Raymond Peak from the West

9 Oct 1999 - by Beren Erchamion


Those who want a "white wilderness" experience on Raymond can simply load the minimum waypoints at the end of this description into their GPS and "go for it." You should be able to find a Class 2 or 3 route up to the top without too much meandering. For those who'd like a bit more help, I've identified two separate routes to the summit. Either route can be followed using the more extensive list of waypoints at the end of this message


The Mokelumne Wilderness is one of my wife's (Luthien) favorite places to visit. Geographically, it straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada between Highways 4 and 88. More than just a location, though, it's at the junction of the Northern Sierra, Southern Sierra, and Eastern Sierra botanic provinces. That makes for pleasant hiking through a diverse range of plant communities, which change with elevation, exposure, and soil type. For example, plants in the valleys grow amid slabs of granite, while the peaks and ridges are composed of dark volcanic rock. Perhaps these dark rocks, with their sinister appearance, keep the number of visitors down. I've seen few hikers there compared to nearby areas with carved granite peaks, such as the Desolation Wilderness.

It was my usual spur-of-the-moment decision last August to plan another visit to this wilderness area. The plan developed into a moderately strenuous dayhike up to the summit of the 10,011' Raymond Peak. From Sacramento, the closest trailhead is by way of Blue Lakes Road off Highway 88, a few miles east of Carson Pass. I originally planned to start our hike from Wet Meadows Reservoir, "road's end" per my map and the road signs. However, the road continued east, toward the peak, as did we, another half mile to a small undeveloped campsite on a small creek coming down from the saddle ahead.

Once out of the truck, we wandered around the creek a bit before finding a spur trail leading east toward the saddle. It joined the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), to our surprise, a few minutes later at a wilderness sign-in kiosk. After obtaining the self- service permit, we continued a similarly short distance on the PCT up to the saddle. Then, we turned south on a use trail up a gentle ridge before contouring around into the pines. We passed a couple small, but nice campsites, with Pleasant Valley Creek as our left handrail. Eventually we lost the trail while climbing some volcanic rock, taking in the view of a water cascade on the left.

Up the ridge on our right was a large natural arch set in a volcanic pinnacle. With our backs to the arch, we crossed the creek and climbed up to a string of volcanic outcrops. Luthien went around to the right while I went left, which put me on the high side of a cliff with Luthien 30' below. Luckily, she was able to scurry up a chimney without too much exposure. We then continued to the left just below more outcrops until my GPS put us just short of the summit. Our luck held as, looking up, a Class 2 route was evident. About three hours after leaving the trailhead, we were having lunch atop Raymond Peak.

Below the opposite side of the ridge, an alpine lake set off its surroundings with deep blue. Water is like a magnet to Luthien, so it was easy to rationalize trying a different route out, especially since I figured the PCT must be down there somewhere. So, we changed plans and dropped quickly down an avalanche chute to the lake. There we met a couple fishermen, the only people we saw on this hike. We had better luck than they, since they hadn't seen a fish and we learned of an easy route out to the PCT via a Raymond Lake Trail. After a quick dip in the lake to keep Luthien happy, we found the trail and followed it to the PCT. However, the PCT wound around several water courses, so it was almost four hours before we were back at the truck and on our way home.


Raymond Lake

White Wilderness Coordinates

2-wheel drive trailhead: N38 36.16720 W119 52.65719
4-wheel drive trailhead: N38 36.62328 W119 51.60309
(2nd reading)            N38 36.65161 W119 51.59761
Location of objective:   N38 36.19585 W119 50.04011

Driving Information

From Highway 88 a few miles east of Carson Pass, travel south on Blue Lakes Road about 9 miles (half of which is dirt road) to a left turn away from Blue Lakes, where you can follow the signs another 4 or 5 miles to Wet Meadows Trailhead.

0RGHT  N38 41.94693 W119 57.98116
1LEFT  N38 37.17786 W119 54.64600
2STGT  N38 36.81254 W119 54.47284
3LEFT  N38 35.96990 W119 53.27099
4RGHT  N38 36.22288 W119 52.62404
4-4X4  N38 36.16720 W119 52.65719
5RGHT  N38 36.32202 W119 51.83998
6PARK  N38 36.65161 W119 51.59761

Directions for the Navigationally-Challenged

PCT/Raymond Lake Route - Follow the Wet Meadows trail a couple hundred yards to meet the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then continue east on the PCT to a junction with the Raymond Lake Trail. Follow the Raymond Lake Trail to Raymond Lake, then climb an avalanche chute on the east side of Raymond Peak to a point just south of the summit, from which it's an easy walk to the top (coordinates are in degrees-minutes).

6PARK  N38 36.65161 W119 51.59761
LK-CMP N38 36.14274 W119 52.00284
PCT1   N38 36.70568 W119 51.48593
T-CMP3 N38 36.99504 W119 51.13896
PVAL-T N38 37.27442 W119 50.97094
PCT2   N38 37.23708 W119 50.72150
PCT3   N38 36.65966 W119 50.04333
PCT4   N38 36.54990 W119 50.02530
PCT5   N38 36.35388 W119 49.98024
PCT6   N38 36.35195 W119 49.98475
PCT7   N38 36.27728 W119 50.03206
RMD-PK N38 36.19585 W119 50.04011

Ridge Route - Follow the Wet Meadows spur trail east a couple hundred yards to meet the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then continue east on the PCT a few hundred yards to the top of a saddle. Turn right (south) on a lightly used use trail to follow the ridge, continue on the left side of the ridge and right side of the creek. Cross Pleasant Valley Creek in the meadows below the saddle to the south and then contour slowly uphill below the ridge until southwest of Raymond, where upon it's a simple class 2 uphill jaunt to the top. (coordinates are in degrees-minutes)

6PARK  N38 36.65161 W119 51.59761
T-CMP1 N38 36.30142 W119 51.79588
M02    N38 36.28275 W119 50.82804
002    N38 36.17300 W119 50.68448
T-CMP2 N38 35.99179 W119 50.63620
003    N38 35.99758 W119 50.64779
004    N38 35.97280 W119 50.43858
005    N38 36.05004 W119 50.15662
006    N38 36.20068 W119 50.08935
RMD-PK N38 36.19585 W119 50.04011

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