Thunder Mountain Summit is a 6.5 mile out and back trail located near Pioneer, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, trail running, and backpacking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,633 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

hiking

trail running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
1 month ago

This is a fun, moderate hike. The day we went it was incredibly windy, but we decided to soldier on. The hike below tree line is quiet and serene with moss-covered trees and typical fall foliage. We hiked in early fall, so no wildflowers, but it was still a gorgeous hike. We began our hike at 0730 and saw only hunters scouting for the upcoming hunting season as we ascended. The views are even more beautiful once you emerge from treeline with towering rock formations, exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, as well as the 3 lakes that frame this particular trek. Kirkwood Ski Resort seems almost touchable from a portion of the trail. The trail is rated as moderate and I agree, so if you are a novice hiker, pace yourself as the trail has few "level" areas with the exception of a couple saddles that give your legs (and lungs) a welcome break. Arrive early so you can summit and return without feeling rushed.

The summit itself is rather small, craggy, and requires a bit of scrambling to reach it. There are several small trails that lead to the summit, some easier than others, so choose carefully and remember to stay within your climbing ability.

It took us around 3ish hours to summit, walking at an easy pace and stopping to snap photographs along the way.

As we descended, we were glad we arrived early as we passed a steady stream of hikers on their way up.

All in all, a very nice hike. Remember to bring your camera or phone because the views are breathtaking. And honestly, what better way is there to make friends and family envious than to show them spectacular photographic evidence! :)

2 months ago

To make this hike a little more interesting – as well as difficult – we climbed Thunder Mountain then walked over to Thimble Peak on the ridge above Kirkwood to the south. At 9805’, Thimble is about 400’ higher than Thunder, but a couple decent drops along the ridge make it all add up to about 800’ and 4 miles of extra hiking. The route to Thimble starts at the Horse Canyon Trail junction just below Thunder, then basically follows the ridge except in a couple places where it dips below on the west side to avoid large rocky outcrops. There’s not really a trail, but a faint footpath can be followed most of the way—nothing tricky or dangerous, just more miles and more climbing. At the summit there’s some moderate scrambling, though we avoided the actual highpoint in favor of sitting atop an adjacent spire that looked no more than 5’ lower. I’m too old (and too wise?) to try Class 3 climbs these days, and Thimble’s real summit block looked particularly harrowing. Nonetheless, we felt like we were sitting on top of the world and views in all directions were marvelous. Adding Thimble Peak to the standard Thunder Mountain hike made for a moderate-paced hiked that clocked in at 7 hours, 11.8 miles and 2851’ of elevation gain. Thimble Peak is a strenuous but adventurous and highly recommended option to the popular Thunder Mountain hike.

4 months ago

I hiked Thunder Mountain on July 14,2018. I have done many hikes and this hike was one of the prettiest hikes I have done. Due to late snow melting and a mild summer so far, this trail was decorated with hundreds of wildflowers and greenery. It felt magical walking through it.

The total miles to the summit and back is 8 miles. I suggest leave very early as most of the trail is exposed to sun. Also, the actual summit is extremely small (maybe big enough for a handful of people). I started the trail at 7am and I was the only person on the trail. I had the summit to myself for 40 minutes. When I started to head back down, I must have passed 20-25 people coming up. The parking lot was completely full.

The trail has many sections that are flat which allow you to take a break and catch your breath. The inclines can sometimes get to 30-35%, but very doable.

This trail is going on my annual hiking list!

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike from hwy 88 trailhead to top of Thunder mountain summit. Actually 8.5 to top and back. Amazing wild flowers all along trail. Breathtaking views!

4 months ago

Did this trail with my sister. It was my first time to squaw valley. It’s a very beautiful area. We were the first two to go on the updated trail. It’s a steady incline with a couple of mountain streams next to the trail. I used them dip my hat in and cool off. There are some really great meadows as well, and all the flowers were in bloom. It’s July, so it’s definitely a bit toasty. Make sure to bring a hat and sun block.

hiking
4 months ago

Steady climb all the way up. Completed this a couple different times with my swat team as a good team building exercise and a break from our urban area regular training. The guys loved it. We did it with our plate carriers and weapons so the extra irregular shaped and displaced weight added more to the challenge. Fantastic views at the top on a clear day. Highest elevation at the top was just under 10k ft.

hiking
6 months ago

Great scenic hike in Amador/Alpine county that leads to an even more scenic view when you reach the top. The weather is consistently great in the summer (perfect hiking temperature’s).

hiking
11 months ago

Vistas rad!!

hiking
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Excellent hike. Not hard. Very nice rock formations.

hiking
Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fantastic hike. Affords tons and tons of views of Kirk wood to the east along with sentinels and to the west silver lake. Plenty of varying vegetation with several types of flowers. Easy to follow trail.

hiking
Friday, August 25, 2017

Beautiful.

hiking
Sunday, August 13, 2017

insane views, decent climb to the top :) wear shoes with good traction, plenty of water and you will have a great time. not much snow left, just a few medium patches. love watching Kirkwood from above.

hiking
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Great hike with beautiful views. The wild flowers were amazing. Our 5 month old Lab German Shepard loved the snow patches. They do cover some of the trail, it makes it a little difficult to get around but doable. Would recommend going in the AM because it gets pretty warm. But great hike!

hiking
Saturday, November 26, 2016

Awesome trail with great views of the mountains and Silver lake... You get a few peeks of Caples as well. One of my favorites for years with my boys,

Monday, October 10, 2016

Great hike with great views

hiking
Tuesday, August 02, 2016

One of the most beautiful trails I've been on! So many wild flowers on the very scenic route. Will definitely do this one again.

27 days ago

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