Thunder Mountain Loop Trail

MODERATE 48 reviews
#14 of 71 trails in

Thunder Mountain Loop Trail is a 12 mile loop trail located near Pioneer, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and camping and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

12.0 miles
2,552 feet

dog friendly



trail running




wild flowers




30 days ago

I enjoyed this hike, but did not do the full loop. I went about 4 miles out, following the ridge above Kirkwood. It's got magnificent views and lots of wildflowers. A note for those who hike with dogs: I went the second week of July and there were no natural water sources for them along that part of the trail. So bring enough water for your dogs. Even though I brought water, my dogs were still hot and tired by the time I got back to the trailhead.

1 month ago

Absolutely gorgeous! I’ve never seen so many wildflowers! Incredible views. I highly recommend this hike!

1 month ago

Great Vista with well maintained trail. Only went to top of Kirkwood and didn't complete loop but again the lie was tremendous

1 month ago

There is still snow that turned some folks back (for us that meant we had the top all to ourselves). From theHwy 88 TH it's up all the way but most of the climb is gradual until you actually get to Thunder Mountain itself. After passing through some beautiful wildflower fields and beautiful vistas we climbed above tree line. There were some small sections that required a bit of scrambling but not too bad. Actually getting out to the "top" can be a bit tricky and potentially treacherous but the views will not disappoint.

11 months ago

We started from Thunder Mtn. trailhead and headed towards Kirkwood. Was a great hike until we made the turn at the bottom of the loop at Horse Canyon Trail. Once we hit the Horse Canyon parking lot, we ran into private property and decided to hike the last few miles back in 88. App is accurate at about 12 miles. The altitude is real, we drank more water than we normally would have.

11 months ago

Great trail.Some confusion coming back to hgw.88.Beautiful view from the ridge over the canyon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Started the trail at 8 am Saturday morning, made it to the top with my 50 pounds of gear by noon. Made camp at 9200 feet of elevation. Training at altitude for High Sierra Trail/Mt Whitney in 2 weeks. I was surprised at the amount of snow still present. Did some exploring and practicing with my gear, melted snow for water etc. Great views and a decent challenge with so much weight, I stopped frequently due to heavy breathing, a great workout. Overnight camping was a blast but you'll need to put in the effort to prep a flat spot for your tent. Broke camp Sunday morning and make it back to the truck in about 2 hours. What a great local trail we have here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beautiful views! decent hike, just a few steeper parts

Monday, October 10, 2016

Great hike with fantastic views

Friday, September 16, 2016

Awesome trail I've done many times slightly different than the route displayed . The hike we take gets us closer to the campgrounds at silver lake on the way back.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The hike to the summit is awesome, but the loop trail is not worth the extra miles. Once you're close to Horse Canyon trailhead and turn onto Castle Point trail, you parallel Hwy 88 for a short distance, then cross over the highway and walk on a forest service road. It's hot, you're tired, and all the while you hear nothing but cars going by.

Friday, July 15, 2016

This review is for the portion from the Trailhead to the summit and back. Great place to hike with awesome views of the surrounding areas. Went in mid July and most of the snow was gone. Just a few patches remained.

I'd rate this as a moderate hill as the incline really works the legs and the decline can be tough on the knees and feet. The overall climb from the trailhead to the summit is about 1800 ft and about 7 miles round trip.

Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen as once you clear the tree line you are at the mercy of the sun. Also it can be very windy up there. When my group was there winds were around 30-40mph. There were a couple of times it blew us a step over.

Recommend looking at the weather as temperatures can be in the 60's the higher you go. Make sure to pack the right clothes.

Overall a great hike though and I recommend it for nearly everyone except the really young or those who have a tough on inclines/declines.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

It had some awesome views of the surrounding mountains and Silver Lake

Monday, May 16, 2016

Due to the amount of snow still at the top and on the back side of Thunder Mtn this trail is much more than a Medium level trail and in some spots very very very dangerous!

I did this trail clock wise, with shoe chains on and a day pack. What I needed was an ice pick, helmet and a 2nd day do finish the trail. The trail was ice covered making it much slower than a normal hike or snow shoe.
We completed the loop in 7.75 hours of none stop hiking. Longest stop was 5 min. and a quick look at the view from Thunder Mtn.
This is not a safe hike for newbies during the spring! Lots of creeks to cross, snow covered trail is not marked, lots of falling into melted undersnow and sliding down hills.

I suggest waiting until after July or August. If you snow shoe this trail in the winter I suggest having a radio beacon and rope. I think I"ll do the trail c'clock wise next time. Clock wise was brutal.!
We were the only people on the trail and only saw tracks from a solo hiker from a few days before us.

I'll go back in the summer to do the loop again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This hike was off the charts beautiful. Views are endless after the first mile and ridge views expand both directions. We've hiked many trails off 88 and this one is right at the top.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Very nice trail. Stunning view! Definitely one of my favorite. We did not do the loop. We just did the Thunder mountain peak and back but I will go back again to the whole thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Nice steady climb, our favorite hike thus far because of the amazing views!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

This was a great day with my 11 and 12 year old boys. It's an easy hike with lots of great views. I've wanted to climb this peak since I first saw it at age 17 so it's extra special to do it with my kids. One quick suggestion. Go early in the day so you avoid the summertime thunderstorms. We almost made it but got caught in hail and rain the last mile. Still a great adventure.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Beautiful trail with fantastic views! Not crowded today. Made it about 3/4 of a mile past the turn off for Two Sentinels trail because of the snow. A family made it to the top. Not sure where the trail went because of teh snowfields. Hope to finish it later in the season.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Great trail with nice views and variety.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Beautiful! I enjoyed seeing the surrounding areas of Kirkwood resort without all of the snow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great hike with a lot of amazing views. Very interesting rock formations along the way and lots of wild flowers. The hike is quite strenuous in some parts but definitely doable. The view at the top is amazing. It overlooks beautiful Silver Lake. Bring plenty of water and a good lunch and don't forget your sunscreen as it is very exposed half the time. Oh make sure to have plenty of gasoline in your vehicle as the only gas available is a one - pump station in Kirkwood, and it is pay by card only. The cost of the gas is $5.00/gal. Enjoy your hike!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Great views and interesting rock formations along the way. Recommend early start in summer as it gets hot in the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Incredible trail, really worth the effort of climbing to the top. Would highly recommend the out and back, don't do the 11.5 mile loop not worth it.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

If you are a Kirkwood local you'll love this hike even more because most of the trail follows the ridge of Kirkwood Ski Resort, allowing you to view all the runs and lifts from the top. I live in the area and can take the elevation but whew, there were a few sections that I was struggling to catch my breath. Overall though I'd say this is a moderately difficult hike. With generous breaks and time to enjoy the panoramic views it took about 3.5 hrs round trip. Don't forget to sign your name on a notebook in the coffee can found at the summit!

Friday, July 22, 2011

This was an amazing hike. I encoutered a beautiful buck on the trail. It is no cake walk but, not all that tough. Awesome views of Silver Lakes and several other beautiful Alpine Lakes. Gotta do this one again!!!

recorded ugh..done

1 month ago

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