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Old 05-27-2020, 09:17 PM #1
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Big Pine to Coyote Flats 4x4 Trail

On the “What Did You Do in Your 5th Gen Today?” topic, some discussion of the feasibility of the Big Pine to Coyote Flats 4x4 trail came up. Instead of hijacking the thread, I am creating this thread with photos here to link. The trail runs between Big Pine, California and Sanger Meadow, adjacent to the popular Coyote Flat area southwest of nearby Bishop and west of Big Pine.



The worst part of the trail and one that will likely stop all in a 4Runner, except those with modified and considerably narrower early generations. This is the upper part of the 1,800 foot long shelf trail, which drops down into the Onion Creek drainage, and which progressively gets worse as one progresses westward toward Sanger Meadow.



As one drops closer to Onion Creek, boulders start to be encountered. The trail narrows due to boulders and mountain mahogany and the slope the trail crosses steepens.



A view westward. Onion Creek is within the willows and aspens in the background; the trail also improves a bit down there. But it then begins to climb steeply and there is generally a lot of ground water making for muddy conditions.



Bikes and quads will have no problems in the worst of this short section.



The bad section on the trail can be done, as shown. The owner of this highly modified XJ series Jeep Cherokee proved it. He sent this photo to me to use on my old website, which had a page on the trail.



Before reaching Onion Creek, the slope becomes the steepest. In a vehicle this large, there is no room for error. Indeed, there was a vehicle stuck on the trail here for several years back in the 1990s. And I heard other horror stories of those who miscalculated the capabilities of themselves and their vehicles and their serious recovery efforts.



Getting to Onion Creek, the route is easier, but also can be muddy. It also gets pretty steep as it climbs the last hurdle to top out on the summit between Sugarloaf and Round Mountain Ridge. The view is south to Palisade Glacier, the southernmost glacier in the US.





Even if you don’t make it all the way, the views are still incredible. These views are along the Sierra front and down along the Owens Valley.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:02 AM #2
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Thank you very much for sharing!
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Old 05-31-2020, 10:26 PM #3
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More images.



Along the trail below what the the Roger Mitchell Eastern Sierra SUV guide calls “Glacier View.”



Looking back down into the Owens Valley, the southern end of the small town of Big Pine seen at the left edge of the photo. Unless the snow line is near the valley floor, one can often climb high enough to get some nice views in winter months. Generally, though, late spring to mid autumn months allow most of the trail to be run, as well as the high country around upper Baker Creek, Sanger Meadows and Coyote Flat.



A view into Owens Valley from higher up closer to Glacier View.



Though not yet Glacier View, it is for the majority of stock rigs. This photo was taken two years after the 2002 Piper Fire, but by now the landscape should have healed somewhat. The Palisade group of glaciers are the southernmost glaciers in the US.



The view southeasterly into and along the Owens Valley from the alternate Glacier View.



I demonstrate why most stock rigs should call it good here at the alternate Glacier View. My Tacoma was a TRD model with rear locker, but I didn’t have rock sliders and never took my truck beyond this point from the Big Pine side of the trail. At the time this shot was taken, however, I could see that ATVs and early side by sides were making early attempts to create a work around; which by now might have been used enough to allow passage for trucks and SUVs.



Glacier View, as described in Roger Mitchell’s guide.



Above Sanger Meadow.
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Old 06-01-2020, 02:42 AM #4
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Any idea of what these might be? They're marked on my map (California Trail Maps) but I don't have a legend to refer to. One is close to Sugarloaf.

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Old 06-01-2020, 07:53 PM #5
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Yes, that is the westernmost portion of the trail. Your lower circle is what I refer to as the southern viewpoint of the Owens Valley. At the “10247” mark, the trail turns west and drops into Sanger Meadow, which is where the trail ends in a wye. Below the wye is the road along southern Sanger Meadow. Where it makes a 90 degree turn west, the road goes up and ends in some meadows along Baker Creek. I’m not sure what the upper circle is. The image of my Tacoma atop the mountain with Sanger Meadow and the Sierra beyond is at what I call the northern viewpoint, but it’s not that far north. There is a road north from where the trail turns down into Sanger, but I’ve never taken it. On the map it is shown to meander around in the country just below Round Mountain ridge, then turns west into Coyote Flat.
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Old 06-01-2020, 07:59 PM #6
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Part 1 (word limit on posts):

For the benefit of those who enjoy exploring the Eastern Sierra region of California, presented below is the text of the webpage I had on my former website (1999-2013). This page was popular and was kept online until about 2018 by my former host, who allowed me to share his servers with his once popular forum, which now is no longer online.

