Back to index Wolf Creek Trail Hike
Trip Date:  8/13/2020

Distance: 12.5 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1700'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy  
Moderate   Hard   Strenuous
Wolf Creek Hike
  Download GPX GPX for this trip
Wolf Creek Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 35.583, W 119 41.800     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 4 from the east side where it starts at the junction with Highway 89 (at the start of Monitor Pass.)  Turn left at the junction of Wolf Creek Rd and Highway 4, and follow this road for about 5 miles to the parking area at the campground.  The first couple miles are paved but the rest is dirt road suitable for 2WD vehicles.
Hazards of Note:   Remote mountain trail that is well defined but off the beaten path.   Chances of wildlife encounters including mountain lions and black bears.

Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  There might be some people from the campground along Wolf Creek over the first half mile or so, but otherwise you will probably have this entire trail to yourself.
General Notes:
From the parking area near the campground, head toward the trailhead kiosk and continue west past the gate which blocks vehicle access from this trail.  This was an old jeep trail before the area become part of the Carson-Iceberg wilderness as evidenced by older maps showing this feature.  You will enter the wilderness area almost immediately, passing one of the iconic wooden wildness name signs.  The trail mostly follows a gradual slope up along the way, following the north side of the creek for most of the way.  Much of the first 3 1/2 miles are trekking through the forest in the river canyon, but every once in a while there are nice views toward Mineral Mountain and an unnamed sharp, pointed peak to the south.  
Past the 5 mile mark the trail bends sharply to the right and begins a short, steep climb for about 200 feet, and at the top of this section is an old barbed wire gate that is still intact and able to be easily passed through by slipping the catch off of the gate post.  Once you cross over this the views really open up without as much vegetation lining the trail, and there is a bonus of the Wolf Creek Falls to your left.  There are great views of the multiple level falls down to the south of the trail, including the 30' main section of falls.
As an extra bonus, continue about 6/10 of a mile further, then navigate off the trail about 300' to find yourself at an old, intact metal cabin in the midst of a gorgeous meadow setting.  The cabin is an unusual feature in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness area, and appears to be still in use as a small peek into the structure showed some modern items such as rope, saws, a ladder and even an ice chest.

This kiosk near the parking area is where the trail begins (directly behind it,) and includes wilderness infomration and even self-service overnight permits. Trailhead area
This gate blocks vehicle access to the trail which has been converted from an old jeep trail before the Wilderness Area was created. Trailhead
The entrance to the Wilderness area is almost immediate once you hit the trail.  Most of the trail is in really good condition with evidence of much clearing and maintenance. Carson-Iceberg Entrance 
For the entire trip the trail parallels Wolf Creek, sometimes actually passing within just feet of the water. Early trail
A mile into the hike the trail leads away from the water for the first time, skirting a pleasant meadow that has open views toward Mineral Mountain to the south.
Open Meadow
There is an unnamed but very distinctive peak west of the larger Mineral Mountain to the south.  One of the maps indicated a feature called Soda Cone, but not sure if this is it or not. Unnamed peak
This log cut was the most impressive example of trail maintenance on the way, because being in the Wilderness means these cuts all have to be made by hand. Trailwork
This barbed wire fencing was so old that the top row didn't even have much evidence of disturbance from the bark which has regrown over it. Old fencing 
Almost to the falls we caught a good glimpse of the volcanic peak that towered over the cabin we ended up finding at our turn-around point on the day. Nice view 
Although this trail was remote, it was well marked including this junction to head up toward Bull Lake and then eventually Noble Lake as an option. Bull Lake Junction
Someone put a lot of effort into this firepit and the seating next to it. Nice camp
Past this old gate the trail really opened up with nice views all around, and a look at the Wolf Creek Falls just ahead. Old gate
Even this late in the year the falls were flowing well, and the water looked very inviting on a hot day such as this one. Wolf Creek Falls
Mark stopped for a quick break on the way as we got closer to the destination we were scouting for. Mark on the trail
Having discovered a black square (indication of a human structure) on the topo map while researching this trip, we were pleasantly surprised to discover the place still existed.   Cabin
Although appearing to be boarded up, we discovered that there has been recent activity in the place as evidenced by the items discovered inside. Another look
Lots of items in the cabin that show fairly recent use by someone.Inside
Outside of the cabin there were some interesting artifacts, including this heavy anvil which neither of us volunteered to pack out of the wilderness. Anvil
The old corral was broken down but someone had put a lot of effort into building it at one point. Old corral
Quite the impressive backdrop behind the cabin area with this mountain towering a couple thousand feet above it.Impressive Backdrop
Getting our bearings of the area after stopping for lunch and studying the map, we were able to make out the back side of 11K' Highland Peak to the north, which we had hiked near earlier this year on the way to Noble Lake. Highland Peak
On the way back out we stopped to check out the alien head shaped rock that appeared to be watching over Wolf Creek Falls. Alien Rock
GPS Track of our out and back hike, starting from the upper right and heading down the canyon to the bottom left before returning the way we came. GPS Track of Hike