DISTANCE
8.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5098 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

no dogs

hiking
3 months ago

Make no mistake, unlike many other hard-rated hikes on this website, this one is actually hard. An information board in one of the ranger centers rated it as extremely strenuous, and while I'm not sure about the "extreme" part, "strenuous" is definitely an apt description.
You start straight off with the hardest part - very steep switchbacks through a forest that feel almost endless and offer absolutely no views to take your mind off your misery. While you gain a lot of altitude in this section, on the map it looks like you are making no progress at all, which can feel somewhat discouraging. It was warm and really humid when we did the hike, which made the first part even worse.
Once you make it beyond the switchbacks, you finally get some views, which gradually open up until you have full 360 at the top. The final push again comes in the form of a few steep switchbacks but this time they are fairly short.
Mid-July, there was still a lot of snow at the top, so sturdy boots and hiking poles are a must.
During the whole hike, we only met 3 or 4 other people, so if you want some quiet time, this hike is definitely a good place. We saw some ground-squirrels and bear footprints but no other wildlife.
In sum, this is a great hike with stunning views at the top, definitely worth the effort.