Mt Morgan and Morgan Pass

Notes by piero scaruffi | Travel resources | Other California destinations | Other California trails
Pictures of the hikes

Mt Morgan

Mt Morgan (4190m) is usually climbed from the Tamarack Lakes trailhead at Rock Creek Lake just before Mosquito Flat (3,148m). Turn left into the road that leads to the campground. It circles the lake a bit and then there is a parking lot for hikers. As of 2010 you cannot leave the car overnight and there are no bear lockers. Go back to the main road and drive 2 more minutes uphill: there's a parking lot on the right handside and bear lockers on the left handside.
Back to the trailhead, the sign is not clearly visible but it's just across the street from the hiker's parking lot in between two campsites. There is a water fountain right at the trailhead. The trail forks almost immediately. Follow the sign for Dorothy Lake and then the sign for Kenneth Lake. You should then reach the fork for Francis Lake. Turn right towards this lake and coast the lake to the right. Ascend the ridge to the right (the ridge to the left leads to a very difficult mountain). Keep following the ridge staying a bit lower. Eventually you enter the glacier. Past the glacier, the ridge bends left and the real summit emerges clearly. Now it's just a steep scramble to the top.

There are two alternative ways to descend (not recommend for ascending). If you walk down just 20 meters from the summit, you should notice a narrow westward chute that connects with a bigger northwestern chute. That chute leads to the lakes between Morgan Pass and Mosquito Flat. There is a trail on the other side of the lakes. Once at Mosquito Flat you can walk along the paved road back to Rock Creek Lake or take a hiker's trail.

A second (fun) way to descend to Rock Creek Lake is to return the same way via the ridge but, instead of plunging down to Francis Lake, continue in a straight line losing little or no elevation, coasting the ridge that separates Francis Lake from Rock Creek Lake. This becomes very sandy. First you should enter a large "square" with only one tree in the middle. Then a boulevard of pines. Then another large square dotted with dead trees. Beyond this point you start losing altitude and soon you are faced with a scary drop to the east. Luckily the terrain is still sandy. It is relatively easy and safe to slide down the sandy slope towards the trail down at the bottom, despite the dizzying grade. You can use the pine trees to stop yourself if you fall. If you find a dry creekbed not far from the ridge, that will take you straight to the trail near the sign "No fires above 10000 feet". See my pictures for details.

  • Rock Creek Lake (2955m)
  • Fork to Dorothy Lake (0.5km)
  • Fork to Kenneth Lake (1.5 km)
  • Fork to Francis Lake (3km)
  • Francis Lake (3334m, 4km) 1h 15'
  • Glacier 3h
  • Saddle on the ridge 4h
  • Mt Morgan (4190m, 8km) 5h 30'

Morgan Pass

A north-to-south trail leads from Mosquito Flat (3,148m) to Pine Creek (2,401) via Morgan Pass (3,400m, 24 km).

Take the exit for Rovana off 395 north of Bishop and go west. Turn right into Pine Creek Rd and proceed to the end, past the Pine Creek trailhead. The Morgan Pass trailhead is located at the tungsten mine (again, NOT the Pine Creek trailhead). Apparently the road is now closed and you have to jump a gate in order to start your hike. After the gate, the switchback road eventually turns into a very steep trail. It is 8 kms from the gate to Morgan Pass. The elevation gain is significant (1,000 meters).

If you want to be sure that you are not breaking the law on this trail, check with the Bishop ranger station (760-873-2500) but good luck finding a ranger who actually knows anything about the trails that s/he is supposed to patrol (they are mostly interested in issuing permits).