Lake is the only lake that actually lies in the national park (south of the pass) and flows into the Hetch Hetchy drainage and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. The other lakes (north of the pass) drain into the Walker River and the Great Basin. Photos here.

Granite Dome & its lakes (June 10, 2012): Aptly named Granite Dome is an immense granite massif with numerous basins occupied by stunning alpine lakes. All of the lakes are located on the northern side of the massive ridge that culminates in the summit while the south side features much less rock and more meadows. The region is accessed via Kennedy Meadows and features a moderately steep trail to reach Relief Reservoir and beyond, and then off-trail travel along granite slabs to reach a series of lakes including Lewis Lakes (lower, middle, upper), Sardella Lake, Ridge Lake and Iceland Lake. In my opinion Ridge Lake is the centerpiece nestled beneath the towering cliffs of the Granite dome summit. Photos here.

Big Bird & Deadman Canyon (June 17, 2012): The Great Western Divide region of the Southern High Sierra is one of my favorite spots in the entire range. On this day I scoped out a spectacular figure-8 loop out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park that is mostly off-trail and stays high above the tree line nearly the entire way. The eastern loop of the figure-8 is the more challenging portion with big elevation changes and slab scrambling while the western loop is easy, open cross-country terrain. There was amazing clarity for mid-June with the Central Valley clearly visible over 10,000 feet below.Total time for the ~40 mile route was 13:36 roundtrip. Photos here.

Hyatt Lake Loop (June 24, 2012): Another adventure run into the Emigrant Wilderness, this time a spectacular off-trail loop departing the Pine Valley trail at Louse Canyon and including Hyatt Lake, Big Lake and Pingree Lake (complete photo album here). The stretch between Big Lake and Hyatt Lake was my favorite section with a continuous slab of granite arcing across the entire basin, a stretch that I called the “Granite Highway.”

Lost Coast – King Range (July 7, 2012): The Lost Coast is a spectacular meeting of land and ocean along the most undeveloped, remote and rugged stretch of coastline along the U.S. West Coast. I was eager to return here after an amazing experience in 2010 (see 2010 TRs: King RangeSinkyone). The northern portion of the Lost Coast is protected by the King Range National Conservation Area and 42,585 acres received Federal Wilderness designation on October 17, 2006. The southern portion is protected in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, named after the Sinkyone Indians that lived on this part of the coast. The two sections are split by Shelter Cove, a small community of mainly vacation homes, but the parts are completely different in terms of the overall feel and experience. The northern 26 mile section in the King Range NCA from the Mattole River to Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove is primarily a beach walk with two-thirds of the distance spent on sand, gravel, and rock-hopping and the remaining third on trails just above the beach on the bluffs. The southern 27 mile section from Hidden Valley to Usal Beach in the Sinkyone is entirely on the bluffs above the ocean with arduous climbs and narrow, brushy trails in the forest – a true adventure run with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. The northern part features sweeping oceanside views at every step while the southern part has inspiring vistas from atop rugged cliffs. Complete album here.

Lost Coast – Sinkyone (July 8, 2012):  Part II of the Lost Coast adventure run is from Chamise Mountain to Usal Beach. Due to the remarkably persistent fog, the coastal vistas that I knew existed from the 2010 trip were not visible. Complete album here.

Desolation Six Summits (July 15, 2012): The Desolation Wilderness is the most rugged region near Lake Tahoe with the star attraction being Lake Aloha set amidst the granite slopes of the Crystal Range. Since it’s relatively accessible to Lake Tahoe, it is the most visited wilderness area in the United States per square foot. While there is no shortage of people on the trails on a busy summer weekend, I still found plenty of solitude in this granite playground. This adventure entailed an aesthetic ridge route climbing the six highest summits in the Desolation Wilderness over 11h42m roundtrip out of the Mount Ralston Trailhead.  Complete photo album of the six summits loop here.

Ritter-Banner Loop (July 29, 2012): Mount Ritter, Banner Peak and the Minarets are collectively the centerpieces of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. With numerous lovely alpine lakes surrounding these mountains and their close proximity to Mammoth Lakes it is no wonder this region is so popular with hikers and backpackers. It had been since 2007 since I last climbed Ritter and Banner and three years since I was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness (I did a climb of Clyde Minaret in 2009) so it was time to return this past July 29th. I aimed to do an aesthetic loop of the region and tour as many of the spectacular alpine lakes as possible (and take a ton of photos), particularly timing Garnet and Thousand Island Lake in the early morning when I figured (correctly) that lighting would be ideal. Many photos here.

