I made no specific plans for the day after my Cloudripper climb since I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I woke up early with no lingering aches and pains, but I didn’t feel up to a complicated mental (i.e. route finding) challenge. I decided to choose an easy peak on the SPS list – San Joaquin.
San Joaquin is the high point of a ridge that runs between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, far above the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin river far below. To the west, the Ritter Range dominates the view for the entire hike, and once towards the summit one can even see some of the famous lakes along the John Muir Trail such as Thousand Island Lake.
The hike follows 4×4 road from Minaret Summit to just above Deadman Pass. From there, it turns into single track trail which follows the ridgeline all the way to the summit of San Joaquin. There is no complicated route finding, and the views are spectacular.
Looking for a map and details? Get them here.
I started from Minaret Vista, parking my car among the tourists admiring the view. The first two and a half miles follow a dirt road, and many vehicles can make this drive. I came up here about 6 years ago in a 4×4 truck but couldn’t remember much about the road quality so I decided not to risk it with my Outback. As I walked the road, I was fairly certain I could have driven it. Oh well, I like to walk.
After 2.5 mile the road ends and single track hiking trail begins. Unfortunately, an immediate steep drop nullifies 250 ft of climbing you’ve already done (and you’ll have to do on the return hike), but from here on out the trail wiggles along the ridge with some steep ups separated by gentle easy walking.
About half a mile before San Joaquin’s summit you pass between the high points of Two Teats. Bag one or both for a bonus peak!
From the summit, there are sweeping views of the Ritter Range and John Muir Trail to the west. It was windy on the summit, but I spent some time taking in the view and enjoying the memories of hiking through there when I did the John Muir Trail.
The return hike follows the same trail back to Minaret Vista. One could also continue along the ridge all the way to June Lake for a shuttle hike. I’d love to try that one some day!
My GPS track said I hiked a little over 12 miles with a little under 4000 ft of gain on this hike. The terrain was easy enough that it didn’t feel that far, and I finished the day earlier than expected. Early enough to take a swim in June Lake and visit June Lake Brewery before meeting up with Sooz and Pavla at camp that night!