Forestdale Divide Loop


Summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 7.4 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
7800 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1650, -1650 feet
Navigation Road, marked trail and map
Time Most of a day
Season Late November through April
Snowmobiles Not permitted when sufficient snow is present at the Hope Valley Sno-Park at Blue Lakes Road for snowmobiling. This means that the area is closed to snowmobiles nearly the entire snow season. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass
Start Red Lake parking area on Highway 88, 2.3 miles east of Carson Pass.


Description

The terrain you descend along the return from Forestdale Divide described in this loop tour is much different than the terrain in the Forestdale Creek drainage. The loop descends gradually before dropping abruptly into a canyon where you find yourself following a narrow, wooded drainage back to Forestdale Creek. It's a delightful change from the big bowl of the Forestdale Creek drainage for those up to the challenges.

The entire Forestdale Creek drainage, including Forestdale Creek Road, is closed to snowmobile use during most of the winter-spring months since February 2008. This is the result of the Alpine County Winter Recreation Project and the ceaseless efforts of the volunteers of Snowlands Network and other organizations.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.6
Elevation change: +250, -100 feet

Locate Forestdale Creek Road and the trailhead (1) at the low end of the Red Lake parking area and ski south on the road for 1.6 miles until you reach the bridge across Forestdale Creek (2). There will be a meadow to the east (left) of the route for the first half-mile. Past the meadow you will climb gradually. Beyond the crest of the climb it is a short downhill run to the creek.

Miles: 1.6 - 3.0
Elevation change: +950 feet

Cross the bridge at Forestdale Creek and climb south on the side-slope approximately where the summer jeep road is located, but not visible, for 1.4 miles until you reach Forestdale Divide (3). As you approach the divide veer to the west (right) of where the road is shown on the map in order to stay out of a potential avalanche zone.

Miles: 3.0 - 3.9
Elevation change: -600 feet

Ski northeast over level terrain until you begin to descend into a drainage; then descend and loop northeast, east and then southeast for a total of 0.9 mile until you reach a point above a very steep drop (4).

Miles: 3.9 - 4.1
Elevation change: -250 feet

Descend the very steep drop to the east for 0.2 mile until you reach the point where two creeks join (5).

Miles: 4.1 - 4.8
Elevation change: -450 feet

Descend the drainage slightly east of north for 0.7 mile until you reach level terrain just to the south of Forestdale Creek (6). In this section the best route might cross back and forth across the creek. However, you want to be on the west side of the creek you descend when you reach Forestdale Creek if there is any chance that you will have trouble getting to the west side once you reach Forestdale Creek.

Miles: 4.8 - 5.8
Elevation change: +350 feet

Ski slightly north of west and finally northwest for a total of 1.0 mile until you reach the bridge across Forestdale Creek (2).

Miles: 5.8 - 7.4
Elevation change: +100, -250 feet

Retrace the route for 1.6 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour