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Doubletop Mountain, 17 July, 2016

What can I say. Sometimes it takes a village. Our trip to Doubletop Mountain this Sunday, via the Steep Hollow trail was mercifully co-led by everyone who dared make the trip: Kris & Ron., Dave P., Dan, Marissa, Alex, Chris, Dave W., Jane, Fred, Nikolai, and Stephanie, trip leader. It was a known factor that this route was not well-traveled except by the cows that march to the beat of their own trail system thereby confusing the rest of us, and that any trail we did find would be at best "unmaintained"– and at least most of that was true!

Starting up the Steep Hollow trail head from Franklin Basin Road, we were able to follow the trail fairly well through the cow paths to meet up with the road, which was easily followed until we turned off toward Doubletop Mountain. The trail was obvious for a while, wandering through the tall subalpine firs and wild flowers like columbine, Jacob's ladder, Richards geraniums, potentilla, and varieties of penstemon. The fun started when downed trees on the visible trail forced us to do some re-routing. Either the cows or other hikers had done the same, creating a series of paths and leading us to wander here and there attempting to find the right one that would lead us to the meadow below Doubletop.

With the help of all the hikers and several GPS units, we finally dropped into the meadow and looked around at the steep sides of the bowl surrounding it, and Doubletop Mountain perched on top. High on a tree looking into the meadow was a memorial for Larry Burch, who we later learned was an avid snowmobiler who had a heart attack while adventuring, and his family chose to honor him out in the wilderness that he loved. With no trail to be seen, everyone picked their own best route up the steep slope: some choosing a long angled switch back to the lowest saddle, other taking a more direct route, or heading straight up for a ways before traversing horizontally to the saddle.

Anyway you tackled it, the going was tough! But the final push to summit Doubletop was easily accomplished compared to that -- too short even to really look for the small, bunny-like pikas we were so hoping to see! And spanning views from the top were worth it! We stopped for lunch and photos, of course. A group of hikers from Preston had set up a registry at the top, and we proudly added the Cache Hikers to the book! We all agreed that going down the same way we came up was probably not the best idea, and after consulting the GPS, Dave P. and Nikolai scouted an old trail down that turned out to be too steep and washed out to be a great option.

From our perch on Doubletop, we could really see the lay of the land and decided to follow the ridge to the south as it sloped more gently down, and find our way back to the path we came up using the GPS units to guide us. Best decision we made all day – by far the best route! Still a bit steep, but not nearly as loose footing, we found a game trail or possibly a foot path leading back down, and were able to follow it fairly easily to meet up with our track. As many hikers noted, we were in new territory, and while some were a bit nervous about the excitement of the new adventure, others remarked that it was just that: an exciting, new adventure.

Trip Summary:

  • Organized carpools and drove 20 miles to the Steep Hollow trail
  • Started hiking about 9:00
  • Lunch on the peak, 12:55 - 1:55
  • 4:25 at the trailhead and Logan about 5:20
  • Sunny skies with a mild breeze
  • 8.2 miles with about 2700 feet of elevation gain

Thanks for to Stephanie for narrative,and Dave W. for photos and GPS work, and special thanks to Stephanie for leading this trip after the original leader had to cancel.

Hiking without a trail to follow


Making our way up a rocky slope on our way to the ridge
Lost camera Lost camera
We found a camera near Doubletop that had been lost since 2011. Thanks to Facebook and these photos from the memory card, we were able to send the camera back to its owner.


A short rest on the ridge before proceeding up to the peak(s)

Hiking up the ridge near the north peak of Doubletop
Snow Lunch
Snow and buttercups near north Doubletop Lunch on south Doubletop
On top of Doubletop (south)
Wasp Spider
Wasp nest Spider
Burch Box
Memorial Registry box



Whipple's penstemon Phlox Tiny trumpet Giant gentian
Ranunculus Penstemon Penstemon Zygadenus
Snow buttercup Leonard's penstemon ? Wasatch penstemon Mountain death camas
Our GPS track shows 8.2 miles and about 2700 feet of elevation gain

You can also look at our route using Google Earth or the various map and aerial views of Google Maps, or download our GPS file.