Good trail but they keep moving the trail head back due to construction. This is a good trail but getting longer every time I hike it. The new construction looks like it is coming along but still sucks hiking past all this construction equipment with the heat and diesel smell. The trail head is bumped back to echo TH now. The upper portion is awesome with several overlooks and sweeping views of the valley. The meadows provides a grate place to camp out and the wind break at the Griffith intersection is awesome when getting up there late. I do like this trail but I would do Trail Canyon to NLT if going to the top.
4 of us (females only) packed in a Botanist's equipment on horseback to 11,427' so just shy of 400' below the peak. The trail was in good condition other than the 2nd switchback above the rock waterfall where a large tree is down across the trail. A hiker can scramble over the tree or go just below it but because of the slope on the downhill side we had to go above it with the horses, wasn't fun. The rest of the trail was fantastic which isn't the reports that Forest Service had gotten. They'd been told that there was water damage from recent rains which we didn't find to be the case on the trail tread.
The views are breathtaking and I see why this is such a heavily used trail by the numerous hikers we passed on the way in and out. Word of caution, make sure to take a map to get you from the parking lot to the south loop, we came from the Trails Canyon parking lot where horse trailers can park and because of the construction going on at the lower day use area it can get a little confusing to turn on the right trail. It's lacking in some signage at this point but we were told it's being worked on.
Hiked the South Loop on October 6, 2012 and it was perfect weather. It was 50 degrees when I started at 7:00 am and stayed that way on my trip to the peak then half way down before it warmed up. I didn't see anyone on my way up but passed a lot of folks (about 20) on my way down.
There is still construction at the trail head so I started at the Cathedral Rock Lower Trailhead which added just under a mile. From the parking area for the Cathedral Rock area, go up the steps and turn left then when you hit the well groomed rock path turn left again and your on the trail. I got to the peak in 4 hours and it took me 3.5 hours to get back down.....plan for a long day.
There are plenty of camping spots after the switchbacks (about the 5th mile). You can find trees and terrain to shelter your tent from the wind should it whip up.
The trail is well defined and I didn't need to reference my map once. I had a GPS but I only used it to track my distance and elevation.
Don't get discouraged by the switch backs at the start, once your out of them its well worth it. The last 3/4 of a mile was a bit of a challenge for me as I wasn't accustomed to the 11,500' elevation but it wasn't impossible. The view form the peak is awesome.
Mummy is next...get to the peak and you'll see why I say that.
For an east coast hiker, this was quite a challenge. We hiked the trail in October of 2011 and the colors were vivid and alive. We came out from Las Vegas at 2,300 some elevation to the South Trail head at 7,500 feet. We started around 8:30 am after an hours drive. The trail was under repair, so we had to make a few detours, then it was up, up, up. The hiking was slow and steady with frequent stops for photos. About half way up my hands began to fell the altitude and became swollen. Making it to the Alphine Meadow was the first milestone. The meadow allows you to get adjusted to the thin air and provides a break from the incline. One hiking partner diverted to Griffith Peak and 3 of us continued toward the summit. I had two buddies ahead of me saw about 5 other people on the trail. Once I got above the tree line and had a second wind and thought I'd make it, however my head began to ache and I felt like the altitude was getting to me. I turned around shortly before the B54 crash site and my two friends made it to the summit. We met up again about half way down and took a photo shoot. My headache continued to get worse and I had plenty of water in my system. I was certainly glad to make it as far as I did and I will definately go back to attempt the peak once again. The experience was incredible despite my altitude illness.
This was a long and demanding hike. There were great views, I was a little dissapointed however because some clouds blew in and picked up a lot of dust that blocked the view of the Strip from the summit. However is was a great overall hike and pretty cool to see snow up there in July. I'll definitely do it again but maybe just take two days for the fun of it and so i'm not so sore from hiking 18 miles in day.