Forsyth Peak, Tower Peak and the Saurian Crest from Quartzite Peak.
The Saurian Crest is located in the scenic and remote northern region of Yosemite National Park. It separates Grace Meadow and Jack Main Canyon from Mary Lake. Although it is technically considered a ridge and not a peak, there are a series of pinnacles on the top which require technical climbing to reach.
As it name implies, the Saurian Crest resembles the back of some ancient creature. It's a long and narrow ridge with enough jagged points to challenge any climber. Low Class 5 climbing is required to reach the high point on the ridge, which is the southeastern most of the 2 main peaklets.
The area surrounding the crest offers solitude, good camping, good fishing and a beautiful alpine environment complete with lovely meadows, groves of Hemlock, Lodgepole and Whitebark Pine trees, and plenty of wildflowers in the summer. If you're looking to get away from the crowds in Yosemite Valley, this is an ideal spot for you...!
Getting ThereThe closest trailheads to the Saurian Crest are located at the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir from the south, or at Leavitt Meadows from the north.
1) Directions and details for the Leavitt Meadows Trailhead can be found here.
Follow the West Walker River trail south all the way to Tower Lake. Continue south over a low use trail over the saddle to Mary Lake. The Saurian Crest overlooks the western shoreline of Mary Lake.
You can hike the 17.5 miles to the Saurian Crest, or have Leavitt Meadows Pack Station take you all or part of the way. Rates for horses are available on their web site.
2) Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is accessible off of Route 120 near the western entrance to Yosemite National Park. From Hwy 120, drive north on Evergreen Road. Turn right on Hetch Hetchy Road and drive for 9.1 miles until you get to the parking area at O'Shaughnessy Dam.
The Hetchy Hetchy Road is only open at certain times, usually 7am-8pm. Check the NPS site for current times.
Take the trail north to Jack Main Canyon until you reach the PCT. Continue north until you reach the trail for Tilden Lake. Follow the trail on the western shore past the lake and continue northward until you reach Mary Lake. The Saurian Crest overlooks the western shoreline of Mary Lake. (23 miles total)
Red TapeFree wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in Yosemite National Park.
Depending on your point of entry and which direction you are coming from, call one of the following ranger stations for wilderness permits.
- Hetch Hetchy Entrance Station: (209) 372-0200
- Summit Ranger Station, for Sonora Pass trailheads: (209) 965-3434
- Bridgeport Ranger Station, for Sonora Pass trailheads: (760) 932-7070
When To ClimbThe climbing season varys each year depending on how much snow the area receives during the winter months. Hwy 108 closes during the winter, making winter access from the north more difficult. The distance of the Saurian Crest from the nearest trailhead adds complexity to winter climbing. So typically the most popular time to climb the mountain is from June through October.
CampingThere are several excellent camp sites at the north end of Mary Lake. There is also a fair camp site at the northwest end of Tilden Lake, and another one near the middle of the lake by the peninsula/beach. There is better camping at the south end of Tilden Lake, albeit farther from the peak.
There is also excellent fishing in both Tilden and Mary Lakes. We caught 17-18 inch Rainbow Trout in Tilden. There are Golden Trout in Mary Lake.
Mountain ConditionsCall any of the ranger stations listed above for current conditions, or click on the links below.
Hwy 108 road conditions.
Yosemite Conditions website.
Weather report for Pinecrest.
Other Nearby PeaksThere are numerous other peaks that can be bagged while in this remote area of northern Yosemite. Tower Peak, Craig Peak, Snow Peak, Keyes Peak, Haystack Peak, Schofield Peak, Michie Peak, Kendrick Peak, Bigelow Peak, and Quartzite Peak, are all within a 5-mile radius of the Saurian Crest.
Etymology"Named by William E. Colby in 1911, on account of resemblance to an ancient monster. (W. E. Colby.—S.C.B., 1912, VIII:3, plate LVI.)"
- Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park website.
- Leavitt Meadows Pack Station
Web site provides directions to the trailhead at Leavitt Meadows Pack Station and rates for pack (horse) trips.