Ptarmigan Traverse FKT (August 16, 2012): Uli Steidl and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 12h17m a new FKT. It has been three years since I last enjoyed the Ptarmigan Traverse so it was time to come back to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cascades and refresh the prior FKT. Complete photo album here.

Suiattle Crest 50 Mile (August 20, 2012): I returned to repeat the Suiattle Crest 50 mile adventure run on August 20th. The original run was done on August 4, 2009 in 13h37m. Last week I completed it in 11h44m (1h53m faster). This complete loop, entailing six passes, covers most of the highlights in this region of the Glacier Peak Wilderness including a breathtaking view from Little Giant Pass, a tour through wild Napeequa Valley, 360 vistas from the High Pass area, verdant wildflower meadows, stunning Lyman Lakes, and Spider Gap. It’s quintessential North Cascades scenery – well worth a revisit after three years. Compete photo album here.

Desolation Marathon (August 25, 2012): My second visit to the Desolation Wilderness was in late August for an extremely pleasant loop entirely on trails that hits most of the highlights in the region including great views of Emerald Bay, vistas from Dicks Pass, and gorgeous Lake Aloha. Total mileage according to GPS was just under 26 miles, hence the “Desolation Marathon Loop” name. Complete photo album here.

Cottonwood Lakes (September 1, 2012): An acclimation hike the day before the High Sierra Trail with visit to these lovely lakes beneath Mount Langley.

High Sierra Trail FKT (September 2, 2012): I ran the 72 mile High Sierra Trail from Whitney Portal to Crescent Meadow in 15h46m starting at 3:19 am and finishing at 7:05 pm, a new FKT (previous mark was 18h39m). The High Sierra Trail is a masterpiece of Sequoia National Park traveling from the iconic giant sequoias to the highest point in the lower 48, and passing through some of the most stunning scenery in the Sierra Nevada Mountains en route. It was a great experience in an immensely scenic region of the High Sierra. Complete photo album here.

Parsons Loop (September 8, 2012): I remembered looking at Ireland Lake on the map and thinking it would be a neat spot to visit. I had also viewed the Lewis Creek Basin from Vogelsang Peak and wanted to explore the many alpine lakes I saw in the basin. A high pass separates Ireland Lake from Lewis Creek Basin including some cross country travel and scrambling on the west side of the pass making for a logical loop. We could also ascend to the summit of Parsons Peak about 700 vertical feet above the pass for sweeping views of the Yosemite high country.

Mount Dana (September 22, 2012): An acclimation hike the day before the  Evolution Loop with great views of the Yosemite high country.

Evolution Loop (September 23, 2012): The Evolution Loop is a magnificent route through some of the most inspiring terrain in the High Sierra. Technically the route is not a loop as the start and finish are at different locations (more accurately, it’s a horseshoe) utilizing the North Lake and South Lake trailheads (note: the trail and/or road segment that links these two trailheads would not be fun).  On ran the “loop” in 12h15m from North Lake to South Lake, which set a standard for speed on the route, starting at 5:01 am and finishing at 5:15 pm. The adventure entails ~55-56 miles and 10,000+ ft elevation gain including three high passes – Piute Pass (11,400 ft), Muir Pass (12,000 ft), and Bishop Pass (11,960 ft). About 25 miles of the route are on the John Muir Trail passing by the famous Muir Hut at Muir Pass. The scenery was stunning as expected, and even enhanced by afternoon cumulus clouds that created shade contrast on the granite. I couldn’t resist spending a fair amount of time on photography on both sides of Muir Pass from Evolution Lake to Helen Lake.The loop was later done in 10.5 hrs so I guess I’m leaving the camera at home next time instead of taking 300 photos. Complete photo album here.

Rae Lakes Loop & Mount Cotter via Sixty Lakes Basin (September 30, 2012): It has been a couple years since I visited the marvelous Rae Lakes region so it was time to return. However, having run the loop straight through twice in the past (deep snow in 2009 and FKT of 7:29:50 in 2010) I thought it was time for something new and Sixty Lakes Basin was intriguing place I’ve been wanting to explore. It also made sense to climb Mount Cotter as part of my explorations in Sixty Lakes Basin. After completing a photography extravaganza in the Sixty Lakes Basin, I decided to finish out the loop and descended towards Woods Creek and Paradise Valley. Complete photo album here.

