OverviewObservation Peak boasts spectacular panoramic views over a wild, remote part of the High Sierra. The Palisades, Devils Crags, and Middle Fork Kings River are only a few of the sights for those who make the long journey to the top. The peak is one of the 248 included on the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter’s Sierra Peaks Section list. Other SPS peaks in the area include Mt Ruskin, Marion Peak, and Arrow Peak.
The first credited ascent of Observation Peak in 1902 is attributed to Joseph N. LeConte, the University of California, Berkley engineering professor and noted Sierra explorer. LeConte climbed the peak during the same trip that he made first ascents on (the north face of) Split Mountain and Marion Peak. The name more than likely originates from the fact that he used the peak for triangulation purposes to map the area.
Getting ThereObservation Peak can be approached from a number of different directions depending on the itinerary. It is debatable which trailhead is closer, Bishop Pass or Taboose Pass, but most people appear to use the Bishop Pass trail as the easiest access to the John Muir Trail. Entry into this region is also available from the west, albeit a bit longer.
Bishop Pass offers several strenuous routes over abandoned and mostly non-existent trails to Observation Peak via the junction with the Middle Fork of the King’s River trail (Grouse Meadow).
Taboose Pass provides access from the south and east to couple of different routes.
The Copper Creek trail provides two arduous routes to Observation Peak. Cartridge Trail (via Simpson Meadow and Granite Pass) or a variation of the Steve Roper’s High Sierra Route will both eventually get the hiker to the Observation Peak area.
RoutesObservation Peak’s north face may boast some difficult routes but the standard scrambles are straight forward. These include:
Red Tape , Camping, and ConditionsEverything you need to know about permits, regulations, and driving directions can be found on the Eastern Sierra - Logistical Center page. While overnight hikes require a wilderness permit, day hikes can be done without red tape.
Climbing can be done in almost any season but May through October are the most popular times. In heavy snow years, the chutes and slopes may hold residual snow. This is also true for any of the routes over the Sierra Crest. Check for current weather.
External LinksClimber.org trip reports
My photos from High Sierra Route Part 1