The Horse Creek Trail leading to the Sawtooth Ridge in the Hoover Wilderness begins at the Mono Village Resort. From the trailhead parking area, follow the little path into the trailer park, cutting left through the southeastern edge of the park to a road with a cable across it. Follow the road to the bridge across Robinson Creek, following the "Trail" signs through the forest across a little log footbridge to the Wilderness Information signboard. Take the trail to the right, immediately climbing to the first switchback leading to the popular Horsetail Falls. This series of switchbacks shows much evidence of trailcutting, which will lead to major erosion damage. All trail users should please avoid cutting the switchbacks. A second, smaller cascade lies at the turn of the next switchback as the trail continues to climb steadily upward.
Taking a southerly direction, the trail brings into view the magnificent Sawtooth Ridge, with the Cleaver forming the western boundary of the canyon. The trail then crosses a steep, brushy slope with scattered white fir and quaking aspen trees with the creek downslope winding through a stand of standing dead lodgepole pine, apparent victims of flooding due to beaver activity along the creek. Ahead there is another, true waterfall, then the trail climbs again through aspen groves (golden-leafed in the fall) and then into some very large Jeffrey pines. The creek broadens out into some inviting pools as the trail levels out for a while. Here the left fork leads to Cattle Creek, straight ahead continues on the Horse Creek Trail.
The trail continues fairly level for a stretch with lots of water in this area amidst the Jeffrey pines and aspen, then climbs again through more mixed forest before narrowing through a very brushy somewhat damp area, which may be difficult to cross earlier in the season. Crossing the first big rock slide leads to an open area amidst large boulders where a few wildflowers linger even in September. There are Indian paintbrush, scarlet gilia, yarrow amongst others. Here is the sign for the Hoover Wilderness Boundary, marking the Sawtooth Ridge area where groups are limited to eight and no campfires are permitted. The going is slow through the willows, along the creek and then right above the creek as it flows beneath the rocks. The trail continues over and around boulders that have tumbled down the mountainside. Stay above the willows to access the trail across the rock slide, amongst the low growing bright yellow wildflowers and lavender phlox adding great color to the scenery. The trail is now difficult to find at times - look ahead to pick it out whenever it seems to disappear. Here one fork of the creek descends from above on the western side to join the main flow, and the eastern slopes are dotted with wild currant bushes, loaded with red berries in September, and the fragrant mountain pennyroyal. Then the trail becomes seriously steep, climbing across rock slides and talus, with a view of a waterfall high in the "rock wall" now blocking the climb up the canyon. It's a long, steep climb straight uphill along the edge of the slide. Remember to look ahead to pick out the trail in the rockier areas. The creek is forced to run downhill beneath the slide. Finally the trail achieves the top and the canyon reveals another barrier to a full view of the Sawtooth Ridge, a smaller ridge cutting across the canyon. The floor of the canyon is littered with boulders and downed trees while a few live ones line the creek along the eastern edge. The trail vaguely descends to the canyon floor where it soon peters out and the climb becomes even more of a challenge, and a time-consuming one at that. Access the Matterhorn and to view Spiller Canyon. Remember to allow plenty of time for the descent which can be very slow as the trail is steep with difficult footing. When skirting the edge of the rock slide, going down , watch for a little stand of fir trees on the left where the trail takes off to the right across the slide.
Directions: From Bridgeport, Follow the Twin Lakes Road until it ends at the Mono Village Resort. Parking is available at the far end of the resort area at no charge for day use, with a $5 fee for overnight parking.
Elevation: 7,092 feet
Ending Elevation: 10,000 feet
Elevation Gain: 2,008 feet
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Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada
Review by Wildernet Copyright © 2010 Wildernet.com all rights reserved.
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