Alta Peak Trail

HARD 56 reviews
#9 of 83 trails in

Alta Peak Trail is a 12.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sequoia National Park, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September.

DISTANCE
12.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4091 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

cross country skiing

forest

views

wild flowers

no dogs

hiking
11 days ago

backpacking
30 days ago

Lovely hike with lots of wildflowers, tons of greenery, and lots of creeks to refill your water. One member of our group saw a few bears. Hike gets hot after Panther Gap because there's not a lot of shade. The path to Alta Peak is mostly cross-country after the split with the trail to Alta Meadow. The last 1/4 mile or so has patches of snow. It was firm in the morning but will probably be slushy in the afternoon. No winter gear required. The register was full so we added another page in. This was a two day backpack for us, but would probably be an easier day hike carrying minimal gear.

hiking
1 month ago

My wife and I hiked it on Wednesday, July 12th. It was a very nice trail with great views and opportunities to see wildlife (we saw two bears and a Sooty Grouse). Snow does cover the last several hundred yards and we took our time picking our way through the snow/rock patches in order to reach the peak, but was little problem with a decent pair of hiking boots and a shared pair of hiking poles. We went at a moderate pace and left Wolverton trail head at 9:30 am and back before 5 pm.

Alta Peak was a tough hike but great training! I picked it to see how I'd handle altitude, and it definitely makes it difficult. I also missed turning left for Alta Peak on the last split and ended up toward Alta Meadow. When I realized it, I actually just cut directly North, rock climbing a couple hundred feet until I intersected. That really took it out of me! Great navigation lessons and exercise though.
I actually think this would be the perfect time to go (mid July) if it weren't for the wildfires burning in the south. The snow is beautiful, the run off makes awesome (and also a bit dangerous in the afternoon) water fall/streams to cross, and the snow covers only a part of the trail where you can climb straight up the rocks anywhere and not get lost.
Honestly though, the smoke from the fires ruined the higher views for me. I thought the best view was actually East over the meadow or facing South before the massive uphill climb. There you're below the smoke line altitude and can enjoy the chill of shade and snow and the details of the valley and snow capped mountains are clear. Otherwise, it was the perfect length, elevation and altitude climb for the beginning of my Mt Whitney training!

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This is a beautiful trail. I started at Wolverton at 6:15 am on 7/12/17. Do start the hike early because you get mostly shade up until the last 2 miles to the peak. The snow level was at 10500 ft, when the trail became completely covered. At that point you need to be creative and find the best way to the top. I had not snow gear and my shoes could only take me to 11000 ft - about a few hundred feet from the top. I got there at 9:00 am (less than 3 hours). The snow is melting fast, so the trail is very wet at times. The conditions will be certainly more favorable in a few weeks. I did past the tree line and the views were amazing. The last Foxtail pines were incredible.

hiking
1 month ago

Completed trail 7/9/17 (yesterday) in 10 hours.

For the first five miles from Wolverton the trail is fairly straightforward asides from a few stream crossings. After the last switchback, it gets complicated. At first you'll see a section of the trail has turned into a river for the snow melt, and eventually disappears during its "upward" turn under the snowfield.

At this point you must get creative and find the safest route to the peak, and depending on which false summits you chase or how curvy your route is (based on sun/temperature/snow conditions), this last .7 mi could double in length with a lot of ice picking, slipping in slush and crawling. I was aiming for the ridgeline so I could get some views and orient myself but veered further west than intended so I probably extended it into one hour doing a full mile.

Top is gorgeous. Stunning views, and can't wait to get back. Didn't get to enjoy it as much as there was a thunderstorm rolling close, and an aggressive marmot that lives there & likes trekking poles :)

Most people are not going to make it without shoe traction and/or trekking poles. It might be possible on a cold day if you start early. I felt bad for many people who made it 6 miles and turned back, because unless you hit that ridgeline for the last .7 miles, there's honestly not much to see on this 12 mile trail that you couldn't from Moro Rock. I'm also an Ansel Adams wannabe and I would have been pretty livid if I didn't to get to the summit or ridgeline.

Use bug spray. Thought crossing into snow would happen much earlier and result in fewer bugs - was wrong!!

Bringing a pump water filter might be better than carrying a ton of water up. As others pointed out, there are four or five streams you can filter water from in the second half of the trail.

backpacking
1 month ago

We did it on July 2, 2017. The Great Western Divide was beautiful. The trail was well maintained and relatively dry. There're several water sources on the trail. The last mile was covered with slushy snow. A pair of spikes and poles would help. My GPS says it's 14.5 miles r/t.

1 month ago

such a beautiful trail. Did some running

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

We only made it to Mehrten Meadow, but this trail is gorgeous! The Giant Forest was very peaceful with water running everywhere until you reach Panther Gap. There were patches of snow, but nothing too difficult to manage. The views from Panther Gap and beyond are breath taking. Mehrten Meadow was a great place to make camp to avoid the sweltering heat. It appears you'll still need snow gear to reach anything past Mehrten Meadow. I look forward to completing this trail later this year.

backpacking
2 months ago

Our group of 3 backpacked this June 9-11. Got to Mehrten Meadow and camped there two nights. Right after Mehrten it is all snow with a lot of snow bridges and will need the correct gear to get to the peak, or even to Alta Meadow. Got down to about 20 deg at night but a fire at Mehrten really helped out. Snow will melt off in a about a month I wouldn't guess, maybe 2-3 weeks. Overall great trip, lots of snow even getting to Mehrten. Panther Gap is all clear!

2 months ago

so calm and peaceful I would recommend hiking this trail system on a week day so to be almost alone.

backpacking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

I hiked this trail over memorial day weekend. There was tons of snow and it was hard to stay on the actual trail since not many people made it to the top this year (bring a GPS) but I made it all the way. Last half mile are pretty steep and I had to crawl up on the snow. It is all worth it once you can enjoy the great view from 11200 feet.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked late May. Couldn't make it but more than 3 miles in before the snow got impossible. But there is a great view about 2.5 miles in that's spectacular! As long as you're willing to hike thru some snow! Wear either waterproof shoes or just be ready for wet socks.

3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

This is yet another great hike in SEKI. I did this back in early Oct 2015 and it was a good time of the year for it. Most of the trail is shaded except for the last mile or so. It's a decent walk through the forest and some meadows for the first few miles. After about 2.5 miles you reach panther gap and it's here where the views really impress. The next 3 miles are just amazing. I will say that having hiked a lot at 9k, going up to 11.5k was surprisingly difficult - not ridiculously strenuous for someone in shape and used to hiking, but back then this was the highest I had ever hiked up and I had expected all that hiking at 9k to lend itself more to hiking at 10k-11k. That last 0.5 mile or so was a struggle. Once on the top you can see the lakes down to the north, redwood meadow to the south and a few peaks (e.g., Lippincott, Mt Eisen) to the southeast, which still had some snow on them when we went. And although we got quite hot hiking the last mile in the sun, the top was windy and in the high 50s so we didn't stay too long.

3 months ago

amazing hike! altitude did get to my wife and myself a Lil but not too bad. Bring water! we started at 7 and we were back at the car around 4.

6 months ago

Beautiful views all the way! This trail will definitely get you winded if you haven't acclimated to the altitude. Careful!
Outback Jack