Backpack Mt. Williamson from Shepherd Pass

Rate this Adventure Los Angeles Mount Williamson Trailhead

Added by Jack Brumbaugh

You will hike for about 3-5 days with a Relatively isolated climb and some Class 3+ scrambles to the Second highest peak in California. There is Wildlife, with Easy water access for a fairly Isolated for a California 14er with Little bear concern.

This trail starts at the lowest, and generally regarded hardest, trailhead in the Southern Sierras. You quickly gain elevation in what many describe as manageable but relentless. The first section of the hike has nice shade and adequate water access. Very enjoyable company to boot!

Once you cross over Shepherd pass ~12,200', the scenery changes. What was once tree covered and well carved becomes barren and difficult to follow. The route requires talus scrambling (Class 2) and progress is slow. However, you are rewarded with Williamson Bowl, surrounded by two beautiful 14ers. Once in the bowl, you can make camp lakeside and prepare for the talus haul that is Mt. Williamson.

The first half of the climb requires route finding and second half of the climb requires...more route finding. You climb up a talus draped couloir (Class 2) until you reach a Class 3+/4 chimney. While many guidebooks often refer to this as Class 3, I believe this measure is inaccurate and leads many groups to attempt the climb unprepared (bearing in mind that you are well above 14,000' at this point in your climb).

Once through the chimney, you are rewarded with a breathtaking summit plateau, which is quickly met with the harsh reality that a talus ridge still stands between you and the proper summit. However, the ridge is easily tackled and should be over in less than 20 minutes. Ascend the ridge and you are greeted with a big cairn, register, and knowledge that you, Norman Clyde, and a relatively small number of people (for such a high peak in the US), are enjoying the amazing view from atop the second highest peak in California.

Pack List

  • Usual backpacking gear for 3-5 days
  • 30 degree or colder bag
  • Trekking poles
  • Tough boots
  • Rope / Slings
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

20 Miles

Elev. Gain:

8000 Feet

Features:

Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve Trail

Los Angeles / Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Trailhead

The most popular point of entry is through the Victory Trailhead, which has ample parking. You can park on the street or you can pay $3 to park at the trailhead parking lot.

Tori Marsh
4 Saves

Hike to the Teepee in the San Gabriel Mountains

Los Angeles / Cross Town Trail (Harten Lane)

Hidden in the small community of La Canada, California, the trailhead is pretty hidden! From the 210, take the exit for Highway 2/Angeles Crest Highway.

Tori Marsh
10 Saves

Hike Sunday Peak

Los Angeles / Sunday Peak Trailhead

This short and easy summit is located just outside of Kernville, California. To get there, follow Highway 178 towards Kernville and turn left on Highway 155 towards Wofford Heights.

Rachel Davidson
7 Saves