Back to index Mt. Ralston Hike (2nd)
Trip Date:  05/11/2013

: 8.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2800'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Mt. Ralston Route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Mt. Ralston Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 48.238, W 120 07.045     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   For Mt. Ralston trailhead parking find the Camp Sacramento parking area just a couple miles east of the trailhead parking.  Pull off on the north side of the road at the parking area with a "Mt. Ralston Trailhead" sign along the fenced parking area.   Sometimes you can continue up this dirt road past the small church and park in the limited size Desolation Wilderness kiosk location to take 1/2 mile off the start and end of this hike.
Hazards of Note:   This hike is on established trail the entire way but has extremely steep sections.  Hiking this in wet weather would be slippery at best. Crowd Factor:   Limited.  Although this is perhaps the quickest way into Desolation Wilderness with a spectacular payoff view at the top, it is a difficult trail and not as popular as other entrances into the area.
General Notes:
The beginning of the hike starts a constant climb up the south side of Mt. Ralston, and there are a number of switchbacks that you will continue up as you make your way along the trail.  Just a little bit before you enter into the Wilderness (noted by a wooden sign,) look for a well-used trail off to the right which will take you down to a nice spot along the creek which parallels the trail for much of the way as an option for water or cooling off.
Less than a mile from the summit there is a wide, flat area in which you can rest, and decide to either continue on the trail to the 'official' junction and trail up to the peak, or from here you can just head up the obvious use trail which pretty much heads directly to the summit.

Nice waterfall just off the trail. Waterfall off trail
Phil ready for the climb up the mountain. Phil ready for the climb
Patches of snow as we neared the top. Patches of snow near the top
Looking at the Mokulumne Wilderness and Thunder Mountain from the hike. Looking at the Mokulumne Wilderness near the summit
Sierra at Tahoe and toward Carson Pass from the summit. Sierra at Tahoe from the summit
Dustin almost to the top with Sayles Canyon in the background -- Lover's Leap is far down on the left side. Phil and Julia at the top
Looking across Desolation to Jack's and Dick's Peaks. Jack and Dick's Peaks
Snow-covered Pyramid Peak from the Ralston summit. Pyramid Peak
Mt. Agassiz and Mt. Price from the summit of Ralston. Agassiz and Price
Myself at the top with Becker Peak and Freel Peak in the background. Greg at the summit
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike