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Sawtooth Pass Trail

HARD 20 reviews
#26 of 83 trails in

Sawtooth Pass Trail is a 10.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Three Rivers, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
10.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,297 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

Sawtooth Pass has a brilliant perspective of Mineral King Valley, Lost Canyon, Monarch Lakes, and Columbine Lake. Sawtooth Pass in Mineral King Valley strafes the serrated edge of Sawtooth Peak, the largest prominence in the area at 12,343 ft. Climbing to the top of the pass reveals views of alpine glacial gems like Columbine Lake, Monarch Lakes, Mineral Peak and Mineral King Valley. Overnight backpacking or camping is a must when visiting Mineral King. Reaching Sawtooth Pass can be achieved in a day. Getting to the top of Sawtooth Peak is a tough scramble, and the trail does not go to the top. Wildlife is abundant and the landscape is massive, about 12,600 acres. A vast range of attributes including the geology, forest, and glacial lakes make this hike unique.

hiking
1 month ago

I truly enjoyed this trail it was fabulous and anytime you get to spend time in The magic of the Sierra Mountains that is where it’s at.. the shale to the top of the pass is the best it’s a wonderful workout and the view is amazing I will have to say the undefined trail in the shale makes sense once you have climbed to the top.. I really loved this hike

hiking
2 months ago

We backpacked at Monarch Lake the night before climbing Sawtooth Pass. At this season seems the weather is clear in morning but gets foggy in the afternoon.
The trail to Lower Monarch Lake is obvious, even about the last mile and mile half is covered in snow. We brought crampons and ice axes, which made the trekking much easier. But still, the steep snow slope looks pretty dangerous and have proper equipment will give you peace in mind and tool to self arrest if anything happens.
Even though the Lower Monarch Lake is largely covered with ice, the temperature is not too low, I'd say 30 degree at night, and we are able to get water at the lake.
The trail to Sawtooth Pass mostly has no snow, but really hard to find human track at this early in the season, I ended up using ice axe to cross patches of ice when climbing totally off trail to the pass. Take extra caution when moving on the slope. It's like 50 degree or above incline and with sandy terrain, the sand is extremely slippery on rocks.
The west side of the Sawtooth Pass is mostly clear of snow, but as soon as you reach the pass you can see the other side of it is covered in completely white. Snow is couple feet high over the pass. View at the pass is breath taking.
Getting downhill is mandatory hill and can be very challenging. My buddy with crampon on felt it's easier as the traction on sandy slope helps. Me, I mostly slide one foot in careful position, moving sideways, sometimes sit down or hunch down to help stabilize the sliding. Be super careful where you step on! Pure sand has more traction than sand on rock. Also notice some part, even no snow/ice, but the small pebbles are frozen together made it hard and slippery.
We took 2 hrs to ascent from Lower Monarch Lake to the Pass.

2 months ago

Went there end of May backpacking. Last mile to the lake was on a slope covered with snow, we passed it with ice axe and crampons easily. I saw people walked by with trekking boots and poles but you might want to think twice and takes extreme caution. Heading towards sawtooth pass was very hard for me cause I failed to find the right route and struggled a lot along sandy mountain. Weather was cool not cold, afternoon fog brought bad condition to the trail. Breathtaking view when sunset and sunrise. Lots of marmots around the lake.

backpacking
11 months ago

Now this my friends is a true hike! Beautiful views and a hell of a lot of work. My buddy and I did the upper saw tooth loop. About 45 miles. Tons of wild life and vegetation. We'd be hiking on rocks then be in fern forests. Read your map carefully because there is a lot of elevation drops to 8k then climbing back up to 11k. Tons of work. Plan your days accordingly and it will be such a great trip.

backpacking
11 months ago

Amazing hike with a few options to continue on and connect to other trails. Sawtooth peak is also a great peak to be claimed by any peakbagger

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Still very snowy (6/11/2017), picked out an old route on the north side (climber's left) of Monarch Creek to avoid the sketchy river crossing, rangers suggested this alternative despite the harder route-finding. Almost entirely snow past the first meadow where you'd normally cross the river. Made it to monarch lakes, and up to the pass in the AM (~1 hr from lakes). I'd recommend crampons & ice axe for the pass! It's all snow up to the ridge. Marmots are active! found one trying to get at my car when I hiked back down.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

the lakes blew my mind!!
towards the end of 2016.
i cant wait to go back..

hiking
Monday, August 15, 2016

Great view. Difficult climb, but the way down was not as bad as I was expecting at all. The scree catches your feet in a similar way to going down sand, so while slipping is a concern, it is not as bad as many other steep trails I have had to climb down.

hiking
Friday, December 07, 2012

Awesome. we reached it on the back side after doing some pretty intense cross country hiking.

hiking
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Took a route around Upper Monarch past Mineral King on the way in, and back down Sawtooth Pass on the way out. The panoramic views from the summit are awesome, and it turned out to be a great place to spend an hour taking pictures and laying in the sun. The rain and lightning rolled in around 2, but by noon we had made it back down to Lower Monarch and set up some shelter.

Absolutely worth the effort.

hiking
Thursday, June 21, 2012

A very long day no matter how you cut it, I recommend climbing via Glacier Pass to avoid much of the sand that makes up the regular trail. Leaving Mineral King at the Sawtooth parking area, go one mile to Groundhog Meadow. Instead of following the trail straight ahead to the stream crossing, skirt the meadow around to the left. (A secondary footpath should be discernible.) This footpath will circumnavigate the meadow as it climbs across a talus slope. As you follow this lightly traveled trail you see a relatively steep valley toward your left. This is your route.
This will take you to Glacier Pass. Do not go over the pass. Instead, traverse in a southerly direction toward Sawtooth where the view is "edge of the world" dramatic!
The return is much more direct. Running down the sand is actually fun.

hiking
1 month ago

6 months ago

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11 months ago

Sunday, August 13, 2017

hiking
Sunday, July 16, 2017

hiking
Tuesday, August 23, 2016