This trail begins on the usual mason lake approach trailhead. The difference is that it skips that long shallow incline over toward Bandera Mountain and back, shaving off a few miles in the process.
Route DescriptionI suggest you take a topography map and compass with you if this is your first time on the route. Begin at the Mason lake trail head. At about 2980 feet there is a small opening in the forest on the left. You will know it's the right trail if it soon begins a series of short switchbacks. After the first mile the trail skirts the stream that drains off Mason Lake. Follow the stream up to Mason lake and then continue along the regular route up the top of the ridge to the summit. This trail shortens the round trip by 2 or 3 miles and is especially helpful in snowy conditions. I would recommend this as a first choice for winter ascents.
UpdateAs of June 9, 2009. The upper half of this route is in poor condition. There are many large piles of blown down trees and the trail is fading in sections and becoming hard to see as any different than the rest of the forest. It's still easy to find your way to Mason lake if you stay near the creek but you might have to bushwhack the last part.