Red Slate Mountain from McGee Creek

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August 21, 2009

Trip Summary

A dayhike from the McGee Creek Trailhead to the summit of Red Slate Mountain. The hike was bookended by soaking and maintenance work at Shepherds Hot Spring.


McGee Canyon nearly matches Convict Canyon for spectacularly colored geology. The canyon is fairly gentle, unlike Convict Canyon, so there are substantial meadow and conifer forest sections in the 10 miles to McGee Pass. McGee Creek is also less rambunctious, and all the crossings have good bridges. Once you approach Little McGee Lake, the character changes to a barren slate talus canyon, with the trail alternately traversing and switchbacking upwards. Walking on the slate-y sections of both the trail and summit route is remarkably loud, reminding one of tromping around on a pile of shattered cast iron!

From the Pass, the use trail to the summit is clear when it needs to be...steep but not horrible, and it stays Class 2 to the summit without any particular exposure. The views from the top are absolutely spectacular, as Red Slate is a local high point.

Weather and Conditions

The weather was sunny and warm. I avoided the heat in the morning by making a relatively early start, despite predicted (thunder)showers, the sky was cloudless until I reached the summit, and only a few drops fell when I reached the trailhead on my return. The lower part of the hike out was hot, but not unbearable.

The McGee Creek Trail is in very good condition, and is very well designed...the lower section up to the Steelhead Lake Trail is the old road to the Scheelore Mine. The use route up the South Ridge of Red Slate Mtn is generally obvious where the ridge is narrow, but obscure where the slopes are broad.

About 22.5 miles (about 2 miles cross-country), 5400 feet of ascent (1300 feet cross-country), 8:10 on the trail. Bunnyhike rating: 129


Red Slate

Panoramas from some scenic points on the hike

Meadow below Big McGee Lake
A meadow below Big McGee Lake
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Big McGee Lake
Big McGee Lake
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Red Slate Mtn - summit panorama
Red Slate summit panorama
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South Wall of the Lower Canyon
South Wall of the Lower Canyon
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Sunset from the Hot Spring
Sunset from the Hot Spring
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Area maps, route in blue

Map with route
Detailed Map (250K)

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Red Slate Mtn / Robert Parks / / revised Aug '09