Southwest Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.54390°N / 119.7555°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike / Scramble
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk - Up
Sign the Climber's Log


The trail starts at the west side of the PCT parking area. It rises over a small ridge then heads southeast losing some elevation along the way. At the head of Noble Canyon the trail rises up to Noble lake, and the trail passes east above the lake about 4.5 miles from the trailhead.  The PCT cuts to the right once above the lake.  Get off the PCT at this point and at the inlet stream east of the lake there is an unmaintained trail along the stream east a couple of hundred yards to a smaller lake. Work around south side of this lake to find the climbers trail that takes you along the base of some crags to the SE and up to a saddle between the crag and Highland Peak - South Peak 10,824'.  The main uphill work starts here.

Route Description

From the saddle gained below the south peak, follow the climber trails northeast along the ridge toward the summit of the south peak. There is a tremendous amount of scree, so be careful of your footing. Gain a small saddle just below the summit of the south peak and Highland Peak comes into full view. 

Highland Peak and the Silver Peaks from Point 10824
Highland Peak and the Silver Peaks from Point 10824

From here contour to the northwest and then down to a saddle between Highland and the south peak. Head northeast up a class 2 scramble. The rock makes it almost like walking up stairs. There is a false summit ahead of you. Move to the right around it and then up another 100 yards or so to the actual summit.  The final summit may need a couple of hand holds.

It is about 6 1/2 miles to the summit gaining over 3,200'.  However, nearly 1,000' of gain is required on the way back, heading back up and over the south peak, and then back up and down the PCT to Ebbetts Pass.

Essential Gear

The only gear needed is some good footwear and plenty of water.




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