Center Mountain is an 11,000' peak that sits on the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park in Toulumne County, marking the division with the Hoover Wilderness Area in Mono County. The summit can be reached from the east slope, south ridge or west slope with relative ease by means of Class 2 and Class 3 routes. The north face offers more technical climbing with routes rated 5+.
The granite summit blocks stand above the sandy ridge to yield beautiful views of the surrounding Northern Yosemite peaks and valleys. From this lovely perch can be seen Hawksbeak Peak, Erhnbeck Peak, Wells Peak, Tower Peak, Grouse Peak, Crown Point, and the dramatic Sawtooth Ridge, as well as Thompson Canyon and Kerrick Meadow.
Center Mountain is rarely climbed because of it's relative remote location, and because of competition from more notable mountains in Yosemite. You will likely have the summit all to yourself.
Note that there is no summit register. Please consider providing one if you climb this peak...!
The best option to get to Center Mountain is from the Twin Lakes trailhead as described below. The description of the Twin Lakes trailhead was mostly taken from bearbnz's Hawksbeak page. His page has some additional directions.
1) The Twin Lakes trailhead is the shortest (8 miles) approach the peak. The best access to the area is from US 395. From the north, as you arrive in the tiny town of Bridgeport, watch for the first right hand turn just after the Mini Mo-Mart fuel station. This is Twin Lakes Road. From the south, enter Bridgeport and proceed to the end of town and take the last left-hand turn, right across from Buster's Market. This is the same Twin Lakes Road. At the end of the road is Mono Village. If you are staying overnight, enter the Village and bear left, along the shoreline to the boat trailer parking and a large dirt turnaround. The trailhead parking is along the edge of the turnaround. Dayhiker parking is along the shoreline of the lake prior to the turnaround.
From either parking area (they are quite close together), head into the campground through the main entrance. There are 3 roads branching off to the west from here. Take the middle road, and watch for a meadow on your left after a couple hundred yards . If you see it, you are on the correct road. Otherwise, backtrack and try again, there are many roads running through the campground area. When you see the meadow, continue on and you will pass a cable stretched across the road, and this is the recognized trailhead. Follow the road to the sign indicating the turnoff to Barney Lake. Continue west past Peeler Lake to Kerrick Meadow. From the meadow, you have 2 options depending on whether you wish to ascend the mountain from the east or west. For the shortest route, head north towards Buckeye Pass then northeast to the summit. Alternatively, head straight west across Kerrick Meadow to the obvious low point in the ridge that separates Kerrick Meadow from Thompson Canyon. There is a low-use trail that crosses over the ridge which is described in Ben Schifrin's guidebook, though it is not maintained and difficult to locate. Once you reach Thompson Canyon, turn north and Center Mountain will be just ahead on your right-hand side.
2) Alternatively, you can take the trailhead at the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station which is located on CA Hwy 108, just west of I-395. Free parking is available in the trailhead parking area near the campground, north of the pack station. You can hike the 17 miles to Center Mountain, or have Leavitt Meadows Pack Station take you in on horse back most of the way. Rates for horses are available on their web site. Call well in advance to reserve horse and guide if you decide to pack in with them.
Follow the Walker River trail south past Upper Piute Meadow and then take the trail to Rainbow Canyon past Hawksbeak Peak. Center Mountain can be seen on the other side of Thompson Canyon, straight ahead on your right-hand side.
Free wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in both the Hoover Wilderness Area and Yosemite National Park.
Call the Summit ranger station at (209) 965-3434 near Pinecrest ahead of time and they will prepare a permit for you in advance, or the Bridgeport Ranger Station at 760-932-7070 if traveling from the east.
Food Storage Bear cannisters are required by federal law in most areas of Yosemite National Park. Keep in mind that Wells Peak is near the boundary of the Hoover Wilderness Area. Bear cannisters are not currently required in the Hoover Wilderness Area.
Click here for current information.
The 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 more difficult from the west. So typically the most popular time to climb the mountain is from June through October.
There are several established camp sites near the trail in the northern end of Thompson Canyon that are good.
If the mosquitos are bad, consider camping here. There is some nice flat ground by a tarn on the NW side of Center Mountain that is open and breezy. However, there is no tree shelter there.