Southwest over Lundy Canyon from Mt. Olsen
Virginia Lakes is 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 that can each be done in a day or less.
The first peak on the left when driving up to the lakes is Mt. Olsen. This is a rather humble and easily approachable high point on the ridge leading to "South Peak". Olsen is a simple class 1-2 hike that can be done in a few hours or it can be combined with "South Peak
" and Black Mountain
, the higher peaks along the ridge to the west.
The views over Lundy and Lake Canyons and the peaks beyond are outstanding. All the peaks in the area are excellent for skiing as well.
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 .5 miles to the easy chute between "South Peak" and Mt. Olsen. Take the chute to the saddle and go .3 miles (left) to Mt. Olsen.
The considerable fields of chaparral near the top are the only challenge this peak has to offer unless you do the south face from Lundy Canyon. This would involve over 3,000' gain on steep questionable terrain and probably not worth the effort.
Mono Lake from Mt. Olsen
This is Inyo National Forest and no permits are required.
The only campground in the area is the Trumbull Lake (9,745') campground less than a mile from the trailhead.