Olancha Peak Trail

Cartago, California 93549

Olancha Peak Trail

Olancha Peak Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Olancha Peak is one of fifteen Sierra Club Sierra Peaks Section emblem peaks, meaning that it dominates the area around it and can be clearly seen towering above the rest of the peaks in the region. Olancha is the southernmost California peak reaching over 12,000 feet in height, and is pictured on every bottle of Crystal Geyser drinking water. The summit provides incredible views of the entire southern Sierra, the Great Western Divide, Death Valley, and other peaks and valleys to the south."

More Olancha Peak Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The southernmost dramatic peak on the east side of the Sierra. Visible from Highway 395, the cliffs on the east face of Olancha Peak rise to a flat summit. Olancha Peak is the prominent mountain rising above the ridgeline of the eastern Sierra south of the town of Olancha. Many references seem to regard this peak as being south of the High Sierra, but at 12,000 feet with a vertical gain of more than 6,000 feet from the trailhead, it will do. Like many of the lower-altitude east-Sierra trailheads, this one gets a lot of morning sun and heats up quickly. Early starts are desirable."

Olancha Peak Trail Reviews

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Amazing hike up, what, 5000 ft?? from the Sage Flat trailhead, in about 4 1/2 hours to a campsite about a mile passed Olancha Pass right before we met up with the PCT. It was straight uphill, on loose dirt which felt like sand, through many switchbacks. If I had the energy to look back, I saw magnificent views, beautiful rocks and an awesome horizon. It was a very difficult hike for me and the altitude did not help. We arrived at camp around 5pm, it got dark around 6pm, slept at 7pm. Only while camping am I able to sleep from 7pm til 7 am! Our plan was to hike up to Olancha Peak the next day and stay another night by Cow Creek, which the PCT follows for a mile or two, however all the creeks were dry, and we did not pack enough water for another nights' stay. D'oh!!! So, the next day, we attempted a hike up to Olancha Peak. It was about 4 miles from our campsite, meaning we had only a limited amount of time to hit Olancha Peak and hike back down to our car. The hike up the Peak was somewhat difficult through boulders. Even just the views from treeline made it worth it. But we had to book it and hiked the last 10 miles back to our car, without water, and extremely exhausted. We made it back just as it got dark, and have enjoyed the following two days with extremely sore legs. All I can say is that I would've rated this hike a 4 or 5 stars if there was water available at the route we took. But cutting our trip short a night made it feel rushed and ended up exhausted, but still somewhat satisfied. I would say this was probably one of the most difficult hikes I've been on with the sudden ascent / descent to and from Olancha Pass.
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Good solid hike. My dog and I have done this twice as an overnighter. Last Christmas we hiked through snow several feet deep beyond Olancha Pass to the summit - tricky navigating the boulders near the summit in those conditions, as it is very easy to punch through the snow into deep air pockets and turn an ankle. This past trip required no snowshoes or crampons. Temperatures were about 18 degrees, winds about 30-40 mph, blowing snow with no accumulation. The summit was whited out, so no views were to be had. Water is available at Summit Meadows and along the early stretch of PCT. I imagine in the summer the trail from Sage Flat is a scorcher. Also, the trip is closer to 22 miles round trip than the posted 13 miles.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
4,100 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
7 hours
Early summer to late fall
8,000 feet
Trailhead Elevation
12,123 feet
Top Elevation
Sequoia National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Olancha, Monache Mountain
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018