Trail Route Options
Spicer Meadow Reservoir
(off of the TYT)
Wolf Creek Pass
(onto the PCT)
TYT to PCT
For Southbound hikers on the TYT this Highland Creek route option brings us up to the PCT via Highland Creek from the Jenkins Canyon trail junction. This is the first of four potential trails linking the PCT and TYT across the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
Taking this route splits the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness section of our hike between the Tahoe to Yosemite and Pacific Crest Trails. Of the remaining three connector trails to our South only the Boulder Lake trail is especially suited for long distance backpackers to switch trails back to the TYT off the PCT.
The Arnot and Disaster Creek trails are ideal for loops staying within the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, though the Disaster Creek trail also offers Southbound PCT hikers a good way down to the unmaintained segment of the TYT across Saint Marys Pass, along with the Boulder Lake Trail to its South.
The Alternative Route
Southbound backpackers along the TYT who hike up Highland or Arnot Creek Trails to the PCT are bypassing a rather long walk along a paved road filled with car campers.
substitute a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail South through the beautiful upper section and headwaters bowl of the East Carson River up to Sonora Pass by sacrificing the section of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail along the Clarks Fork Road. Well, maybe not all the way South to Sonora Pass on the PCT...
...And Back Again
We can drop down
from the PCT to the TYT either at the end of the Clarks Fork Road via the Disaster Creek Trail, or we can hike down the Boulder Lake Trail off the PCT to intersect with the TYT just a bit South of the end of Clarks Road.
Cutting down to the TYT on the South end of the Carson Iceberg brings us
to the difficult hike over unmaintained trail and cross country route to Saint Marys Pass, if you so desire.
Some folks on the TYT may want to trade the segment of the hike along the Clarks Fork Road, and possibly avoid the difficult segment of unmaintained trail from Eureka Valley trail junction to Saint Marys Pass in exchange for the well maintained PCT through the amazing beauties of the upper course of the East Fork of the Carson River.
The important thing is to know your options and select the one that best fits your physical and psychological profiles.
The first and last connector trails are also ideal for Southbound TYT hikers who just want to extend their hike across the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, and see as much of this beautiful place as possible.
This route modification off the TYT up to the PCT adds a bit below nine miles to the standard TYT mileage between Lake Alpine and Saint Marys Pass, if we stay on the PCT to Sonora Pass hiking up through Highland Canyon. It adds even more if we drop back down to the TYT via the Boulder Lake trail to rejoin the TYT in the upper Clarks Fork of the Stanislaus. Review those particular trail guide pages for specific distances.
The red dots on the maps lead to all the important trail junctions.
Highland Creek is the Northernmost and longest of the four trails that we can use to tie the TYT and PCT together across the length of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. The Boulder Lake trail is the Southernmost and shortest connector trail. Combining these two trails with our TYT route across the Carson Iceberg lengthens our route sufficiently to bring us through most of the high points of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
Best of Both Worlds
Longest and Hardest
Aggressive, fit, and properly skilled and experienced backpackers can use Highland Creek to swing up and around the busy Clarks Fork Road segment of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail on the PCT, then descend back to the TYT for the difficult segment over Saint Marys Pass via Boulder Lake.
PCT to TYT
For Northbound hikers only the Highland Creek trail would be a logical option. It would be logical for two reasons. First, to hike into Lake Alpine to use their free resupply service, rather than hitch-hiking down from Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4.
The second reason to hike down to the TYT and Lake Alpine would be to set ourselves up to hike the adventurous rough and unmaintained TYT North from Highway 4 to Carson Pass, rather than the pacific PCT.
Hiking North from Lake Alpine is only suggested for experienced, adventurous, and fit PCT section hikers. This does not affect many PCT hikers. Most PCT hikers are looking for speed North, not extra obstacles.
But, if you are section-hiking the PCT, this route alteration will bump up the difficulty, beauty, and intensity levels at least one notch...
To our North the TYT and PCT routes merge entering the Lake Tahoe Basin passing through the Carson Gap. So we will end up in the same place, but can get there on very different routes.
PCT section hikers may decide to swing down to the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail route to experience the quiet intensity and beauty of the remote and unmaintained section of the Tahoe to Yosemite trail North of Lake Alpine.
Our other long-distance Northbound option is to remain on the standard PCT route to and through Ebbetts Pass on our way North to the Carson Pass.
We also have the option of hiking down the Highland Trail from Wolf Creek Pass to Lake Alpine to resupply and eat, and then hitch the 14 miles East up to Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 to continue our Northbound hike on the PCT.
I've done about every variant of this maneuver.
All are outstanding, some are great...
All Around Options
The Highland Creek Trail from Jenkins Canyon up to the PCT at Wolf Creek Pass is the first of four trails that link the Pacific Crest Trail to the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail on their routes across the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
These trails are, from North to South, the Highland Creek, Arnot Creek, Disaster Creek, and Boulder Creek trails.
We can utilize these connector trails no matter where we begin our Carson Iceberg Wilderness backpacking trip. The Carson Iceberg offers access from the North via Highway 4, the South via Highway 108, and the East off of Highway 395.
Besides these main routes in, we also have Clarks Fork Road accessing the Southern interior of the Carson Iceberg off of Highway 108.
We can start from any trailheads around the perimeter of the Carson Iceberg and loop back using various combinations of the main and connector trails.
The PCT, TYT and these four connector trails are our main options for hiking around the Carson Iceberg Wilderness. What you do with them is up to you. I suggest that you explore them all in expanding circles as your skills and fitness grow.
See you Out There!
Spicer Reservoir up Highland Creek
Highland Creek via Highland Lakes to Wolf Creek Pass