This page has a detailed description of the 4x4 route up the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Range between Big Pine and Sanger Meadow. Sanger Meadow is part of the greater Coyote Flat region west of Big Pine, and southwest of Bishop, California; the entire region very popular with explorers and campers in the alpine heights and cool forests.

At the time of writing and all but the last update, I was living in Big Pine and regularly explored along the trail between my home and Glacier View; as well as in the Coyote Flats and Sanger Meadows region.

In this page, the trail was broken up into sections; at the end of each section was a dozen or more photos showing the scenery and challenging sections. The photos were taken during all kinds of weather and seasons of the year and spanned over several years. Instead of the tedious and time consuming task of uploading and placing well over 100 images here, I have chosen but a small sample of the many dozens of photos, displayed in the above posts.

In the first section and in 2008, I added some last minute updates due to serious erosion on the lower portion of the trail at that time. I moved away from Big Pine to north central Nevada shortly after I updated the page and have not attempted the trail since then. Thus, I have no clue as to its current condition.

——————————————-

RECONNOITERING IN THE EASTERN SIERRA NEVADA & GREAT BASIN
BY 4-WHEEL-DRIVE
Hosted and Powered by 4WDTrips.net

HOME PAGE

4x4 Trails: Big Pine to Sanger Meadow via Glacier View
------------------------------

Trail Difficulty:
Difficult to Extreme

Season:
Late spring to middle autumn

Elevations:
4,000 feet at Big Pine; 9,507 feet at Glacier View; 10,291 feet atop saddle at eastern side of Sugarloaf; approximately 10,750 feet at the northern viewpoint; 9,875 at Sanger Meadow.

Cell phone Signal:
Good in Big Pine and along the trail up to Glacier View, weak to none at Sanger Meadow and along lower reaches of trail just above Warren Bench.

Running Surface Water?:
None immediately adjacent to the trail during summer except at Onion Creek. There is a guzzler trough near Glacier View, which taps a nearby spring.

Distance to Civilization:
Big Pine is the starting point and nearest civilization. It is 13.3 miles to Big Pine from Sanger Meadow. From Sanger Meadow end of the trail, it is a bit more than 20 miles to downtown Bishop.

Trail Travel Density:
Low.

Nearest Supplies/Emergency Aid:
If an emergency occurred and you are near the Sanger Meadow end of the trail, it will likely be more expedient to drive north through Coyote Flat along far better and faster roads to Bishop, as that town has the nearest hospital. Big Pine does, however, have an ambulance at the fire station and EMT's.

-----------------------------

Note July 8, 2007: A large wildfire, started by lightning Friday, July 6th, has burned a substantial portion of the lower portions of the trail. Lightning struck in Big Pine Canyon, about three miles below Glacier Lodge, about 3:00 PM July 6th. By afternoon, the fire had burned up and down the northern walls of the canyon; also flames topped and crossed the ridge and off to parts north. The canyon homes, Glacier Lodge and campgrounds were evacuated shortly after 4:00 PM.

Saturday, July 7th, was tense as the wildfire hit the valley floor and also crossed northward a considerable distance. Western portions of the town of Big Pine were threatened and the community was on evacuation watch. The fire spread into Baker Creek canyon by early afternoon, then flames disgorged out of the canyon's mouth and down the alluvial slopes toward Big Pine. The fire also appeared to have burned through Warren Bench and on both sides later in the afternoon. The access areas of Sugarloaf and Arc roads were also in the midst of the fire. The lower hydroelectric plant on Big Pine Creek and Bernasconi School were surrounded and threatened by flames, and only by vigilant efforts of firefighters placed at both places were they spared. Baker Creek Campground, a half mile west of Big Pine, was also evacuated by afternoon, as flames came to the back end of the campground. Flames came to within a half mile of my home, possibly closer.

By Sunday, July 8, the fire was pretty much contained and burned in pockets and hot spots for a few more days before entirely out.

The primary areas of this trail affected are lowest sections of the trail: Warren Bench, Boulder Patch and the lower Baker Creek area. Winter precipitation will likely cause accelerated erosion to some steep portions of the trail, but the primary impact will be for the most part visual.

