It’s official, Hoover Wilderness is my favorite wilderness hands down. The sky-scrapping peaks, the eastern Sierra foliage, the lack of people – amazing. The plan was to hike up Burt Canyon then head to Anna Lake for a night, descend back into the canyon then cross-country up and over the saddle to Molybdenite Canyon and pick up the trail, find a place to camp, and then hike out in the morning. We ended up being ambitious and hiked all the way out on Saturday, I recommend sticking with the original plan.
The first day we parked at the Burt Canyon trailhead near Obsidian Campground, since that’s where we’d be looping back to. If you’re just doing an out and back, drive to the gate and parking area at the private property boundary and shave off a couple miles of dirt road. We hiked up Burt Canyon which had great views from the start, hiking around the base of Mt. Emma then once we got to the Piute drainage we could see the end of the canyon to Flatiron Butte and snow-covered Hanna Mountain. Along the way we stopped to fish in Little Walker River and caught (and released) a few brook trout. Then we started up the canyon wall at the sign for Anna Lake where the trail was rather elusive, but perseverance was rewarded with this high-elevation lake. The day’s total was 8.7 miles starting at 7,673 feet, climbing to 10,594 feet.
At Anna Lake finding a tent spot was a bit tricky, bivy sites were abundant though. We did find a nice spot among the trees with a view of the lake. The shelter was nice as I think I was more wind-burned than sunburned. The next morning we took our time getting on the trail. Wildlife 4-8 tried to catch a golden trout – they weren’t interested in the fishing lure though – and I loosened up with some lake-side yoga.
On the way down from Anna Lake we decided to go cross-country since we had so much trouble keeping track of the trail the day before. Once we got to the bottom of the canyon we found a place to rock-hop across Little Walker River and started up the other side. We were aiming for the obvious saddle just to the north of a rock outcrop, while being sure to stay above the drainage. The ascent was no steeper than the previous day’s – stop and enjoy the view when you need to catch your breath. Once over the saddle we could look down Molybdenite Canyon to Mt Patterson, which is the view the whole way out.
Once up and over the saddle we headed down the canyon’s west wall, we found a suitable creek crossing and headed up the east wall in search of the trail – don’t do that. Once the trail appears it is close to the creek, which also has biting brook trout. After consulting the GPS we decided to descend to the creek following it out and an obvious trail randomly appeared out the grass. I’m not sure what kind of wild grass is growing in this canyon, but it grows fast! In quite a few places the grass would take over the trail and we wandered along until it reappeared. Look for wooden posts that guide the way in these sections. There are a few options for camping the second night, when you first get over the saddle or multiple places along the creek; we opted to hike all the way out though to get an early start on the drive home. That day ended up being 11.1 miles with a high point of 10,640 feet. As I mentioned earlier, I’d recommend camping the extra night.
Due to high elevation, it was unusual to get into this area so early in the season – mid-June – and that’s probably alright as I would not recommend it for season opener; nearly 20 miles with two ascents over 10,500 feet in two days was a bit much. Maybe it’s living at sea-level now, but I was having a hard time on the Anna Lake ascent, with some serious doubts about making it over the saddle the next day. However, going to bed at 7:00 pm and drinking my weight in water did wonders; I’m glad we completed the loop – the views were breath taking and wildflowers blanketed the ground.
For more information and a wilderness permit contact Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Bridgeport Ranger District: 760-932-7070. Since we were coming from the west side of the Sierras we were able to pick up our permit at Stanislaus National Forest’s Summit Ranger District, since Bridgeport was not on our route to the trailhead.
Be on the lookout for pika!