Sabrina Basin (October 20, 2012): I was last in Sabrina Basin in May 2007 for an overnight peakbagging outing with amazing memories of this strikingly beautiful region. My photo session at Sailor Lake on that trip produced one of my all time favorite mountain scenery photos. It was time to return. I had just enough time to squeeze in a morning run to Hungry Packer Lake and make it back in time for a run to Dusy Basin later that afternoon. On this morning there was some breeze that precluded the type of mirror-like reflection in Sailor Lake that I had witnessed in 2007, but further explorations to Hungry Packer Lake’s outlet yielded some nice shots. I climbed up the ridgelines on both sides of Hungry Packer Lake to gain 360 degree views of the Sabrina Basin. The crisp and clear autumn air produced superlative clarity. A dusting of snow on the north and east facing slopes made it magical. Among my favorite scenes from this outing was a patch of pine snags above the Hungry Packer Lake. The contrast of the reddish orange snags with the deep blue lake and granite was mesmerizing. Complete photo album here.

Dusy Basin (October 20, 2012): While I have made the trek from South Lake to Bishop Pass and into Dusy Basin several times, the magnificent views of the Palisades never cease to inspire. Mount Agassiz, Mount Winchell, and North Palisade collectively form a wall of granite that towers above the basin filled with numerous alpine lakes. Aptly named Isosceles Peak is especially striking from the southern part of the basin and perfectly frames the Palisades “wall.” Columbine Peak and Giraud Peak complete the 360 panorama of rock and ruggedness. On this day, the concept was to do a loop through the upper part of the basin, a “tour de Dusy” and hit some of my favorite photography spots in the process. Complete photo album here.

Finger Lake (October 21, 2012): Finger Lake is a Sierra gem beneath the towering walls of Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak. The aptly named lake is flanked by granite cliffs and features a glacial turquoise color emanating glacial remnants above. Complete photo album here.

Kuna & Koip (October 28, 2012): At just over 13,000 feet, Kuna Peak is the third highest point in Yosemite National Park behind Mount Lyell and Mount Dana. The summit provides a spectacular view of the Yosemite high country and Ansel Adams Wilderness including the entire Cathedral Range and Ritter Range. To the south lies Mammoth Mountain and the southern High Sierra while the north features Tuolumne Meadows, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and peaks of Northern Yosemite. The centerpiece of the view is from the rugged peaks of Banner Peak, Mount Ritter and Rodgers Peak to the “Roof of Yosemite” including Mount Lyell and Mount Maclure.  The view is not dissimilar from that achieved on Mount Dana, but Kuna is perched much closer to the Cathedral Range and Ritter Range with a direct and unobstructed view into Lyell Canyon. Complete photo album here.

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness & Three Sisters (November 3, 2012): I made a small tour of this Wilderness Area west of the Sierra crest including Cliff Lake, Rock Lake, Second Dinkey Lake and Island Lake. The trails in this region are moderate and very runnable. I also climbed the highest point in the wilderness, Three Sisters, at 10,619 feet.

Hell for Sure & Red Mountain (November 4, 2012): Fall is a beautiful time in the High Sierra and some of my most memorable experiences have come during this season. This year was no exception with many great outings. On my last adventure run in the High Sierra before the peaks became buried in snow, I explored a region of the range I have yet to see (as hard as that might be to believe) – the LeConte Divide. This often overlooked area west of the Sierra Crest features spectacular scenery and numerous opportunities for off-trail exploration. The LeConte Divide is quite rugged belying its lower elevation compared to it’s neighbors to the east. It’s also one of the more remote sections of the range and therefore solitude can easily be achieved. For my first trip to this region, I started out at Courtright Reservoir (which features numerous domes for quality rock climbing) and headed to Red Mountain Basin where I ascended to Hell for Sure Lake, over 15 miles from the trailhead and much of that mileage in the forest. I’m curious what is the origin and etymology of the name “Hell for Sure” since this region is simply stunning – beautiful for sure! I ascended Red Mountain where I marveled at the 360 degree views including the Sierra Crest, Goddard Canyon, the LeConte Divide, and the Sierra foothills. The best view of all, however, was Red Mountain Basin immediately below, with at least seven shimmering lakes tucked beneath Mount Hutton and Hell for Sure Lake being the large centerpiece. Perhaps the prettiest lake in the basin is Horseshoe Lake, situated among polished granite cliffs, clumps of trees and the north face of Mount Hutton towering directly above.

