by Bill Schneider & Russ Schneider (Falcon Guides)
© Bill Schneider & Russ Schneider/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We did the shuttle trip dropping the first car at the West Fork trailhead. We started out at 11am from Lake Fork and decided to spend the night at Keyser Brown Lake. We had the entire lake to ourselves - a pleasant surprise on a Saturday of a long weekend. After visting September Morn the next day, I would say we also had the more scenic lake.
The next day we got a late start - 10am and started up the pass. The map seems misleading - there is far more elevation gain between September Morn and the pass than the map seems to indicate, so plan your time conservatively. The three mile trip took us over four hours and a half-mile stretch of it was a pretty brutal incline. The views up top were nice, but you really can only see the immediate peaks around you, they shield the rest of the wilderness from view. The valley below is stunning though. We had lunch at the top, but conserved our energy for the descent.
The trip back down was beautiful. I would defeinitely recommend coming down this way rather than going up for two reasons: 1) it is easily about 2000 feet of just switchbacks, and 2) the views are much better looking this way on the way down. We planned to camp on the bottom, but suitable campsites were hard to find and we didn't have the energy to look further so we had to make do.
The third day, we intended to make a more relaxing one, but the weather was overcast, and despite being a beautiful trail, we just wanted to power through. We'd definietly come back up the West Fork for more exploring sometime.
Take note: you will see signs at both ends of the trail indicating it is 19 miles total. This is in no way possible and I can't fathom how they arrived at this number. This website's measure of 21 miles is more in line with the actual mileage.
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