Monday, September 6, 2010

Stormy Peaks/Pingree/Signal Loop

The loop in red.

I have been wanting to do this loop for some time going from the Dunraven trailhead. Finally got it done today. Forgot the GPS but I estimate the distance at around 30 miles and the total climbing around 7500 feet. Really just two big climbs. The first over Stormy Peaks Pass (11,600 ft elev) and the second over Signal Mountain (11,200 ft elev). I took the loop in the clockwise direction since the North Fork trail offers some nice gradual uphill running to warm up on (even a little downhill to the river at the start).

I got up to Stormy Peaks Pass well before sunrise and experienced a nice little snow flurry. I think the days of snow-free trails up high are numbered. Soon after, I was able to turn off the headlamp and enjoy some nice trail and spectacular views as I descended about 5 miles down to Pingree Park. My first time on this part of the trail.

Overlooking Pingree Park

This loop requires a few miles of road running (it is dirt) from Pingree Park over to the Signal Mountain trailhead. Instead of running all the way to the trailhead at Pingree Park, I turned onto the trail for Twin Lake, cutting out a good chunk of the run on the main Pingree Park road.

Twin Lake Reservoir

The run up Signal Mountain from the North side is quite mellow the first few miles, but gets very steep on the last couple of miles to the top. Also, my first time on this trail as I have only come up the mountain from the South. It wasn't snowing on Signal, but the wind was nearly blowing me off the mountain. I met my first hiker on my descent from Signal. There were lots of cars at the trailheads, but I don't know where everyone was hiding.

I plan to explore a shorter loop option some other time. There is an unmarked trail that goes directly between Signal Mountain and Stormy Peaks. This trail is shown on old topo maps, but there are no signs for it.


  1. Rob - was just out that way this morning. Dunraven to Donner Pass (nice climb), by way of a wrong turn spur that faded to nothing requiring an annoying backtrack, then 3 miles rolling over to Signal Mtn trail, then up to summit and back down to Dunraven. Original plan was to tag Lookout from Donner before heading out to Signal, but wrong turn meant the Lookout tag had to be sacrificed. Next time. A surprising 6k on the day. Figure the wrong turn was about 800' which is about the same as the Lookout tag, so that double summit loop would probably be in the 18-20 mile range w/6k. A really solid workout - and of course great views from Signal.

    We really should get out and hit up a route together one of these days.

  2. I was thinking Donner Pass/Signal Mountain loop as an option this weekend too, but decided to sleep in a little later and run local. I've only gone as far as Miller Fork from Bulwark Ridge. I also saw where the trail from Donner Pass hooks up with the Signal Mountain Trail just a little below treeline on the North side. 18 miles and 6K seems a little high for that loop, even with a tag of Lookout, but I guess I gotta do it to find out. There are a couple of dead end spurs on the map. Would love hit some trails with you this fall. I have some in mind and will let you know.

  3. Dunraven to Donner Pass is 3,000'+, Lookout would take you to 4k+, then rollers to Signal are at least 700', climb up Signal is 800'. Maybe a touch under 6k, but not by much. The route I did on Sunday came in at 6,100' on my altimeter.

    And I can tell you all about the Miller Fork dead end spur: don't bother, although you could conceivably follow the creek all the way up to intersect with the Lookout/Signal mtn connector trail - but that would involve significant bushwhacking (not everyone's cup of tea).

  4. Rob,I'm planning to do this hike this summer and wondering if you have a larger, hi def image of that map?