Back to index Mokelumne Peak

Trip Date:  07/26/2019

: 17.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 3950'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Mokelumne Peak Route
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Mokelumne Peak Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 31.408
W 120 10.414
    End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   Take Highway 88 to the Bear River Reservoir exit and head downhill and cross over the dam.  Continue on this paved road, passing the South Shore and Pardoes Point campgrounds.  After 4.25 miles on this road, take the first left turn at Forest Service Road 8N14, which is still on paved surface.  Follow the signs to the Cole Creek Campground.  Stay on this road for another 5.7 miles.  You will start to see signs for Tanglefoot Trailhead.  Following these signs, turn left and cross two bridges over Cole Creek.  After this point a dirt road continues 3.8 miles to the trailhead.  On this road ignore various spur trails to the left and right.  About 1/3 mile before the trailhead there is a fork in the road.  Stay to the left to reach the trail, passing along a tight squeeze between shrubbery which might want to have its way with your vehicle's paint.
Hazards of Note:   Getting to the trailhead is one of the hardest parts of this hike.   Footing on the granite section of trail down into the canyon can be tricky, and is probably one of the reasons this trail is called "Tanglefoot."   There are 4 miles of trail to and from the peak which are cross-country and will require route-finding skills.
Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  The trailhead is not easy to get to, and the trail heads into a pretty remote part of the Mokelumne Wilderness.  Your best chance of meeting others on the trail are those either heading to or from the far shorter hike to Shriner Lake.
General Notes:
From the parking area, the trailhead is at the sign immediately to the north of the vehicle parking spots.  Head up the trail for the first mile through forested area, gradually gaining elevation until you reach the open views into Tanglefoot Canyon and the imposing sight of Mokelumne Peak about 7 or 8 miles to the east.  About a mile and a half into the hike is the junction for the short 1/2 mile trail to Shriner Lake on your left, which can make for a nice camp spot with very little traffic.   The trail then begins a significant descent into Tanglefoot canyon along an impressive pathway undoubtedly crafted by the CCC members back in the 1930s when a lot of work cutting paths through the Sierras (including Yosemite) were done.  When you reach the bottom of the canyon there might be a crossing of Tanglefoot Creek over logs necessary in the spring or early summer, and you wind through the forest for a short distance before you begin an ascent of the east side of the canyon on your way up to Moraine Lake about 4.5 miles from the trailhead.
Past Moraine Lake the trail continues it's constant climb, heading up through forest and a couple of meadows before you reach the point about 6 1/2 miles into the hike where you will leave the trail and travel cross-country to the east up to the peak.  About 1/2 a mile past Moraine Lake is where you might find water crossing the trail, your last chance for water to and from the peak.
The last 500 feet to the top of the peak is best attempted from the south side, which includes a rock scramble where you are constantly searching for footing which will not include a rocking boulder.  

Nobody else at the trailhead either at the start or the end of the trip, and nobody else encountered during the entire 17 mile trek.
Parking area

Nothing on the sign this season but this is the trailhead to the north of the parking area.
Trailhead sign 

At the trail junction to Shriner Lake about a mile and a half in, you leave behind your last best chance to run into others on this trek.
Trail junction 

Just about to head down into the Tanglefoot Canyon, there is a brief view of the peak far off in the distance.
Peak in the distance 

Looking east from the top of the Tanglefoot Canyon, toward Munsen Meadow far in the distance.
Looking East 

At the bottom of the Tanglefoot Canyon, there is a log crossing to keep out of the water.
Crossing the stream

Heading back up the far side of Tanglefoot Canyon, Moraine Lake is a good rest location and a source of water.  However, be aware this lake is full of small leeches and swimming is not advisable.
Moraine Lake 

There is a nice campsite to the south of Moraine Lake, which had a lot of garbage we ended up packing out on the way back.
Moraine Lake 

After climbing up out of the canyon from the Moraine Lake side, some wonderfully colorful meadows filled with flowers are bisected by the trail.
 Stunning Meadow

Leaving the trail and going cross country is relatively easy with low vegetation and trees the only barriers on the trail.  No major bush-whacking!
Cross country

Attaining the ridgeline, you get the first of many amazing views all around, including this one to the northeast of the back of Round Top Mountain.

With only about a mile to go, the peak comes into view again and the rocks which will have to be negotiated to the top.
The Peak

Heading up the ridgeline is a constant elevation gain but the views make it amazingly worthwhile.
Open ridgeline

Standing at the south side of the peak, the view up to what has to be negotiated to attain the summit.
Just up there...

The views at the top are truly spectacular!

Everywhere you look is an amazing sight.

Except here.
Except here

Mark enjoying a well-earned lunch at the summit.
Mark lunch

The official survey benchmark we found at the top of the peak.

On the way back down, just below Moraine Lake is one of the logs we cut and managed to get past the trail a season ago on a trail maintenance crew.
Last season

The GPS track of the peak climb from right to left and back. GPS Track of Hike