Note June 21, 2008: Nearly a year after the fire, I took a quick drive into the lower Baker Creek and Warren Bench area. The land is starting to heal and vegetation has covered the landscape, softening the effects of the fire. Instead of drab, the land had a golden hue to it. Burned locust trees are sprouting and bushy at the base of their trunks – even though their trunks and remaining limbs are black and bare.

As of this writing, the road to the Forest Service fence has been bladed in the past days. Instead of stopping at the charred stumps of the boundary fence, some agency (Forest Service or Inyo County?) continued ahead. Due to the rocky nature of the road, fill dirt was brought in and the byway smoothed. I followed the road as far as the turnoff to the trail up to the Boulder Patch, the road still smooth with fresh grader tire tracks continued on up Baker Creek.

Where the trail climbs out of Warren Bench, however, the pathway is badly eroded to the point of being impassable by the vast majority of 4WD vehicles. Twin channels 2.5 feet and deeper have been washed out, leaving a thin strip of rocky dirt sticking up in the middle. I'd even hesitate to attempt riding it on a motorcycle. I can only speculate that a highly lifted vehicle with large MT type tires, straddling the outboard berm and beyond, will be able to pass by without getting hung up if a wheel or two goes into the deep troughs.

This leaves the route up through Boulder Patch (Rock Garden) or the first road leaving Warren Bench as the alternative routes. I've to date never have driven the southern road leaving Warren Bench. The Boulder Patch road was pretty rough on the drop to Baker Creek in the past and I would imagine that the elements hasn't been kind to the road since the fire. I started to attempt this road today, but with the sun directly in my eyes, I aborted my attempt for safety and to eliminate the chance of getting stuck.

Signs are now placed within the fire zone asking that we stay on the roadways to help the land heal. Please respect them. A bypass of the above mentioned washed out section has begun, but it's steep, whooped, very soft and sandy, and is very rocky and with a sharp drop over the original road berm. And most of all, it's not staying on established roadways and will lead to further erosion.

-----------------------------

The Coyote Flats-Sanger Meadow region of the Eastern Sierra Nevada is a terrifically scenic, fascinating and fun filled region, tucked away between the canyon of the South Fork of Bishop Creek and the Owens Valley. High, alpine and full of interesting and picturesque trails, these two high flats and their attendant peaks and canyons are fairly popular with locals yet little known to those living outside the Eastern Sierra region.

Due to high elevation, the Big Pine to Sanger Meadows trail is only open in its entirety during late spring, summer and early autumn; although portions of it along the eastern side can be enjoyable anywhere the snow isn't deep enough to prohibit off roading.

The easiest and best known route to get to the Coyote Flats area is via Bishop. However, for those with quads, and dirt bikes; or those traveling in a group of two or more 4x4 vehicles – those with high clearance or lifted, having at least a rear manual locking differential and a winch – a seldom used route via Big Pine is a far more challenging and fun route.

For those with a stock, truck based 4x4 with low range and good ground clearance, this trail can be taken to a point called Glacier View.

A chapter on this route can be found in Roger Mitchell’s book “High Sierra SUV Trails: Volume 1 The East Side,” pages 169-174. Mitchell's book covers the route only between Big Pine and Glacier View.

Mitchell rates this route as being relatively easy. However, I recommend that your vehicle be high enough (having a minimum of an optional, factory off-road package or a 3” or higher lift kit), that your rig is equipped with engine, transmission and transfer case skid plates, and decent trail tires. Many modern SUVs and many basic ½-ton 4x4 pickups – often with bolted on rail or molded plastic steps – lower ground clearance and lack of underside armor, will likely be taking a risk of getting hung up on their frames, or risking body or drivetrain damage.

For years I've been told that this route is closed due to the section dropping down between Glacier View and Onion Creek and was impassable by any 4-wheeled vehicle except quads. Later, I walked the section and speculated that small 4WD vehicles can get through with much effort. Since then I've seen photos on the web showing off road club groups traversing the trail.

On this page, I will break the trail down into several sections, ending each section with numerous thumbnail photos. Click on any photo on this page and another window with a much larger photo will open.

It is 13.3 miles from Big Pine to Sanger Meadow via the “primary” starting route, the distance to Glacier View is about 10.2 miles.

