Monday, July 11, 2011

Crestline Trail Mega Loop

Really bad day to forget the camera.  I'm doing this one again in reverse soon.  It is among the best mountain runs I have ever done.  It had everything- long snow climbs, mud, river crossings, technical rock scrambling, sketchy trail and big commitment to finish.  There is some idyllic singletrack in there too.

The Route: Start at the Crestline TH off of Eastside Drive in McCall.  Climb steeply to 7100' to the junction of 108 and 109.  Make a right onto 108 and follow the nice trail to Fall Creek Saddle at 7850'.  Descend toward Lick Creek Road to the East, scrambling down steep granite ramps into a beautiful rocky cirque.  Pick up a trail that heads NE- angling left as you walk downhill.  A trail to Crystal Lake, popular among anglers, breaks off to the right, keep going on trail 108 to the TH on Lick Creek Road.

Head left (North) on LCR for about 1 mile to the Box Creek/ Black Lee TH.  Go left on Trail 110 and climb big time for 4 miles to a frozen col looking down on gigantic Box Lake.  Descend steep snow to the West (Left) shore and follow the shore to the lake's outlet on its NW corner.  The Trail continues heading NW to a cairned junction with the Crestline Trail.  Heading SW, I climbed a snowfield for 900 vertical feet to reach the crest. 

The trail on the crest was mostly obscured by the snow, so I just headed south, using occasional views of Jughandle Mountain for my bearing.  The terrain and scenery was spectacular.  As I lost some elevation a perfect ribbon of singletrack was exposed and I followed it for several miles passing Buck Lake and Squaw Lake and eventually reaching the trail junction near Blackwell Lake.  I made a right and finished the remaining 6 miles on familiar trail.  I had a cold soak in the creek at the bridge just before the trailhead, scubbing off the salt and grime.

The totals:  23.5 miles and 6500' of gain and loss.

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