Standard - El Dorado Canyon

Standard - El Dorado Canyon

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.52300°N / 118.171°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Steep class 1
Sign the Climber's Log


See the main text for directions into El Dorado Canyon.

Route Description

In dry conditions, most vehicles should be able to get to the 5,700-foot level in El Dorado Canyon, near some abandoned buildings and where the road makes a sharp bend. Here's a Topozone link:

El Dorado Canyon Road Bend

From here, the road starts switchbacking very steeply up the mountainside. Four-wheel drive is essential. A good 4wd vehicle with good power and a capable driver should be able to knock off at least a mile or two and maybe 1,000-1,500 feet of gain. Please note: the switchback turns are very tight, the gradients very steep and exposure is a concern. It's simply a question of whether one feels comfortable continuing or parking. I was able to get my Nissan Frontier Truck to about the 6,900-foot level to a point where I came upon a ridiculously tight switchback. I parked at a turn-out nearby. The road was still pretty good for awhile, then at about 8,000 feet the quality deteriorates severely. A skilled driver in a Jeep, or perhaps smaller quadrunners, might get up this section. The road ends at a saddle about a mile north of the summit at about 9,000 feet.

Regardless of where one parks, the hiking route follows the road to the saddle, then cross-country south across sage slopes to the obvious summit. Route finding is very easy.

For ideas on mileages and gain:

If one starts at the road-bend at 5,700 feet, expect about 5.5 miles one-way and 4,100 feet of steady gain.

From where I parked at about 6,900 feet, we had about a 3.5 mile one-way hike and just under 3,000 feet of gain.

Some flat section at about 7,300 feet and 7,900 feet offer good places to park. The 7,900-foot area is about a 2.5 mile one-way hike to the summit.

The road's end is about 9,000 feet and about 1 mile north of the summit, an 800-foot gain.

Bring lots of water! In summer it can be a hot hike. Start early and get shade most of the way up.

(2005): El Dorado Cyn may be washed out per some recent reports. Go to the main page for a link to a possible alternative approach to Star Peak.

Essential Gear

Just boots, comfy clothing, lols of water.


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