There are three ways to start the trail from Big Pine. A “primary” start to this trail is found at Crocker Street and US395 in downtown Big Pine. An optional start to the trail can be reached via County Road at the north end of town. And as a fun alternative to start the trail, the “Rock Garden” offers scenic and challenging diversion or can be taken by itself when snow blocks the upper portions of the trail.

-------------------------------

Route Start – Primary: Route approximately 4.5 miles long. This route starts at the corner of Crocker Street and US395 in the center of Big Pine. The corner is currently occupied by Union 76 and Mobile gasoline stations and their attendant mini-marts. The route is signed for the Big Pine Creek recreational area.

Turn west on Crocker and travel 1.6 miles to Sugarloaf Road. The road is signed although a bit hard to see until you are right on it, but there is a sizable sign indicating that the Bernasconi School is found on this road. Turn onto Sugarloaf Road and travel 0.6 mile to the maintained dirt Arc Road (signed). Near the junction of Arc Road and Sugarloaf is a large, level borrow pit, and this makes a good location to park your truck/trailer if you hauled in your bike or quad. If you are driving a 4WD, this is a good place to air down your tires, as washboards, bedrock, and soft gravel lay ahead.

Drive up Arc Road 0.9 mile, crossing Baker Creek (it runs under the road through a culvert pipe), and in about 300 more feet you will pass through an opening in the Forest Service boundary fence. The road immediately deteriorates into a rough, rocky two track, but poses no problems. In 0.2 tenths of a mile, a road comes in from the right (north). Turn here if you wish to continue along the trail to Glacier View. If you wish to take the “Rock Garden” route to Glacier View or run the Rock Garden route by itself, click here.

Turning north will take you out onto open Warren Bench, a small, open ended valley. Ignore the trail coming down the mountain and joining this trail at 0.2 mile. This road does meet up with our byway higher up, but I’ve personally not traveled it and cannot report of its condition or difficulty. Continuing ahead, drivers of a stock SUV may wish to keep an eye out, as at 0.3 tenths of a mile since turning onto this trail, the route drops into a small gully that drains the valley, and is eroded enough and has some small bedrock projection. At a point 0.9 tenths of a mile since turning onto the current trail, turn onto a road that comes in from the left, which is visible climbing the mountain.

This junction is also where Route Start - Alternative Trail #1 comes in from the north.

-------------------------------

Route Start – Alternative Trail: Route approximately 5.7 miles long. This route is a good choice if you’re maximizing your 4x4 off road fun. This route has a couple of steep, sharp, rutted and soft switchbacks where a locking differential might come in handy. There are also three or four steep and rocky hillclimbs. I do not recommend using a stock SUV on this road.

To start, at the corner of Crocker Street and US395 in downtown Big Pine, travel north on US395 0.5 mile to the prominent junction of CA168, which heads east over the Inyo Range and into Nevada. The intersection is very visible from town with three tall flagpoles with giant flags and a campground on the left (east) side of the highway. However, at this intersection, turn left onto County Road.

Drive west on County Road to the four-way stop, a tick shy of one mile. Continue straight ahead through this shady and pleasant stretch of roadway with its forest of overhanging trees. The pavement will end at 1.3 miles, continue to a point nearly 2.5 miles since the four-way stop sign and turn left.

Take the trail angling across the face of the hillside and in 0.2 take the right fork (if you continue ahead, the road will dead end at a mine adit in about 570 feet). Continue along this pathway up onto the northern end of Warren Bench to meet up with the primary start route at 2.3 miles since turning off of County Road.

--------------------------------

Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow Trail, Part 1 – Warren Bench to top of off-camber climb: Section length about 3.7 miles. From Warren Bench, our byway will head toward the base of the hillside and at 0.2 mile begin to climb. The road has numerous whoops and loose rocks and climbs for 0.9 mile, then drops down into a small flat and then jog to the south.

In this flat a road that comes in on the left is the same one mentioned earlier in the primary start route description, accessed just after turning into Warren Bench.

Continue on the main trail, which makes a sharp turn north, then immediately back to west. In 0.2 mile, the route will start up a steep incline. This incline will climb 0.1 mile, then top out and level off.

