[Adam is a twit because this SSI is broken] Lake Alpine's Inspiration Point Hike (Winter) [Adam is a twit because this SSI is broken]

Lake Alpine's Inspiration Point Hike (Winter)
(Saturday, November 16, 2002 near Lake Alpine, CA)

See also my photo album from this hike.

Sarah and I drove up Hwy 4 from my family's cabin, intending to park at the seasonal road closure, which the Caltrans website said was at the east end of Lake Alpine. Since that's where the Inspiration Point trailhead is, I figured that'd work nicely. Anticipating a short hike (its only 2.2mi from the trailhead to the point and back), I brought along only one water bottle and no food, thus ensuring a much longer hike than planned ;).

Lake Alpine It turned out that the Caltrans website lied, and Hwy 4 was closed at its usual deep-of-winter location, just past the Mt. Reba turnoff. After buying a season "Sno-Park" permit, we parked and hit the road at 11:50. It was doubly annoying that the road was closed a couple miles earlier than I expected, as there was absolutely no snow at all on the closed road, but at least that made the hike to Lake Alpine a pretty fast one. As ever, Lake Alpine looks just lovely when its blanketed with snow, and we enjoyed walking along in relative quiet and looking up at the ridge on which Inspiration Point resides. We hiked along the east access road of Lake Alpine, which was not plowed, and there was enough snow to make going a bit on the annoying post-hole side of things. When we could, we left the road and walked in the forest, as there was much less snow there.

We arrived at the proper trailhead about 44 minutes after setting out, and made our way along the southeast shores of the Lake, getting lovely views here and there through the trees. We easily found the trail to Inspiration Point (the missing sign from last time had been replaced), and slowly made our way upwards towards the point. The routefinding wasn't too tricky, there mostly being blazes (cuts) on the nearby trees to assist us in staying on the trail. Before too long, we attained the snowy ridge and headed east'ish to the point. There were very Panorama from Inspiration Point few signs of any previous human travel since the snows came two weeks prior, and we enjoyed the near-total solitude offered (only marred for a few seconds by a nearby snowmobile). The views of the Dardanelles were fantastic from the point, and even Duck Lake looked nice (its usually a pretty unattractive brackish mucky pond). Sarah built a small snowperson, and after spending nearly a half hour enjoying the views, we headed back down.

Being as I don't like out-and-back journeys, we decided to go off-trail and loop around the other, non-highway, side of the Lake. We quickly came to the Lakeshore Trail, and followed it southwest around the lake. I was expecting the trail to cross the dam and quickly rejoin the highway, but instead it went along the river, crossed it, and meandered its way to a junction with the Emmigrant Trail and the Slickrock Trail (which I'd driven on my off-road motorcycle many years ago). We moseyed past some lakeside cabins and came to a lovely place of smooth granite next to the lake that offered very near lake access and great views. We spent a short while there, then continued onwards, eventually rejoining the highway, and shortly thereafter got back to the car.

This was a very fun early winter snow hike, although it probably isn't too terribly safe once the deep snows have set in (possible avalanche risk on the ridge by the point). It was certainly a whole lot prettier than it was when there was no snow, that's for sure!

Hike Stats:
Distance: ~5.5mi
Total Time: 4h 7m (including 22min dwell time at the point)
Total Climbing: a few hundred ft
Difficulty: 3
Scenery: 4
Trail condition/markings/etc: 4

Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul