Northwest Ridge via Blue Canyon

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
Mostly trail hiking with a little Class 2 scrambling

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Northwest Ridge via Blue Canyon
Created On: May 6, 2003
Last Edited On: Jul 1, 2007


The trailhead for this route is very seldom used, and easy to miss. To reach the start point drive up Highway 108 toward Sonora Pass, right before the 9000ft sign on the highway pull over into a dirt turnout. The side of the road drops strait down to Deadman Creek, and Blue Canyon Creek is just behind you down the road. Blue Canyon is directly to the South of you, as is Leavitt Peak.

Route Description

You'll need to forge, or hop across Deadman Creek, which parallels the highway. Then follow Blue Canyon Creek up into Blue Canyon. The trail up Blue Canyon is fairly well marked, though in the spring and early summer snow can cover the trail making it hard to follow. Follow Blue Canyon Creek until you reach about 10000ft. About a quarter mile before the lake you want to take off up the ridge on your left-hand side(east). The trail disappears here, and you'll need to do some scrambling up and over the ridge. When you reach the top of this short ridge Leavitt Peak will be south/southeast in front of you(approx 160 degrees). You'll climb up another shale slope, which brings you to Deadman Lake. Stay to the left of Deadman Lake, making a line strait at the steep gravel ridge just to the east of the lake. Sometimes a faint trail is visible up the side of the ridge. Ascend strait up the slope to the ridgeline. Once on top follow the narrow ridgeline up to the northeast ridge of Leavitt Peak. This ridge is narrow and the very end requires a little rock scrambling to get up to the northeast ridge(photo posted of the ridgeline). After reaching the top, turn left/east for your final ascent to the top of Leavitt Peak. Views from the peak include; North to Sonora Peak and Highway 108 in the valley below, South toward Relief Peak, Kennedy Peak, Molo Mountain and in the distance the Yosemite High Country, and East toward Nevada and the 395 valley. From the Peak one can either descend the same ridgeline toward Blue Canyon, which becomes difficult at times due to loose rocks and gravel. Or an easy descent via the Southeast ridge to the PCT. This requires a short hike down Highway 108 back to your car.
Leavitt Peak s NW RidgeUpper NW Ridge

Leavitt Peak Panorama SouthSummit Panorama

Essential Gear

From July to the first snow a solid pair of hiking boots, plenty of water, and a lunch are all that is needed to climb this route. In the early season, when snow often lingers crampons may be needed to ascend some sections of the northwest ridgeline. Trekking poles are a must for balance and stability anytime before July when snow is present. Water can be refilled at Blue Canyon Lake or Deadman Lake, which are present year round, purification is suggested for both. Be sure to wear lots of sunscreen, since this hike has little tree cover and is very open.

Miscellaneous Info

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