Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.04080°N / 119.2457°W
Additional Information County: Mono
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 11086 ft / 3379 m
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

Southwest from Mt. Olsen
Southwest over Lundy Canyon from Mt. Olsen

Mount Olsen rises just southeast of the Virginia Lakes Trailhead; one of the Eastern High Sierra's most accessible jumping off points. The trailhead leading into the back country is 9,800'. The area is dotted with numerous lakes and surrounded by a horseshoe cirque of 11-12,000' peaks.

Mount Olsen is the first peak on the left when driving up to the parking area. This is a rather humble and easily approachable summit with 395' of prominence. Mount Olsen is often combined with South Peak and Black Mountain, the higher peaks along the ridge to the west.

The views over Lundy Canyon and the peaks beyond are outstanding. All the peaks in the area are excellent for skiing as well.

Depending on snow conditions, Mount Olsen can be hiked as early as Memorial Day Weekend; but often hiking here is done starting mid-June and going through early October.

Appreciation is owed to Windsor Riley (aka Noondueler) who created this page, and who passed away in 2016.

Getting There

Dunderberg Peak from Mt. Olsen
Dunderberg Peak from Mt. Olsen

From the junction with Hwy. 120, go north 12 miles on Hwy. 395 to Conway Summit, 8,143', (the highest pass of Hwy 395 in the eastern Sierra).

From Bridgeport take 395 south 13 miles to Conway Summit.

At Conway Summit take the Virginia Lakes Road 6 miles (west) to the trailhead at roads end.

Take the short trail going to Red Lake (south) a few hundred yards. Break off before Red Lake and traverse left between the base of South Peak and an unnamed lake half a mile to the easy chute between South Peak and Mount Olsen. Take the chute to the saddle and go 0.3 miles (left) to Mount Olsen.

Heading up the gully between Mount Olsen and South Peak
Heading up the gully between Mount Olsen and South Peak

Despite requiring off-trail hiking, this is a pretty easy peak.  From the trailhead, it is only about 1.5 miles to the summit gaining less than 1,300'.  A fun 5-mile loop can be done over Mount Olsen, South Peak, and Black Mountain back to the trailhead, gaining 2,700'.

There isn't an accessible nor desirable route from the Lundy Canyon.

Looking back at Mount Olsen 11,086' and Mono Lake while heading up South Peak
Looking back at Mount Olsen 11,086' and Mono Lake while heading up South Peak

Red Tape

Mono Lake from Mt. Olsen
Mono Lake from Mt. Olsen

This is Inyo National Forest and no permits are required.

Camping

The only campground in the area is the Trumbull Lake (9,745') campground less than a mile from the trailhead.  However, people often camp at the Virginia Lakes Trailhead or sleep in their car at the trailhead.