At 0.3 mile, a route heads left (south). This road runs back down to Baker Creek through what I call the “Rock Garden,” and is a nice alternative route to this point or run by itself. The route is described below:

Route Alternative – Rock Garden: I recommend this 2.2 mile route only to high clearance, well equipped 4x4 vehicles and experienced drivers. There are a lot of bedrock protrusions, and with heavy erosion, loose rock and bedrock offer a fair amount of challenge. Due to the area being packed with boulders large and small, I'd not recommend driving an ultra-wide or long wheel base vehicle through here, such as a Hummer H1 or Ford Super Duty double cab-long bed.

It was in the Rock Garden that I put the first sizable dent on my Tacoma, on the passenger side rocker panel – the stone was high and large enough to damage the door, but fortunately the truck was tipped away from the rock enough that it only caught the rocker panel. The last time I drove through, the rock still proudly wears the white paint it swiped from my truck, several months after the fact . I’ve also torn off a front mudflap while trying to get off a large stone and in which the flap was caught between the front tire and rock.

This route can be an alternative run to those either going up or coming down; it can be enjoyed by itself when the Glacier View trail is blocked by snow. In wintertime, this route is normally open and free of deep snow.

To reach the Rock Garden take the primary route from Big Pine. Instead of turning north into Warren Bench at 3.4 miles after leaving US395, continue west 0.2 mile and turn right. The route will immediately begin a steep, eroded and snaking climb of about 0.35 mile. About 0.2 mile further ahead is a very sharp S-turn, so sharp that my Toyota Tacoma is strained to navigate without forcing a two-point turn. A couple of very tall bedrock projections snagged my skid plates the last time I came through here, the trail greatly eroded by heavy, late winter rains in 2005. In another 0.1 mile, you come to the “Rock Garden,” a congregation of large and small boulders and rock outcroppings. Here a large boulder projects out nearly over the trail, which turns off camber to allow vehicles to tip away from it. The route then climbs out of the Rock Garden in another tenth of a mile. In 0.4 mile, the route climbs and tops out 0.2 mile further on, then in 0.4 mile joins the main trail coming up from Warren Bench.

-----------------------------------

Continue Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow Trail: Continue west on main trail. In 0.7 mile, you will see a road turning right and climbing to the base of a large stone outcropping (this road is not shown on current topo maps). Ignore this route unless you like the challenge of a steep and loose hillclimb. Unless you are running large tires with very low pressure, your result will likely be digging in two thirds of the way up – I've learned this from several unsuccessful attempts. Simply continue on up the current trail another two-tenths of a mile and then turn right (if you continue ahead, the road will stop at an overlook a short distance beyond). This road will lateral up and meet the hillclimb road next to the stone outcropping.

For those with a weak stomach for off-camber roads will likely be rather nervous here, as the road is tilted about 25°-30° or so. There is no danger of rolling, unless your rig is lifted to the extreme and your center of gravity very high; and there is little danger of sliding off the trail due to the center hump and the downhill brush, although occasional steering corrections will be required because your rig will likely be slithering to the downhill side. In a little less than a thousand feet, you will top the hill and come to a small flat. End of Part 1.

-------------------------------------

Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow 4x4 Trail, Part 2 – Top of off-camber climb to Glacier View: Section length, about 2.5 miles. From the level at the top of the off camber climb, the road will continue westward, gradually increasing steepness. The road will soon come to a point at the head of a gulch with the trail disappearing from view and you likely wondering where the trail is going next, when at just shy of 0.4 tenths of a mile it will suddenly make a turn up the southern side of the gulch.

Though only about 150 feet long or so, the climb is eroded into a dipped, gravelly gradient, and if you haven't lowered the air pressure in your tires I'd recommend doing it now. The dips on each side of the trail are out of sequence with each other (where tires on one side are dropping into a dip while the tires on the other side of your rig are climbing out), and are deep enough that they might cause your wheels to lift, depending on your wheelbase and suspension travel. I've tried this hill several times with my tire pressure at street pressure without success. Lowering my tire pressure ten pounds worked wonders. Locking my rear locker with lowered air pressure has resulted in consistent success.

Above the hillclimb, the trail will continue to climb with various degrees of steepness and views in all directions will delight and get better with each curve and with each foot in altitude gained. From the top of the hillclimb, scattered Jeffrey pine trees begin to dot the landscape. For the next 1.9 miles the trail poses no major obstacles – it simply climbs in stair step-like fashion (short, steep climbs with a small flat on top) and is punctuated with liberal stones and bedrock protrusions.

