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When we first climbed Mt. Powell by using this approach in 1994, the Piney River Trail (#1885) stayed low in the valley past the lake and then gradually gained above the valley bottom, passing through marshes, until it took you to the turn in the valley to the south. This is what the 1970 USGS map shows. But the trail has since been revised so that now, the trail from the near the resort begins to gain elevation shortly after the lake. You probably gain a minimum of 400 feet with several switchbacks, before the trail then drops you back down nearly 200 feet toward the Piney River, where it crosses some rocky outcrops that form some nice cascades for the river below. Do not accidentally get misled onto Trail #1889 that takes off to the left not too far past Piney Lake. That trail goes to the Soda Lakes.

From where the trail has dropped down closer to the Piney River, hike on upstream a little more until you locate a large cairn marking a trail that turns off on the left and leads up to the basin below Mt. Powell and Peak C. This trail intersection is in a nice forested area and even without the cairn, the trail is quite visible. (On our visit here, someone deliberately knocked down the cairn while we were camped up above.) It was approximately 3.2 miles from the parking area  The only thing confusing about it is the initial direction it takes, first heading north and switchbacking west before turning abruptly east to climb steeply into the aforementioned basin. This particular trail starts out easy enough to follow, but after a few hundred feet of gain in the forest, it crosses into some highly vegetated areas where it becomes easily lost in the abundant corn lilies, willows, Queen Anne’s Lace, and assorted other flowers. It is very steep through here and a struggle with full packs.

After a somewhat swampy section, the trail becomes more visible again as it makes a very steep gain up an open bench. At the top of this, it finally relents in the steep gain and you may pass an early, but small campsite in some open trees to the right. We wanted to get closer to our two peaks we would climb from here though, so we continued on, sweating freely in the morning sun as we crossed through more open meadows and made one more gain to the west end of the upper basin. This basin that lies at about 11,225 ft., is bordered on the south by the steep slope of a great, rock glacier. It is a relatively flat area of a few acres, with a pleasant stream flowing through, abundant flowers, and surrounded by dramatic peaks, Peak C taking center stage because of its towering appearance above. We arrived here in about 3.5 hours from the trailhead and immediately set up tents as we were greeted by first three, and then a small herd of mountain goats. We had to keep an eye on them as we set things up and were concerned they might take off with some of our gear, but they were mostly just interested in our urine. This campsite makes a very good location to launch off for Mt. Powell, Eagle's Nest and Peak C, all of which can be climbed in just a few hours from this location, with Eagle's Nest taking the longest.

For a Peak G approach, return to the trail junction near the Piney River. From that junction, stay on the Piney River Trail as it turns to the SE. This trail was fairly easy to follow for the next 1.5 mile but then does not receive much use so it begins to fade out. The USGS map shows it abruptly terminating in an open meadow at about 10,260 ft.  Trails Illustrated shows it as an unmaintained trail. Some recent reports we have seen indicate to us that the FS may be attempting to close this section of trail. Those reports indicate is may be blocked and difficult to spot now. In 2006, we began to lose the trail where the USGS map shows it to terminate, however, the Trails Illustrated map shows it continuing all the way to Upper Piney Lake. That map shows the trail staying on the north side of the river for much of the upper distance. For Peak G, you may want to pack up to near some coordinates provided below for a possible campsite to climb Peak G from. Or you could ditch backpacks back at the earlier trail junction and complete Peak G as a "day hike" from that junction. The coordinates we're providing are in an open meadow area that is close to where you would begin the ascent of Peak G. If you decide to try and backpack up the river, in 2006 we found one nice campsite, pretty much in the middle of the trail, just a few minutes beyond where the trail takes the turn to the south. About 3/4 mile farther, and up a steep section of trail followed by a bench, was another campsite that could accommodate multiple tents. The site we used was another 25 minutes past there.


Our preferred campsite is in the small basin described above. See the coordinates provided, however you may find others camped here as well. There are no trees close by.

Campsite Locations

11,225 Campsite N 39° 44' 57.28", W 106° 20' 51.01"
Elevation 11,225
Upper Piney River/Peak G Turnoff N 39° 43' 12.53", W 106° 19' 50.38"
Elevation 10,415 ft.
There may be some camping to the south across the Piney River.
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