North Maggie Mountain
By: Matthias Selke
North Maggie Mtn. is usually climbed together with Moses Mtn from the Tule River Valley, i.e. from the west. Most climbers do not seem to be particularly fond of the 3,000 ft. climb of N. Maggie from the Tule River its been described as a rather nasty bushwhack. Having dayhiked Moses Mtn. several years ago, and being curious about the east side of N. Maggie Mtn., I decided to climb N. Maggie from the east. The Maggie Lakes due east o the peak look nice on the topo map, and, as it turned out, they are even prettier in reality. Studying the topo maps of the area revealed that the easiest approach to reach the Maggie Lakes is via the Summit Trail from the vicinity of Quaking Aspen. To reach the trailhead, one turns onto the paved spui road that leads north from Quaking Aspen. (Quaking Aspen is reached on Highway 190 from Porterville.) The spur road is paved at first, and late becomes a decent dirt road no problem for any 2wheel passenger car. The Summit Trail Trailhead is reached after driving approximately 9 miles from Highway 190. (There are signs most of the way directing you to the correct trailbead. To avoid the many other trailbeads and spur roads branching off along the way, its best to bring a topo map.) The 9mile hike to Maggie Lakes from this remote trailhead is very pleasant the trail is in good shape, and passes many meadows, and streams. After abou 2.5 miles, upon reaching the crest of the ridge separating the Tule River Valley to the west from the Little Kern River Valley to the east, there are some wonderful views of the Southern Terminus of the Great Western Divide. The trail continues near the crest, passing, among others, Jacobsen Meadow, Mowery Meadow, and Alpine Meadow. There is little elevation gain or loss, and the walking is very pleasant. After about 8 miles, one reaches a saddle on a ridge that extends east from Maggie Mtn.; a short steep decent follows (400 ft loss), whereupon one reaches a junction. After turning left onto the Maggie Lakes Trail, one quickly climbs up the last mile to the two Maggie Lakes. Both Lakes have ample campsites; the upper lake is a bit larger. Even though I passed the Lakes during the July 411 weekend, there was only one party at the lower lake, and nobody at the upper lake. The actual summit of North Maggie cannot be seen from the upper Lake; it is east-northeast of the lake. (The ridge that can be seen due east of the lake is the long ridge connecting North Maggie Mtn. with Maggie Mtn.) After a bit of easy hiking northeastward through the open forest (no brush), the peak can be seen; it is best to reach the summit ridge at the first small saddle south of the summit. The ascent is class 1-2, and virtually brush-free. Its only about a mile from the Lake, with about 1,000 ft gain. This is a very enjoyable hike that explores an area one would not visit if one followed the "established" route up the peak. Climbers who "need" Moses Mtn. could drive on to Balch Park after doing N. Maggie, and do Moses as a dayhike as well. Despite the length (20 miles), this hike can be done in a day, as there is only about 4,000 ft total gain, and almost all of the hike is on a good trail. This would also be a nice backpack, with many good campsites at the Maggie Lakes. My own round-trip stats: Solo hike, I I hours, including I hour break on the summit, and another 45 min break at the upper lake.
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