At a point 1.8 miles from the top of the soft hillclimb, a small meadow is reached, which is often wet in springtime and has a guzzler with water piped in from a spring. You will notice that above this meadow that fire has in recent years visited here, leaving behind charred stumps and skeletons of the otherwise abundant mountain mahogany and occasional pine. In July 2002, the Piper Fire was ignited by lightning, the resulting wildfire burned this ridgeline and continued scorching and consuming for a couple of days. The fire was dwarfed later the same day by the far larger Fuller Fire, which consumed a much larger area south of Big Pine Creek and which burned for nearly a week; fire fighting resources were immediately diverted there and the Piper fire was left to burn itself out under supervision.

A fork in the trail at the guzzler runs a short distance north and east to allow a great view northeast down through the south fork of Shannon Canyon and across the Owens Valley to the White Mountains and beyond to the Palmetto Range in Nevada.

After running the short length of the meadow, the road climbs a few hundred feet to a summit of the ridge. At the summit is an obstacle that will thwart many stock SUVs and low slung pickups – an army of bedrock peaks in some cases as high as one's knees. The bedrock spires are pinned in between a rock outcropping and the large skeletons of charred mountain mahogany. Quads and trail bikes have started a bypass recently, but the path is narrow and has a very tight turn, too sharp for a larger vehicle to pass through. With time, though, industrious 4WD drivers may hack the route out a bit to allow larger vehicles a bypass.

If you can't go beyond, don't feel bad. The view here of the Palisade Glacier region in the Big Pine Creek drainage is pretty much the same as that at Glacier View, which is only a thousand feet beyond and only a little higher. The location here also has better views east and south than at further on at Glacier View. The charred pines and mountain mahogany may spoil the view in the opinion of the purists.

If you can make it beyond the bedrock, the road narrows considerably from this point on and has some loose rock. The route is also not well defined in places. At a point about 10.2 miles from Big Pine, Glacier View is reached. The view is climactic. The flames of the Piper Fire had missed this point and the area is dense with brush.

If you wish to continue on to Glacier View on foot from the bedrock obstacle, it's a short walk with one fairly steep hillclimb. End of Part 2.

------------------------------------

CONTINUED BELOW
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Part 2:

Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow 4x4 Trail, Part 3 – Glacier View to Onion Creek: Section length, about 1,800 feet. This section is not for stock vehicles! This section is for lifted, small to medium size 4x4s running full underside armor, larger wheels and tires, a winch and at least a rear locker. I'd also recommend your rig be equipped with rock sliders to aid in keeping your rig from hanging up on the big rocks and protecting the rocker panels. Carry extraction tools and devices and know how to use them.

I do not endorse running this section alone and have at least one other vehicle along. You'll need help spotting your way through and extra hands if something doesn't go right. The trail itself isn't particularly steep but the slope it traverses is; the trail is very narrow, soft gravels and with heavy brush and mountain mahogany impinging on the trail; punctuated by sizable boulders and bedrock. Getting off the trail will result in lengthy extraction efforts. Getting hung up on a rock without means to pull yourself off or be pulled off will mean your vehicle will be blocking the trail for an indeterminate period of time or damage to your vehicle.

I don't recommend full size vehicles in here, although recently a group with a late '91 Toyota Land Cruiser, a '96 Lexus LX450 (which is essentially a gussied up Toyota Land Cruiser) and a Jeep CJ-7 ran this route in August 2005 without trouble. All of the vehicles, including the Lexus, were lifted and equipped for off road use and their owners part of an off road club. While in this section, the leader of the group, in the Jeep, got off the trail only “a little,” which resulted in 1.5 hours to get the rig winched back onto the trail. The Land Cruiser also sliced open a tire in the boulders. A link to photos of this trek are found at the end of this page.

I've also seen photos of a stock Chevrolet S-10 Blazer with the Z off-road package running this course, who was with a group of Jeep YJ Wranglers and CJ-5s and an FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser (I was informed that the Blazer did make it with a “little difficulty”). A link to the photos is found at the end of this page.

The meadow at Onion Creek may be wet and muddy in the early summer months. At times it is difficult to see where the trail goes because of the grass. Onion Creek is small but generally has a good flow, fed by a series of springs that suddenly gush forth from a dry, sage covered slope a bit more than a half mile further along the trail.

If you are on a quad or dirt bike and have experience, this section poses no insurmountable obstacle.

