A fantastic, though strenuous, full-day hike with terrific payoff of the most rugged part of the gore. I did this hike solo, but do not recommend it. There were no other hikers and too many ankle wrenching obstacles.
Began at 7am at in Piney Ranch; ended around 5pm. The first stretch to the turn-off to head up to the mountain is a pleasant walk.The piney creek water shed is glorious.
I found the turn off within .1 mile as indicated in the trail guide. It was marked with small cairns and there was a visable hill. In less than 1 mile from the turn off hte trail disappeared, but bushwacking was easy. I occasionally found signs of trails, but they were more likely deer than hikers. Eventually I used GPS to get to the creek which leads to the basin before knee knocker pass. From there it is was straightforward.
The basin is an epic sight. A tranquil meadow surrounded 270 degrees buy mountains and larger rocks, with a view back to the trailhead.
The push up to knee knocker was a challenge because of loose scree. I took a lunch break at the pass and was joined by mountain goats. Descent on the other side of the pass was difficult because loose dirt and rock. I scree surfed my way down to the boulder field below. Note that on the return, getting back up to knee knocker pass was extremely difficult. I had to stab my poles, like ice axes, and used hand holds on the rock protrusion about 1/2 way up. If I did it again, I might stay to the far right and use the snow field or boulders.
The route to the summit ridge was improvised. I chose the boulder scramble to the right of the ridge. Once on the ridge, the summit was a quick climb with an incredible pay off. The eastern and northern views included the rugged grand traverse, saw tooth ridge, numerous alpine and summit county. Eagles Nest, the ridge south of knee knocker and a clear view back down to piney creek were to the west and south.
I found the hike to be longer than expected, but more than worthwhile.