Forsyth Peak overlooks the scenic sister lakes of Dorothy, Helen, Ruth, Stella, Bonnie, Harriet and Cora Lakes in the Hoover Wilderness Area. All of these lovely lakes are within a couple of miles of each other and worthy of a visit in and of themselves. Forsyth peak actually straddles the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park. Although it is located only a mile off the Pacific Crest Trail, there is not much off-trail traffic in this remote area of Yosemite.
The easiest routes to the summit are simple Class II scrambles up the slopes on the south side or NE side of the mountain. There is also more technical climbing to be found on the NW side of the summit. There is a particularly cool looking granite column which stands apart from the main ridge just NE of the summit with interesting climbing possibilities.
The summit offers spectacular views of the Saurian Crest, Keyes Peak, Tower Peak and numerous other peaks in the Hoover Wilderness Area.
Forsyth Peak is located on the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park. Although it is located just a mile off of the Pacific Crest Trail, it is a hike to get there and would most likely be climbed during a multi-day backpacking trip. The closest trailheads are the Leavitt Meadows Trailhead, or Leavitt Lake.
From the Leavitt Meadows trailhead, follow the West Walker River trail south until you reach the Cascade Creek trail. Follow the Cascade Creek trail until it joins the PCT. Stay on the PCT until you reach the sister lakes. Any one of the lakes can serve as a good base camp.
From the Leavitt Lake trailhead, follow the Leavitt Pass trail south, up and over Big Sam, for 10 miles until you reach Emigrant Pass. Take the trail split to the south. Near Grizzly Meadow, you can take 1 of 2 routes that lead to Bond Pass. The Bond Pass High trial is a bit more scenic. Or you can take the trail that borders Summit Meadow. Continue east until you reach the PCT. From the trail junction, head north to base camp at the sister lakes, or head southeast to ascend the southern side of Forsyth Peak. (15 miles total)
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.
Bear cannisters are required by federal law in most areas of Yosemite National Park. Keep in mind that Forsyth Peak straddles the boundary of the Hoover Wilderness Area. Bear cannisters are not currently required in the Hoover Wilderness Area.
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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. So typically the most popular time to climb the mountain is from June through October.
"William Woods Forsyth (1856-1933), US Army, acting superintendent of Yosemite National Park, 1909-1912. Robert B. Marshall, topographer on the Mt. Lyell 30' map, was a close friend of Forsyth. He named the peak and a 'Forsyth Pass' (on McClure's map of 1896, but no other) on the Forsyth Trail between Clouds Rest and Tenaya Lake, and also named individual features for each of Forsyth's four daughters [lakes Dorothy, Evelyn, and Helen, and Polly Dome] and two sons-in-law [Lake Keyes and McCabe Lakes]." - Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
There are numerous other peaks that can be bagged while in this remote area of northern Yosemite. Keyes Peak, Saurian Crest, Tower Peak, Watchtower Peak and Quartzite Peak are all within a 4-mile radius of Forsyth Peak, which can make for a great weekend of peak bagging.