2018 Split Mountain Trail Details and Road Conditions

2018 Split Mountain Trail Details and Road Conditions

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 37.02080°N / 118.4214°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 13, 2018
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer

Split Mountain Trail Details and Road Conditions

Red Lake Split Mountain
Red Lake Split Mountain
  • Split Mountain Elevation14,065 ft
  • Best Trail to SummitRed Lake Trail to the Class 2 North Slope
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back
  • Mileage: ~14 miles round trip 
  • Total Elevation Gain: ~7,500 feet total elevation gain
  • Split Mountain Trailhead: Red Lake Trailhead 
  • Trailhead Elevation: 6,500 feet
  • Estimated Time to complete: We recommend taking 2-3 days to hike this trail. We planned for a 2 day hike. It took us about 6 hours from the trailhead to get to Red Lake on day one. We didn’t summit Split Mountain on day two, but I estimate it would’ve taken us about 14 hours (at our pace that day) to get up to summit and back down to the trailhead from Red Lake on Day 2. Some people have hiked this in a day, but it just depends on your fitness level and technical capability and comfort.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous and Difficult! This is a technical trail! Do not attempt unless you are comfortable with class 2, loose scree/tallus, steep loose banks, and ridge lines. If you aren't comfortable route finding, and not following a well-defined "trail" opt-out of this hike, or build those skills first and then attempt Split Mountain.
  • Water Available? There is water along the trail, but not super easy to access. It is best to bring enough water to make it to the Red Lake, where you can filter more water. 3 liters was sufficient for me to get from the Trailhead to Red Lake. 
  • Dog friendly? You could certainly take a dog up to Red Lake. I would not attempt to take a pet up to Split Mountain summit though.  
  • PRO TIP!! DO NOT FOLLOW THE TRAIL THAT IS RIGHT AT THE TRAILHEAD SIGN! Instead, hike up north of the trailhead sign a bit and follow an unmarked trail that will lead you higher up along the canyon instead of deep in the canyon where you will spend a lot of time bushwhacking. We were fortunate to have been told this advice before starting and were able to stay high the whole time, but we ran into others that day who said they spent a miserable time bushwhacking in the canyon.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we set off to hike Split Mountain. On the one hand it seemed like an “easier 14er”, rated class 2 and only about 14 miles round trip. On the other hand the more I read about it, the more challenging it became in my mind. Some talked about the road to the trailhead being horrible, and others mentioned bushwhacking on unmaintained trails. I also didn’t really feel at all prepared for what lied ahead of me once past the Red Lake camping area.  

Camping at Red Lake Split Mountain
Camping at Red Lake Split Mountain

My Full trip report can be found here, but below you can find our high level schedule: https://www.shedreamsofalpine.com/blog/split-mountain-hike Trip report includes details on the road condition getting to trailhead, plus a map of how we got there and some photos of the road. We also attached a gpx file that we followed that day for Split. 

At a high level, here is what our schedule hiking Split Mountain looked like:  >>  Picked up our Split Mountain Permits at about 3 PM from White Mountain Ranger Station on Friday  >>  Drove to Red Lake Trailhead Friday, and slept at trailhead (6,500 feet elevation)  >>  Started hiking Saturday at 7AM, 6 hours to Red Lake  >>  Camped at Red Lake  >>  Started hiking Sunday at 4AM toward Split Mountain Summit  >>  Decided to turn around at 12,700 ft. (On the ridge line toward Split Summit)  >>  Back to Red Lake Trailhead by 4PM Sunday evening.


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