“A short but VERY steep climb to some of the best views in the Eastern Sierra.
— Matthew Storm
There are no restrictions for this hike, however, both Hwy 120 and the gravel roads that approach the trailhead close in winter due to snow. Because of this, the approach to the trailhead could be very long in winter and spring.
Although relatively unknown compared to other hikes in the Eastern Sierra, this short (but VERY steep) hike is one of the finest in the area. Much of the uniqueness of this hike is a result of the location of Glass Mountain. With its relatively isolated location between the Sierra and White Mountains, the views of both of these mountain ranges are quite unique.
In addition, Glass Mountain has great views of Mono Lake, Long Valley Caldera, Lake Crowley, Owens Valley, and Adobe Valley. Closer at hand, this mountain features an interesting volcanic landscape, with abundant deposits of obsidian (volcanic glass), which give the mountain its name. The remote location of this mountain and long drive on dirt roads to the trailhead also promises a degree of solitude that is rare along the 395 corridor.
There is no official trail to the summit of Glass Mountain. But, the summit can be reached by a very well-defined use trail. This trail starts out as a closed and relatively flat 4WD trail that dead ends after about 1/4 mile. After the 4WD trail ends, the trail turns into a very steep singletrack. After reaching a ridge, the trail becomes a little less steep. But things quickly become steep again as the trail starts to climb the ridge leading to Glass Mountain.
Near the top of the ridge, the trail becomes relatively level as it passes through scattered whitebark pines. It soon reaches a saddle before climbing steeply once again to the summit of Glass Mountain.
It is worth noting that most maps indicate the north summit of Glass Mountain as being the true summit. However, the south summit (where the trail leads) is actually higher. The north summit can be reached fairly easily by descending to the summit plateau, crossing it, and climbing up to the radio facility at the top. Although the views of Long Valley are certainly better from the south summit, the north summit is worth climbing in addition to the south summit for the better views of Mono Lake.
Flora & Fauna
The trail starts off in an open forest of jeffrey pine. As it ascends, lodgepole pine becomes more dominant. These are replaced by whitebark pines as the trail gets closer to the summit. As the trail approaches the summit, these whitebark pines become more scattered and stunted.