Trail Conditions 2019 Update

This is a summary of the comments that I made to the original blog post while in the field, and a bit additional from the second part of my trip. These observations were made 2019-07-15 through 2019-07-24, so snow conditions and creek crossings will have changed by now. Peak snow melt is definitely past, and all the creeks are dropping.

Granite Chief Trail: good condition, one 42 inch tree tangle and a few smaller; first snow 2370m, more towards top but all passable.

PCT Granite Chief Trail to Granite Chief saddle: 20% snow coverage overall, but complete coverage up the north side of saddle. Thru hikers have beat out a reasonable route. Steep north slope requires snow spikes, or tedious step kicking.

Tevis Cup Trail: some snow at beginning and in trees west of old boundary. Several muddy areas and water running on trail, a few erosion problems. West part from old boundary rerouted and now a trail rather than logging roads.

Talbot Trail: no issues, other than it is boring and comes out onto FR51 way too early. No water past the creek near the north end.

Western States Trail (Picayune): overall good condition; a few medium trees, one large, several small; tangle of downed trees just below ridge is now cleared; some snow patches. Crossing of Talbot Creek rock hop or log. Crossing of Middle Fork, knee deep wade with poles for stability, or logs down below, rock hop not possible yet.

Five Lakes Creek Trail: about 30 down trees, all but one large easy to step over or go around. Crossing Five Lakes Creek, knee deep wade in moderately fast water; Bear Pen Creek, shallow wade; no rock hop for either yet. Grouse Creek is a rock-hop (Grouse Creek will dry completely at some point during the summer). Moderate winter debris on the trail.

Whiskey Creek Trail: one medium tree down at beginning. Whiskey Creek now a rock-hop (updated 2019-07-24).

from Alpine Meadows TH: Five Lakes Trail good condition; Squaw Saddle trail good condition; PCT Five Lakes jct to Whiskey Creek jct good condition, one small tree.

Powderhorn Trail: about 25 trees down, most small but one medium and two large; two might not be passible for horses. A lot of winter debris on the trail. All watercourses flowing. Snow from boundary up to ridge 40%, trail can be followed with a close eye.

PCT from Barker Pass to TRT: snow patches on east side of ridge after trail reaches ridge; multiple patches on the east/north side of ridge approaching the wilderness boundary, though the steep snowbank that stops people in many years is easy to navigate this year; snow patches through the trees to the PCT/TRT junction.

Hell Hole Trail: I did sufficient trail maintenance that the trail can now be followed from Diamond Crossing to Steamboat Creek, including through the downfall tangle past Buckeye Creek where the trail was lost. There are hundreds of trees down (really!), but almost all can be stepped over, climbed over, or bypassed on well established use paths. There is thick winter debris on the trail in many sections, only a small part of which was removed. The trail past Steamboat Creek has become more vague with time, and I’m not sure it can be followed anymore, but I did not explore extensively. Five Lakes Creek is a shallow wade, both forks of Buckeye Creek are rock hops, and Steamboat Creek is a rock hop. Though Steamboat Creek was flowing well 2019-07-24, it always dries at the trail crossing at some point during the summer, though water might be found upstream or downstream.

Trails not checked: Shanks Cove Trail (it was reported to me by hikers that they were unable to follow the trail from the junction with Western States to the ridgeline, probably in the downfall area climbing out of the little valley). Lower Hell Hole Trail. Greyhorse Trail. Bear Pen Trail. Most of the PCT. I figure information about the PCT is more widely available, so I did not do trail condition observations on the majority of the PCT through the wilderness.

3 thoughts on “Trail Conditions 2019 Update

  1. Ming

    Thanks for all the information – this blog is one of the very few places on the internet I could find any kind of recent information on Granite Chief, and I really appreciate the work you do on the trails!

  2. Ming

    Thanks for the trail report! I’m planning to trip to Granite Chief this weekend (Powderhorn to Whiskey Creek with a side trip to Bear Pen, then back to Barker Pass Rd via the PCT). Happy to post a trip report when I’m back. Were the mosquitos/bugs pretty bad on your trip?

    1. Dan Allison Post author

      You should be able to follow Bear Pen Trail in general, though you may lose it in places. I did some trail definition work here two years ago, but the passage of time will erase my efforts. The location where the trail crosses the creek out of Bear Pen is hard to navigate, very steep banks and thick vegetation that makes it hard to go around. Bear Pen is not much used.

      The mosquitoes were moderate, not as bad as I might expect in a wet year. I try to find drier places away from meadows and dense forest to camp, and that helps, but there will still be mosquitoes. Some locations they are only out morning and evening, but others, all night long.



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