BLACKHAWK MOUNTAIN (10,348') CLASS 1
Location: 9 miles SSW of Sonora Pass
Drive: Take Highway 108 to the Kennedy Meadows Road, 7 miles west of Sonora Pass, or 10 miles east of the junction with the Clark Fork Road. Turn south and go 0.5 mile on narrow, paved road to the signed USFS "Kennedy Meadows Trailhead Parking" on the left. There is a stone outhouse and room for about 50 cars.
Climb: Take the signed trail on the south end of the lot marked, "Wilderness 1 1/2 miles." This descends quickly to the paved, narrow road to the Kennedy Meadows Resort. Follow this road south, and walk through the village past the restaurant and store. Come to a private, parking lot signed, "Overnight Parking with Permission Only." Continue fifty yards south to a gate and rock barring further motorized travel. This point is about ten minutes walking time from the USFS parking lot. Continue south on this dirt road over a small hill, past another gate and water tank. A sign here marks "Night Gap Trail, Rough Trail" to the left (east). Walk south on the main dirt road through Kennedy Meadows itself, and in a mile from the start, pass a signboard erected by the Resort. In 100 yards come to another signboard placed by the USFS to mark the start of the trail. In about a half mile, cross a bridge. Go left, following the "trail" sign. Climb up to a wide ledge trail cut into the cliffs, in a spectacular gorge and then cross another bridge. Note the side trail a bit further, leading back to the left, for your return (do not take). In three miles from the start, come to a junction signed "Kennedy Lakes Relief Reservoir Kennedy Meadows." Follow the trail right. Pass the PG&E cabin signed "elevation 7,000." In another half mile from the junction, obtain a view of the reservoir and dam.The trail descends a bit. Cross a small stream and pass a post signed "Site Restoration No Camping." In 6 miles from the start, come to another junction signed "Lower Relief Valley Lunch Mdw Kennedy Mdw." Go left. After another two and a half miles or so, pass another post on the right, 50 feet off the trail, signed "Site Restoration No Camping." About a few hundred yards past this point one can take a more direct, cross country route to the peak. Otherwise, continue on the trail. The trail switchbacks up through granite shelves, then drops a bit to the sight of the large, open, sagebrushy area known as Lunch Meadow. Leave the trail here, and go cross-country right (south) to the granite ridge. Cross the stream after a few feet, and scramble up class 2 slabs, gaining the ridgetop. Head up southwest, staying on or to the left (southeast) of the bare ridge, picking a route up the rocks. Pass the sub-peak 10,115' on its immediate left (south), then drop 100' to a saddle, and head for the obvious summit to the southwest. It will not be as far as it looks.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: Highway 108 is not plowed, so taking Route A would probably entail a weeklong tour. From the east, the road is plowed generally to Leavitt Meadows.
TRIP STATS: 4400' gain, 11 miles one way, with an additional 400' gain on the return.
Notes: Other nearby peaks rise higher, but this is the SPS listed peak. Many backpacking opportunities are available, with good camping possible at many points along the way. From about a mile past Saucer Meadow, a cross-country, class 1-2 route is navigable past small lakes up to the north slopes of the peak. Connect through the lower Lewis Lakes and the Blackhawk Lakes. Also, a cross-country route from Mosquito Pass to the east looks easy.