Mishe Mokwa Trail

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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Mishe Mokwa Trail
Created On: Jan 22, 2004
Last Edited On: Mar 18, 2010


  • Where the name comes from:

    Mishe Mokwa: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Song of Hiawatha" includes the following lines:

    "...Then he swung aloft his war club
    Shouted loud and long his war cry,
    Smote the mighty Mishe Mokwa
    In the middle of the forehead,
    Right between the eyes he smote him..."

    Mishe Mokwa was a great bear in that poem, but this usage derives from local Chippewa tribal mythology in Wisconsin or Michigan and may not apply here.

    Some years ago “Mishe Mokwa Trail” was named “Bedsprings Trail” until Boy Scouts arrived in that area. Before that it was a goat trail.

  • The Mishe Mokwa Trailhead can be reached about 0.3 miles along the Backbone Trail from its connection with Yerba Buena Road (about half a mile east of the Sandstone Peak Trailhead). It can also be reached from the Sandstone Peak Trailhead and the Connector Trail (part of the Backbone Trail). The trail climbs gently through chaparral around the east side of Sandstone Peak, eventually descends into Carlisle Canyon and you can see Echo Cliffs and Balanced Rock. Near the canyon the trail becomes shadier under Oak and Laurel trees. The trail eventually enters the canyon at Split Rock, a volcanic breccia that is split into three pieces. You can walk through two of these pieces.

  • After Split Rock the trail soon goes uphill. Two water tanks become visible on the opposite site of the area just below Exchange Peak. The trail now turns and leads towards the water tanks. You pass a trail heading north towards Tri-Peaks. Continue towards the water tanks and further uphill towards Sandstone Peak. A short, fun, class 2 scramble will lead you to the top of Sandstone Peak with magnificent views all around on clear days. Return down the steep use trail on the west side of the peak to the main trail. The trail now leads east then south around Sandstone Peak. After several switchbacks you will see the Connector Trail veering off to the left. Take this Connector Trail which intercepts the Mishe Mokwa Trail. From there it’s a short walk to the trailhead.

  • Overall, this loop, which can be done clock- or counter-clockwise, is about 7 miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

    Essential Gear

    No essentail gear is necessary. Some easy scrambling on the final apprach to the summit of Sandstone Peak. Bring sunprotection in the summer.

    Mishe Mokwa Trail

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