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Manter Meadow Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  3.0 ( 1 ) Favorite

Trail

9.3 mile 15.0 kilometer loop
90% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,396' 425 m
Descent: -1,385' -422 m
High: 8,268' 2,520 m
Low: 7,066' 2,154 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)

Dogs

Off-leash
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Trail shared by Lee Watts

From Big Meadow, loop around the beautiful Manter Meadow, with views of surrounding domes, and then return.

Lee Watts

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Wilderness permits are not required, but you need a campfire permit if you plan to have a campfire. Pets are allowed so long as they are under control and do not harass the wildlife.

Overview

The deep green Manter Meadow is the largest meadow within the Domeland Wilderness. It is located at the south end of the Sierras, where the snow melt occurs much earlier than farther north. It is best in the spring or early summer when other areas are inaccessible. There are some good campsites at the meadow and great views across the meadow towards the surrounding rock formations.

The South Manter, Cabin Spur, Woodpecker and North Manter trails can be combined to create a 9-mile loop that leaves Big Meadow, goes around Manter Meadow, and returns. Manter Meadow could also be used as a base camp for runs to any of the nearby rock formations: Church Dome, Bart Dome, Knuckles, Fist, and others that are exotic, but unnamed. So few people visit the Domelands, that although this is one of the most popular spots, you may still have it entirely to yourself or you may see only one or two other groups passing through.

Some runs from a Manter Meadow base camp:

*Church Dome: about 5 miles roundtrip from the junction between the Cabin Spur Trail and the Woodpecker Trail #34E08.

*Woodpecker Trail past the Bart Dome, Fist, and Knuckles rock formations: about 6 miles roundtrip from the junction between the Woodpecker and North Manter trail junction.

*Woodpecker, Domeland, and off-trail section to view Bart Dome, Radian Dome, Stegosaurus Fin, and others: about 9 miles roundtrip from junction between the Woodpecker and North Manter trails.

Need to Know

A scroll-able topographical map showing all trails and roads in the wilderness can be found at: fs.usda.gov/recarea/sequoia ...

Note: you first have to scroll out first to find your area of interest and then scroll in to see the details for that area.

Description

From Sherman Pass Road, take the Cherry Hill Road #22S12 to Big Meadow and then take road #23S07 to the southwest side of Big Meadow. Both Cherry Hill Road and #23S07 are dirt roads suitable for most passenger cars. The trailhead for the South Manter Trail #34E37 is about 0.6 miles south of the trailhead for the North Manter Trail. It is distinguished by a small stock ramp and pen.

The South Manter Trail climbs about 100 feet over the ridge that separates the Salmon and Manter Creek drainages. It follows South Manter Creek, under a canopy of mixed conifers, until it ends at the Cabin Spur Trail #34E37A, just before Manter Meadow. Turn right on the Cabin Spur Trail and follow it around the south end of the meadow to the Woodpecker Trail #34E08.

Unlike the North Manter Trail and the north part of the Cabin Spur Trail, which both stay well away from the meadow, the south part of the Cabin Spur Trail and the Woodpecker Trail skirt the edge of the south and east sides of Manter Meadow. There are great views across the meadow towards the rock formations to the north and south. The best is probably the morning view from the south side of the meadow. There are some good campsites at Manter Meadow, but you'll probably want to pump your water from the creek before you reach the meadow.

The Woodpecker Trail goes up the east side of the meadow and crosses Manter Creek at the junction with the Manter Creek Trail-35E12. Farther up next to the meadow's narrow northern extension, there is a fire circle and a metal frame that was previously used for a large forest service tent. It is a few hundred yards from there to the junction with the North Manter Trail #34E14.

The North Manter Trail stays well to the west of the meadow. After about 0.3 miles, it is possible to run off trail about 0.25 miles to the west edge of the meadow where there is a beautiful view towards Church Dome. Parts of this side of the meadow are covered with blue lupine. The trail passes an old cabin and a spring and then meets the junction with the Cabin Spur Trail.

From there, the trail climbs about 1,100 feet in less than 2 miles. The ridge on the North Manter Trail is about 300 feet higher than it is on the South Manter Trail. For most of the climb you can hear the creek flowing below. From the ridge the trail drops down to the trailhead on road 23S07. Just across the road there is a good view of Big Meadow.

The South Manter trailhead is about 0.6 miles down the relatively level dirt road.

Flora & Fauna

Some sections of the meadow are covered with lupine. Some places on the dryer slopes south and west of the meadow are covered with millions of tiny colorful flowers, only 2-6 inches tall. Beware of rattlesnakes. It is good to use poles to check out rocks and logs before stepping over them. There are scattered herds of deer and occasionally you'll see a black bear or a bobcat. Mountain lions are present, but rarely seen.

History & Background

The Domeland Wilderness was created by the federal Wilderness Act in 1964, with additions in 1984 and 1994 so that it now has a total of 133,720 acres. The original portion of the Wilderness contains most of its many granite domes and geological formations.

The higher areas are covered with forest, but as you drop towards 7,000 feet, the trees are farther apart as the land becomes semi-arid. Farther east towards the South Fork of the Kern, it drops below 6,000 feet and becomes hotter and more desert-like.

The wild and scenic South Fork of the Kern crosses the wilderness. South of Rockhouse Meadow, it drops through deep and essentially inaccessible gorge. The South Fork, Fish Creek, and Trout Creek are excellent for fishing, but this often requires strenuous off-trail running. The river and these two creeks can be dangerous, to impossible, to cross until after the snow melt.

In the northeastern section of the wilderness, the Pacific Crest Trail follows the South Fork for 9 mi

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Photos

Manter Meadow in the late afternoon. On the right side, there is a sideways view of the Church Dome ridge. You have to leave the trail and hike closer to the meadows for this view.
Jun 18, 2019 near Weldon, CA

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