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black Red Spur Lakes Plateau Unmaintained Route


2.8 mile 4.6 kilometer point to point
89% Runnable


Ascent: 695' 212 m
Descent: -258' -79 m
High: 11,109' 3,386 m
Low: 10,663' 3,250 m


Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 51% (27°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Lee Watts

An off-trail route with extraordinary panoramas, beautiful lakes, and may be the remotest, desirable run in the Sierras.

Lee Watts

Features Lake · Swimming · Views

There is currently no evidence that anyone has ever been to this plateau. Let's keep it that way. Wilderness permits are required. There are daily quotas. Reservations fill early but 1/4th of the permits are first-come first-serve the day before you start.


This route is entirely off-trail, but requires no rock climbing skills, It requires good route-finding skills. Via the right route, there are no dangerous exposures. The Red Spur Lakes Plateau is entirely surrounded by the Red Spur and Kern and Colby Canyons. The described route is the only reasonable way in without rock climbing skills. It is rarely visited and probably has spots where no one has walked before. The plateau is covered with talus, but the route avoids most of it.

Coming from the gap above Picket Creek, once you cross Kaweah Basin Creek, find an easy way to wander southeast while slowly climbing towards the northern end of the Red Spur. From a point at about 10,800 feet and slightly past the large lake below, look for a rocky chute with some trees. Climb up about 250 feet in elevation to the top of the ridge at the end of the spur. There you'll find an extraordinary 180° panorama of the entire Kaweah and Picket Creek basins and the Colby Pass area.

Continue descending the ridge to the north until you find a good way to reach the small lake below. From the southeast end of the lake, run up the draw to the first large lake, which is much more beautiful and has great views across to Kern Point and the Sierra crest.

Continue southeast up a low ridge that passes between two small lakes. At the top, angle down to the east shore of another large beautiful lake with great views of the Red Spur. Somewhat before the far end of the lake, climb up the crest of the low ridge headed southeast. The top of this ridge provides a sweeping panorama of the main ridge of the Sierras from Junction Peak to well past Mt. Whitney, including several 14,000 ft peaks.

I call the area to the south the "Talus Wasteland". If you run down to the west a little ways, you have a view of what I call "Talus Lakes". About 15 years ago, my son and I reached this point by climbing from the Chagoopa Plateau over the southern end of the Red Spur. Once on top of the Red Spur, we made our way along the crest until we came to a ridge that brought us down to the plateau. We then run north across the talus. This is a shorter way in and you can make a loop by coming in over the Red Spur and going out via the Kaweah Basin, but you'll get very tired of talus.

You can also run to the point at the north end of the plateau, directly above Junction Meadow, or from the northernmost large lake, you could run up the ridge to the southwest to reach the highest lakes on the plateau.

Flora & Fauna

I saw no animal larger than a marmot on the plateau. It's almost all foxtail pines that remarkably seem to grow straight out of the granite.

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in Kaweah Basin


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