2012 Adventure Run Ideas – Cascades

The North Cascades of Washington state are a special place. These mountains were the inception of my adventure running in 2006. While I do many more trips in the High Sierra these days, I always look forward to a trip up to WA to visit some of my favorite mountains. The North Cascades have a unique character as glistening white glaciers beneath rugged summit pinnacles juxtapose deep green valleys choked with brush and forest. Here are a few ideas for this year:

  • Isolation Traverse: The traverse from Snowfield Peak to Eldorado Peak is the missing link to two areas that I have visited many times. I’m especially interested in views of the immense McAllister Glacier icefall and an up-close view of Backbone ridge. 
  • Pickets Westside: From Hannegan Pass to Diablo Lake, this route through the Pickets is even more remote and rugged than 2010’s Luna Cirque Traverse and passes underneath the towering walls of the Southern Picket “fence.” The terrain is arduous and challenging so the Westside is only traversed a couple times a year, if at all. Intense summit names like Challenger, Fury, Terror, Crooked Thumb, and Phantom manifest the difficulty of reaching this fabled region and there is virtually no evidence of human impact.
  • Mount Redoubt & Mount Spickard: The Redoubt region is located near the Canadian border and it’s been a long time since I’ve visited this highly scenic corner of the North Cascades. It would be nice to do the Redoubt High Route to Whatcom Pass with stupendous views of the Picket Range. 
  • Luna Peak: The highest point in the Picket Range, Luna Peak also offers the best view with its eastern position offset from the crest of the Northern and Southern Picket Range. The view from the summit at sunrise is pictured below and I would like to return to watch another sunrise from its summit. Plus, it’s been a couple years since I’ve had the honor of battling the Access Creek bushwhack!
  • Mount Logan: I have climbed Mount Logan twice, but the view from the summit of the Eldorado Ice Cap and Boston Glacier is breathtaking. This mountain is one of the more remote summit in the range, but lends itself to running with a long approach on trail.
  • Mount Formidable: A summit along the Ptarmigan Traverse that I climbed in 2005. This summit provides amazing views in all directions and the approach is equally scenic.
  • Wonderland Trail: The 94 mile loop around Mount Rainier has been on my mind for a few years. This outing entails a lot of planning and preparation so I’m not sure it will get done this year, but we’ll see if the opportunity presents itself.
Past adventure run ideas for the Cascades: 

Photo Locations:

  1. Dome Peak from White Rock Lakes, 2008
  2. The Southern Pickets from the summit of Luna Peak, 2005
  3. View from Austera Peak, 2011
  4. Mount Challenger and Whatcom Peak reflect in Tapto Lakes, 2005
  5. Ridge to Mount Fury, 2008
  6. View of the Eldorado Ice Cap from the summit of Forbidden Peak, 2006
  7. Dana Glacier, 2008
  8. View of Boston Glacier from the summit of Mount Logan, 2006
  9. View of the Dakobed Range from near High Pass, 2009
  10. Southern Pickets from the summit of West McMillan Spire, 2011

2012 Adventure Run Ideas – High Sierra

I have been fortunate enough to explore some amazing spots in the High Sierra over the last few years, but the outstanding scenery in the “range of light” keeps me coming back for more. Virtually every trip features a stunning combination of rugged granite peaks, placid alpine lakes and colorful meadows in an authentic wilderness setting. The High Sierras are a special place. Following are some adventure run ideas for next summer:

  • Glacier Ridge and Big Wet Meadow: One of the most remote spots in the entire range. In fact, just to reach Big West Meadows to get a glimpse of the Whaleback and Glacier Ridge requires a 40 mile round trip hike/run with substantial elevation gain and loss in both directions. However, the sheer granite cliffs rising above the picturesque meadows is simply magical. Last year I climbed the Whaleback itself but this time I’d like to ascend Glacier Ridge, the high point across the valley to the West. Glacier Ridge is a striking aiguille rising from an immense granite ridgeline. Panoramic views from the top include the Great Western Divide and Kaweah Range. 
  • Mount Winchell: A member of the Palisades subrange, the most alpine region in the High Sierra. I’ve heard the class three route up the summit is lots of fun and a trip up the North Fork Big Pine drainage is always a pleasure.
  • Ritter & Banner: Last climbed in 2007, it has been awhile since I have visited these two summits that form the centerpiece of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. This time I intend to make a large loop out of Agnew Meadows including Garnet Lake, Thousand Island Lake, Lake Catherine and Lake Ediza.
  • High Sierra Trail – Whitney Portal to Crescent Meadows: This magnificent route stretches 72 miles from Whitney Portal on the eastern side of the Sierras to Crescent Meadows on the western side in Sequoia National Park. The trip includes a big ascent of Mount Whitney right from the start but is largely downhill afterwards (except for the gradual ascent up to Kaweah Gap). This trail features stunning scenery throughout and passes through one of the most magnificent basins in the High Sierra in Hamilton Lakes and the Valhallas. The primary logistical problems don’t involve the trail and are twofold: (1) obtaining a permit to hike in Whitney Trail, even if it will likely be ascended in the middle of the night, and (2) the car shuttle with a substantial amount of driving to get from the start to the finish.
  • Arrow Peak & Bench Lake: The view of Arrow Peak from Bench Lake is one of the classic views in the Sierra. It’s quite a slog to get back there via Taboose Pass as the climb literally starts in the desert of Owens Valley, but it looks like it will be worth it!
  • Observation Peak and Amphitheater Lake: A remote destination with long approach routes by any means. I would likely ascend Taboose Pass and then head up the John Muir Trail towards Mather Pass before splitting off just before the pass and heading cross country over a different pass to the west and through a basin to the objective. Amphitheater Lake looks spectacular!
  • Middle Palisade: A 14er in the rugged Palisades group that I climbed in 2009. It would be nice to return and go for a faster time, but I would not sacrifice enjoying stunning Finger Lake, with its turquoise glacial water and towering granite slabs (pictured below). 
  • Langley: Another great trail run up the southermost fourteener in the Sierras and one of the highest trailheads at over 10,000 feet. A loop around Langley/Cottonwood area has been on the list for awhile but it’s about as far from the Bay Area as you can get.  Hopefully I’ll get to it this season in conjunction with acclimation for a run of the High Sierra Trail.
  • Tower Peak: An impressive peak in Northern Yosemite accessed from below Sonora Pass. This trip looks to be around 35 miles roundtrip.
  • Mount Stanford: The “shyest” major peak in the Sierra, Mount Stanford just barely misses the 14,000 foot level so it is infrequently climbed, but I’ve got to climb the peak named after my alma mater at some point!
  • Northern Yosemite 50: delicious 50 mile loop in northern Yosemite originating at Twin Lakes and entailing five passes, including highlight stops at Peeler Lake, the Benson Lake Riviera, Matterhorn Canyon, and Sawtooth Ridge. I ran this loop last year, but it’s so good that I definitely want to return.
  • Palisades Circumnavigation: A complete tour of the Palisades Group including passage through five  high passes: Scimitar Pass, Potluck Pass, Thunderbolt Pass, and Jigsaw Pass.
Past adventure run ideas for the High Sierra:

Photo Locations: 

  1. Dusy Basin, 2011
  2. Finger Lake below Middle Palisade, 2009
  3. Bear Creek Spire from Long Lake, 2011
  4. Milestone Peak from Milestone Creek, 2011
  5. Banner Peak (center) and Mount Ritter (left) from Thousand Island Lake, 2007
  6. The Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow, 2011
  7. Fin Dome near Arrowhead Lake, 2010
  8. Picture Peak from Sailor Lake, 2007

2011 Adventure Run Recap

2011 was another great year for adventure running with lots of trips to the High Sierra and a couple in the North Cascades of Washington State. It was great to venture into some of the most remote regions in both ranges and see terrain I have never seen. I’m already looking forward to adventures in 2012 but here are some photos and links to full reports from the adventures of this past year. See 2010 recap here.

