Sherman Peak as seen from the Sherman Pass Road
Sherman Peak, elevation 9,909 feet, is on the eastern side of Sequoia National Forest on the edge of the Kern Plateau. It affords tremendous 360 degree views of the Great Western Divide, the Sierra Crest including Mt. Whitney, Langley, and Olancha, and a bird's eye view of the Kern River Canyon and Little Kern River drainage. It is no wonder it was once the site of a fire lookout, but today only a few radio transmitters are on the top.
Olancha Peak as seen from Sherman Peak
I've been wanting to hike to the top of Sherman Peak for a while now. The Forest Service has 6 webcams mounted up there and nearly everyday I check to see what the view is like from up there. The webcams provide invaluable information on weather besides just providing an amazing view. If you check the webcams today you will see snow, snow, snow, and the road to the trailhead is probably impassable or closed outright. But yesterday, I can attest, there was no snow to speak of (only a couple of tiny patches in the shady areas), and it was blue sky and sunshiney and not too cold or windy. When we started hiking at 9:30 it was 32 degrees but by the time we hiked to the top we were plenty warm. When we got back to the trailhead it had warmed up to a respectable 40 degrees. By late afternoon, though, the weather was expected to change. There was a snow warning for the area from 6:00 pm on.
Farewell Gap and the Great Western Divide as seen from Sherman Peak
I planned this trip with the Kern River Valley Hiking Yahoo Group. I recently discovered this group and they seem like a great group of folks that hike all over the Southern Sierra. Originally a bunch of people were interested in hiking up Sherman with me, but in the end only one other person met me at the trailhead yesterday. That was Ted and he proved to be a great hiking partner. He had hiked up the peak before, indeed he's hiked up most peaks in the area, following suggestions from Jenkins' book "Exploring the Southern Sierra". I own the book, too, and it's an invaluable reference.
View south down the Kern River Canyon from Sherman Peak
The trail up to Sherman Peak is a nice one. It is 5 miles round trip and climbs about 700 feet. Most of the elevation gain is at the end but the trail switchbacks so it's not too steep. Along the way you'll pass through a beautiful red fir and western white pine forest. We didn't see much wildlife on that cold day except for one deer bounding away from the trail where we startled it. There are many interesting rock piles along the way that would make for some fun scrambling. This trail is suitable for hikers, horses, and adventurous mountain bikers.
Hiking up the Sherman Peak Trail with our goal in sight!
The trailhead is from the Sherman Pass Vista Point. Even if you don't hike the trail, the drive across Sherman Pass is pretty amazing. The pass is 9,200 feet and from there you can see Mt. Whitney, Mt. Langley, and Olancha Peak. There are a few campgrounds in the area and other trails leading to more peaks and areas to explore in the Golden Trout, South Sierra, and Domeland Wilderness areas. Definitely worth the journey!
Looking across to Sherman Peak from Parker Pass, it's hiding behind developing clouds that would soon drop snow on it
Link to live web cams mounted on various peaks in the Southern Sierra, 6 are on Sherman Peak! http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hnx/cameras.php
Also, a few more photos are on my website: http://www.tarol.com/shermanpeak.html
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com