Ralston Peak Hike - Fall Colors

Ralston Peak - Fall hike
Twin Bridges, CA
El Dorado National Forest - Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead Elevation 6550 - Peak 9,239

Straight from an episode of Cat in the Hat, 

"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. 

All that cold, cold, wet day..."

It's been raining for a few days. And although we all know we need it, it makes scheduling adventures difficult. Neither of us are big fans of the winter weather. Snowshoeing has eased the pain of winter a bit, so there is certainly adventures to be had, but the constant rain can make for some cabin fever to set in real quick. 

After watching the weather very closely all week, we saw an opportunity to get out for a quick day hike up Ralston Peak. 

I had been up there just a few months ago during the heat of the summer, but Chris had not been on top of this mountain and with no snow yet and fall colors in play, it seemed like a perfect day to Get Gone up there! 

Weather.com forecast
The weather was about to change again and a heavy snowstorm was set for Sunday, 
but so far Saturday was looking perfect!

The mountain forecast showed the forecast a little different at the peak with the temps dropping into the 30's with 35+ winds. They had that one pretty right on. It was chilly and windy up there!

Fall colors were showing their full beauty on the way up Highway 50. We stopped for a quick picture along the American River. Simply beautiful. 

Just a couple of miles from twin bridges is the parking lot for the Mt. Ralston Trail on the North side of the highway. You can park here and hike up the narrow road or drive up to the trailhead. If you can park at the trailhead it will save you a little bit of walking, but there is really only room for about 3 cars. So if you're late, well, your hike begins here...

Coordinates to the trailhead

Trailhead marker. Normally there is a permit box here since you'll be entering Desolation Wilderness, but the box was missing today. 

And off we go! The trail for the first couple of miles is mostly shaded and very well maintained. The trees provide a great windbreak as well. 

The ferns are about have all turned a beautiful bright orange. 

Crossing into Desolation Wilderness, you'll see this sign... :-) 

There are areas of the trail that are pretty rocky, but they are well placed and easy to use as stairs. 

More of the trail after about 2 miles. 

Starting to see some incredible views. The pretty blue sky and puffy clouds is a welcome sight after several days of nonstop rain this week. 


Brilliant green moss on the trees. 

Trees are starting to thin and there are a few expansive fields in view. 

Looking North West. Pyramid peak is covered by the clouds. 

Tiny cairns lead the way. The trail is about to go up, way, way up! 
Let the thigh burning commence!

Can you see the trail? 
It looks hidden, but we were able to follow it just fine. At least on the way up the mountain...

Heading straight up towards the peak.

The trail is very narrow, but still easy to follow.

As we approach the peak, the talus field comes into view. Oh joy! These rocks are my nemesis, but the Ralston Peak talus are small and nothing like those on Pyramid Peak.

I'm smiling, but I'm freezing!
I had to put every layer on as the wind is really picking up. 
Missing the trees right about now...

We were both having trouble keeps our hats on, but the peak is in view!

I am seriously struggling to stay upright. The wind is about to blow me completely over. It was also making my eyes water so bad I couldn't see where I was stepping. Crazy! But we were able to hang on and get up to the top.

We made it! We are smiling, but freezing. Won't be here long. A quick couple of pics and heading back down to the safety of the trees...

Chris signed the Peak log and then couldn't feel his fingers. It's a little chilly. We forgot to bring our new GGG stickers to adorn the box. Will have to make another trip up here to bring stickers and a new cache box too. The log was a bit soggy...

The peak is a bit lack luster, but the views are pretty amazing. 
On a warm day, it's a great place to enjoy a quick lunch. Always seems to be windy up here no matter the season. 

The view to the East

View to the North

Lake Tahoe

The way down was super fast. It was getting colder and so much windier! And then after about half a mile, the trail just up and disappeared! I guess the mountain knew how much we enjoy bushwhacking because we spent the next mile trying to find the trail again! 
At least we knew we were headed in the right direction... DOWN! 

We also knew this creek was to the East of us as we climbed, so we had to cross it on the way down to get closer to the trail. 

This is on the trailhead marker. Shows a few places that are accessible from this trailhead. 

Our tracks via Strava. The keyhole in the middle is where we were "exploring". 

Our elevation gain. Yep, we climbed a mountain!

It was a great day to Get Gone and much needed! Glad we were able to get out there even if the visit at the peak was very short lived. Looking forward to snowshoeing this mountain in the winter.