There are two maps to choose from. The description following the links to the maps below only apply to the first map. The “alternative” map is for those who wish to go the longer route (11 miles total one way) due to road closures, snow, or simply to do something different.
Download the map HERE
Download the “alternative” map HERE
The shortest route is starting at the Summit Trailhead (8,265 feet) at the end of Forest Service road 21S50 or “north road.” There is a small parking area and a place to temporarily tie up horses. The trail heads west and meets up with the wilderness sign at approximately 0.1 miles. Within about 15 minutes of going downhill the trail crosses South Mountaineer. A great place to fill up on water if you haven’t already as it is 1 of the 2 dependable water sources. At this point the trail climbs uphill and up to a great vista point. The climb is considered 1 of the 3 “uphill pulls” the trail makes.
The vista point, approximately 2.1 miles in, is unofficially known as the Alder Creek Vista point. The trail is located at the top of the Alder Creek drainage, which flows west into the Tule River. Great views of the San Joaquin Valley and the towering peaks of Coyote Ridge and Western Divide can been seen. The trail descends down to Jacobsen Meadow and then proceeds on a short uphill to Mowery Meadow, approximately 4.6 miles from the trailhead.
Mowery Meadow is a good “half way there” marker. If water is needed, head down into the meadow a ways to find enough to filter. If water cannot be found you’ll need to follow the Mountaineer Trail east a bit to find water. Otherwise wait until the trail gets into the Peck Canyon watershed approximately 3 miles ahead.
Once leaving Mowery Meadow, the trail begins to climb uphill. This is considered the the second uphill pull. The climb initially is steep, but does decrease in grade after about 10 minutes of hiking. The trail climbs by Alpine Meadow, Neva Point junction, upper portions of the Alpine Creek watershed. There is another unnamed meadow the trail follows along for a bit. Once passed the meadow, the trail makes a final uphill climb to a crest. This ends the second pull and the trail descends down into Griswold Meadow.
Griswold Meadow has a dispersed camping area and a small creek near the trail. The creek sometimes has water flowing. It is recommended you do not depend on it for a water source, especially in late summer or fall. The trail continues to trek downhill giving users a break from the uphill climbing along views of the old Maggie Fire in 2006. Once pass a couple riparian areas, the trail begins to climb uphill.
The uphill climb to the unofficial vista, named Pecks Canyon Vista point, is the third and final uphill pull. The trail has been re-routed a few times due to the Maggie Fire and down trees. The uphill climb will seem short, as there is a small section of the trail that goes downhill and level for a short distance. Crossing through another riparian/meadow area the trail climbs uphill once more.
At approximately 7.5 miles into the hike, the trail provides a great overlook of Pecks Canyon. The Pecks Canyon Vista point is approximately 300 feet down the trail from the top of the ridge (end of the third uphill climb). The trail travels through rocky terrain, so watch your footing. Approximately 0.5 miles downhill the trail will arrive at an unnamed creek or “Pecks Creek.” Here is the second source of water along the trail that flows all year long.
After refilling up water bottles and crossing the creek, a trail junction is encountered. Keep going west towards Maggie Lakes as the trail north goes to private property. The trail may fade slightly in areas, but look for stacked rocks or past use, i.e. foot prints, to find the trail. Hiking for another mile and you will arrive at the lower Maggie Lake. Dispersed camping is found throughout the area. If you are wanting to visit the other lakes, you will need to cross country to them. The middle lake, which is literally just on the other side of the lower lake takes about 5 minutes. The upper lake will take about 10 to 15 minutes. An easy way is to simply follow the stream on the west side of the lower lake uphill. The stream is actually the outlet from the upper lake.