Sawteeth-Gothics Loop

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 44.11436°N / 73.85042°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Apr 30, 2016
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Sawteeth/Pyramid/Gothics Loop

   I had been thinking about Sawteeth for some time and the possibility of making a bigger loop hike with it instead of just Sawteeth alone. I'd been keeping an eye on the weather all week and Saturday looked to be the perfect day for what I wanted to try: Take the Lake Road up to the Dam, then follow the scenic trail to the summit of Sawteeth, followed by Pyramid Peak, Gothics, and a return via the Beaver Meadow trail. By my calculations, the loop would be just over 14 miles and doable in a day. This would be my goal, but I knew I still had the option of a shorter return via the Weld trail if I decided I'd had enough for the day after Sawteeth.

Sawteeth from Lake Rd.
Sawteeth from Lake Rd.
   I woke up at 4:00 Saturday morning, ate a good breakfast as I checked the weather one last time, and made it to the parking area on Ausable Rd a little before 7:00. There were only 8 other cars there, but I knew it would be packed in no time on such a beautiful day. Temperatures would be in the upper 40's and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I had prepared my things pretty well and it didn't take me long to start up towards the Lake Rd. I reached the gate at 7:10 and from there headed up the Lake Rd. This part can seem long, but at least it's scenic and a good warm-up before the real hiking begins.

Tame DeerDeer posed for me along the Lake Rd.

   I reached the dam at 8:17, one of my favorite spots, and took some pictures. I was feeling great and not really in need of a rest just yet, so I continued on rather quickly to the junction for the Scenic Trail. Now the real hiking would begin! I took a left at the junction for the scenic trail and started around Lower Ausable Lake, pretty much on the level. Along this stretch of trail, I believe are the best views of Indian Head and why it was named as such. At about 8:40, and half a mile, the trail started to climb away from the lake. I came to Outlook 1 which was impressive, and then to Outlook 2 with a big boulder sitting there, high above the lake.

2nd OverlookMe at the
2nd Outlook
   All of the outlooks along this section of trail had amazing views and I took plenty of pictures along the way. I reached Outlook 4, Lookout Rock, just before 10:00 and took a 20 minute rest with some snacks and a drink. Again, the views did not dissapoint, and looming over me was the summit of Sawteeth! ...Or so I thought.

False Summit
False Summit behind Outlook #4

   This turned out to be a false summit, even though it was impressive to look at while I was resting. So I reached the first false summit and spotted the next summit...also false. There was a sign for Marble Point, but I decided to skip the side trip since the trail was mostly snow and ice above 3500 ft and I wanted enough time for the loop hike I had planned. I didn't let the false summits discourage me and at 11:30 I reached the true summit. Here I ate lunch on a nice rock outcrop that had great views of Pyramid Peak and the Great Range. This was my main objective, as I had summited Gothics via Pyramid a couple years prior. However, that time I was completely clouded in and had no views at all from Pyramid or Gothics, so I really wanted to get back up there on a clear day. I was still feeling great and decided to wait until I got to the col between Sawteeth and Pyramid to see if I still wanted to tackle Pyramid and Gothics or head back out early.

Pyramid & Gothics
Pyramid & Gothics seen from Sawteeth
I left the Sawteeth summit at 12:07 and headed north down the even more snowy and icy trail to the col. The trail was very steep and icy, but I made it down without incident and arrived at the trail junction at 12:35. I met a couple there who were heading up Sawteeth and we talked for a few minutes, all of us so thankful for such great weather. It didn't take me long to decide to continue my original plan to head up Pyramid to Gothics...there was just way too much time left in this spectacular day! I couldn't bear to return so soon.
   It took me from 12:45 till 1:27 to reach the summit of Pyramid Peak. The trail was steep and still very icy. I rested at the summit, snacked and took more pictures. The views were amazing from up here and Sawteeth looked a lot smaller than it felt climbing it!
Great View of Sawteeth from Pyramid Peak
Great View of Sawteeth from Pyramid Peak
   I was back on the trail at 1:45 and reached Gothics summit at 2:07. The hike over from Pyramid was relatively easy and not too long. With still not a cloud in the sky, the views were incredible in all directions. I enjoyed the views and talked a bit with a few guys that were in the Army, but didn't stay too long so I would still be able to get home at a decent time.
   I left Gothics at 2:15 and reached the trail junction for the Beaver Meadow Trail at 2:35, .4 miles from Gothics. The trail was covered in snow and ice still but the going was easy and I felt a sense of relief knowing it was all downhill from here. My sense of relief was short lived, however, as I encountered several ladders taking me higher! I started to wonder if I had taken the wrong trail. But after checking my location, I found that I was indeed on the correct trail.
Sawteeth/Pyramid Col
Sawteeth/Pyramid Col
   Along this stretch of trail there were a couple spots with some great views of Sawteeth, Pyramid and Gothics. I continued on and the trail soon started to descend again. At 2:55 I came across a huge balanced rock to the left, .9 miles from Gothics, and of course had to get in some pictures. The trail was now extremely icy, snow covered and steep. This was NOT the easy downhill stretch I had imagined! This 2.4 mile stretch seemed much, much longer and it was taking me forever to progress down the steep, slippery trail.

Who can't resist taking one of these pictures???
Who can resist taking one of these pictures???

After a while the snow and ice disappeared. I was so relieved! I continued down and at 3:45 came to a 2011 landslide coming down from my right, 1.6 miles from Gothics. It was an impressive site to see with the piles of trees and boulders the size of cars that had slid down the mountain side. It was definitely easy going now and I reached the West River Trail and Beaver Meadow Falls at 4:20, 2.8 miles from Gothics.
2011 Landslide
2011 Landslide
   I took a short rest (and more pictures) and then crossed a bridge over the river and followed the trail back to the Lake Rd. The last few miles were uneventful, but thankfully flat and easy on my knees after the long, steep descent off of Gothics. I reached my car at 5:37 PM and headed home, ready for some homade bbq pulled pork sandwiches. Today had been a great success for me and I'm in the process of planning my next adventure.

Beginning of Beaver Meadow TrailBeaver Meadow Falls
Beginning of Beaver Meadow Trail & The Falls

Total Time: 10 hrs 37 min.
Total Miles: 14.2 miles (by the book)
Total Ascent: +/- 4,000 ft.
Pictures Taken: 71


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