The heavy winter blanket of snow deposited in our Sierra Nevada Mountains is starting to melt. Now is the time to set up those future hiking trips for summer.
One such trip a few miles up the road from California’s Mono Hot Springs begins just west of Edison Lake that will test your four wheel driving skills and hiking stamina from 8,000 to 10,401 feet. The destination is Arch Rock, located west of the saddle leading to Frog and Margaret Lakes.
You’ll depart Edison Lake on the 4×4 road leading to Onion Springs. The dirt road will pass Cunningham Pack Station before starting this four mile drive.
While I was driving this road during the summer of 2007, I high centered my Jeep on the exposed boulders. Be prepared to challenge large rocks and forge three creeks. To complete this journey your vehicle must be equipped with four wheel drive and high ground clearance. The creek crossing may be difficult during May and June depending on the snow run off.
Once arriving at Onion Springs you’ll forge the final creek. Now look to the north side of the road for the trailhead. If your departure was late in the day, Onion Springs will be an ideal place to set up your campsite.
With its fresh running stream and century old trees, it should offer you comfort during the hot summer days. Your next choices of campsite will be along the trail at one of the two streams, one at 8,400 feet and the other at 9,600 feet. These areas are idea for a base camp if you decide on a day hike to Arch Rock.
At the saddle, start hiking west toward the next summit (no trail). Just over the rise will be Arch Rock. This huge rock formation is isolated from any supporting rock walls. It is more than 50 feet high with an arch more than 60 feet long.
The unique laying of rocks is questionable supporting this structure. But nature is offering us another one of her unique creations. There is no access beyond the arch, just a tapering mountain dropping off a few hundred feet into a lower canyon.
On my last visit the aggressive maneuvering of a Golden Eagle interrupted my solitude. She must have had a nest close by and was upset with my presence. She circled overhead screeching and followed me until I departed from the area.
After five minutes of excitement this beautiful bird of pray disappeared behind the mountain. She became visible again soaring below in the distant canyons. But she eventually disappeared and left me with the memory of being within 20 feet of this magnificent bird.
If you would like to fish for Golden Trout, plan on extending you hike a few more days and hike offer the saddle to Frog, Coyote and Margaret Lakes. Each of these mountain lakes is accessible by trail and easy to follow.
This is a great weekend adventure near Northern California’s Mono Hot Springs Resort. After hiking and visiting this spectacular pristine alpine back country the rejuvenating hot natural mineral springs and restaurant at Mono Hot Springs Resort at this outpost of civilization as remote as you can get by car in the high Sierras will renew your muscles and satisfy your hearty wilderness appetite!
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