Update: 7/3/07: A short video (Windows Media file) of an ATV running the boulders on the lower part of this stretch is found HERE. A pop-up window will open and allow you to view or save the file, which is 1.83 megabytes. For dial-up users, it will take about two minutes to download and it would be best to select the option to save it, I find the best place to do so is to my desktop so I can find it easily after the download is complete.

Update: 9/15/07: Fred T., who goes by the screen name “Explorer1” on 4x4 websites, has been kind enough to allow me to use his photos of a recent trip he took through this zone in his modified Jeep Cherokee. His photos are pretty amazing and show how tricky this section will be to traverse in a full size vehicle. Explorer1's photos are below.

End of Part 3.

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Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow 4x4 Trail, Part 4 – Onion Creek to Sanger Meadow: Section length, about 2.8 miles. From the meadow where the trail first reaches Onion Creek, the route turns north and begins to climb fairly steeply through aspen stands and meadow grass for about 0.6 tenths of a mile; at which point Onion Creek suddenly issues forth from a series of springs. In late spring and early summer, this section of meadow will likely have running water, creating muddy conditions. Beyond the springs, the route continues to climb through open sagebrush another 0.15 mile to top out at a saddle between the stark, bold and conical mountain called Sugarloaf and the Round Mountain ridge – and highest point along the main trail at an elevation of 10,291 feet.

Detour – Southern Viewpoint: At the saddle, a short side road climbs eastward about a half mile to a small summit, then down to an overlook of the Owens Valley. This is the southern of two viewpoints outlined here. This viewpoint is at an elevation of 10,314 feet and overlooks much of Owens Valley, the White Mountains and Inyo Range and beyond into the mountains of Nevada. It is level and makes a nice picnic spot.

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Continue Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow 4x4 Trail, Part 4: Continuing further along 0.3 tenths of a mile will bring one into a grassy meadow and a junction in the road. Turn left to continue to Sanger Meadow, or drive straight ahead to visit the northern viewpoint.

Detour – Northern Viewpoint: From the junction you can see a road climbing straight up the mountainside a short distance away to the north. This road leads you to the northern viewpoint. Continue ahead from the junction 0.2 tenths of a mile, then turn right and drive up the hillclimb. In 0.3 tenths of a mile you'll reach the ridgetop. Among the stony outcroppings you'll enjoy superb views in nearly all directions. The elevation here is nearly 10,750 feet and is the highest point on this journey. Note, the road that accesses the northern viewpoint does continue north from the meadow and up into the country on the western slope of Round Mountain before dropping down onto Coyote Flat; but I've not followed it and cannot comment on its condition.

---------------------------------------------

Continue Big Pine-Glacier View-Sanger Meadow 4x4 Trail, Part 4: From the junction, the trail will gently descend through grassy and open meadows 1.3 miles to a fork overlooking Sanger Meadow. Taking either fork will drop you down onto the broad meadow in about 700 feet.

At Sanger Meadow, the main road will take you south into the headwaters of Baker Creek, or north through Coyote Flat and on to Bishop. But this region is huge and numerous 4x4 trails entice one to venture back into lakes, streams, alpine vistas and dense forests. The entire Coyote Flat/Sanger Meadow country will entertain you for as long as you choose to stay. Countless backcountry campsites are found throughout the region. Deer hunting is popular during season.

If you wish or need to return to the Owens Valley via Bishop, turn north at Sanger Meadow and follow this road a bit more than 20 miles to downtown Bishop, a bit more than an hour away at safe speeds. The road is generally washboarded but safe for all 4x4 vehicles.

In the future I plan on building a page on Coyote Flats/Sanger Meadows trails.

©2005, 2006 , 2007, 2008, 2009 D.A. Wright
All Rights Reserved

Page Revised: 09/22/2009
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Last edited by DAW89446; 06-01-2020 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:37 PM #8
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Originally Posted by DAW89446 View Post
In the first section and in 2008, I added some last minute updates due to serious erosion on the lower portion of the trail at that time. I moved away from Big Pine to north central Nevada shortly after I updated the page and have not attempted the trail since then. Thus, I have no clue as to its current condition.

Even in great condition, which it's far from, there's only a few guys on this site that would run it. The Big Pine entrance isn't to be taken lightly. The trails changed a lot in the last 5 years.
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Old 06-01-2020, 11:04 PM #9
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Great info again, thanks for your details!
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