  1. Cone Peak “Sea to Sky” – January 29th: Second annual trip from the Big Sur Coast up to 5,155 ft Cone Peak with spectacular views and a redwood canyon. I’ve dreamed of doing this run when there is fresh snow atop Cone Peak so we’ll see if I can get lucky with timing this year. 
  2. Winter Alta Peak – January 31st: Amazing views of the Great Western Divide on this snowshoe trip out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park. 
  3. Bear Creek Spire & Mount Dade – July 3rd: My second visit to this lovely basin with picturesque alpine lakes and rugged alpine beauty. 
  4. Mount Sill – July 4th: My second time up 14,159 ft Mount Sill, known as the best viewpoint in the High Sierra. The route features a crossing of the Palisade Glacier, largest body of ice remaining in the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt Peak. 
  5. Mount Lyell & Mount Maclure – July 9th: Improved my time by 65 minutes to 8:50 roundtrip for the climb of these two peaks that are the roof of Yosemite!  
  6. The Whaleback & Big Wet Meadows – July 23rd:  A 50 mile adventure run up Cloud Canyon and Big Wet Meadows to climb Whaleback, one of the most remote spots in the High Sierra. Incredible! 
  7. Primus, Austera & Eldorado – July 30th: Colin Abercrombie and I toured the Eldroado Ice Cap climbing Primus Peak, Austera Peak and Eldorado along the way. We started at 2 am and finished at 5:40 pm for a 15:40 day. It has been since 2005 that we explored the ice cap towards Austera so it was nice to return to this scenically stellar region and explore a new area beyond Austera to the North Klawatti Glacier and Primus Peak.
  8. West McMillan Spire – August 1st: Awesome climb of this impressive summit in the Southern Pickets in a new FKT of 8:14 roundtrip.  
  9. Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop – August 6th: An “instant classic” adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, and including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. I’ll definitely be returning to do this one again! 
  10. Milestone & Midway – September 3rd: An adventure run to climb Milestone Mountain (13,641 ft) and Midway Mountain (13,666 ft) along the Great Western Divide, two of the most remote points in the High Sierra. Milestone Creek and Basin are exceptionally scenic with lovely alpine lakes and tarns, polished granite, and the towering peaks of the Great Western Divide.  
  11. TRT-Flume Trail 27 Mile Loop – September 10th: Great 27+ mile loop in the northeast part of Lake Tahoe with nice trails and awesome views. 
  12. Eagle Scout Peak & Kaweah Gap – September 25th: An adventure run to Eagle Scout Peak via Kaweah Gap in 9:38 roundtrip from Crescent Meadows. Eagle Scout Peak is located just south of Kaweah Gap along the Great Western Divide in a remote region of Sequoia National Park. The climb of the 12,000 ft peak entails over 45 miles roundtrip and 8,000+ ft of elevation gain. While it’s a long way just to Kaweah Gap along the High Sierra Trail (21 miles from Crescent Meadow), the scenery is phenomenal and well worth the effort. The sapphire blue of Hamilton Lakes and the towering granite walls of Angel Wings and the Valhallas are truly magnificent.  
  13. Mount Dana – October 16th: A quick climb up this summit near Tioga Pass for early morning light on freshly snow covered peaks of the Yosemite high country. 
  14. Vogelsang Peak – October 16th: The afternoon part after Mount Dana was a climb of Vogelsang, with great trails and nice views. 
  15. Mount Conness via Young Lakes – October 23rd: Another spectacular fall day in the Sierras with an extremely scenic and pleasant climb of Mount Conness via Young Lakes. The route we took is one of the longer approaches to the mountain, but the views of Tuolumne Meadows and gorgeous Young Lakes along the way more than compensated. I did not have any expectations for Young Lakes but they turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and we spent considerable time at the main lower lake both on the trek in and on the way out. New snow on the surrounding cliffs of the Young Lakes cirque added to the beauty and this is a place I will definitely be returning to explore.
  16. Mount McDuffie & Ladder Lake – October 30th: My favorite adventure run of the year, Ladder Lake along the way to Mount McDuffie is one of the most rugged and wild corners of the High Sierra that I have seen. While the ascent of Mount McDuffie might not be the most aesthetic, the summit provides a magnificent vantage of most of the Palisades, the Ionian Basin, and Le Conte Canyon

Adventure Run Ideas 2011 – Cascades

The North Cascades are the most rugged and wild mountains in the contiguous United States. They are heavily glaciated and often difficult to access. I have been climbing in the North Cascades for many years and the breathtaking scenery never gets old. Here are some adventure run ideas I have for the Cascades this summer:


  • Westside Northern Pickets Traverse: From Hannegan Pass to Diablo Lake, this year’s route through the Pickets is even more remote and rugged than last year’s Luna Cirque Traverse and passes underneath the towering walls of the Southern Picket “fence.” The terrain is arduous and challenging so the Westside is only traversed a couple times a year, if at all. Intense summit names like Challenger, Fury, Terror, Crooked Thumb, and Phantom manifest the difficulty of reaching this fabled region and there is virtually no evidence of human impact.
  • Redoubt and Spickard: I visited this spectacular area near the Canadian border way back in 2004 in a climb of Mount Redoubt via Depot Creek. I’d like to return and climb Mount Spickard at some point since the summit has one of the best views in the entire North Cascades.
  • Isolation Traverse: A high traverse through the seldom visited region between Snowfield Peak and Eldorado Peak with views of the rugged McAllister Glacier cirque.
  • Wonderland Trail: This amazing 94 mile loop around Mount Rainier has been on my radar for a few years and it is definitely something I hope to do someday.