Yesterday I headed up to Nason Ridge via the Round Mountain trail. I had limited time (work to do + family dinner + winter storm forecast) so I decided I would try for Alpine Lookout but stick to my turnaround time like glue. Worst-case, I figured I’d still get some nice views along Nason Ridge. I ended up turning around a couple miles shy of the lookout, but as I’d hoped, I still had a great day in the mountains.
The road up to the trailhead was in OK condition. There were a few pretty big ruts, one of which actually required me to put my Highlander into 2nd gear. Fun stuff for my relatively staid SUV. The last 100 yards of the road have some ice and snow. I took it slowly and was fine.
I saw the tracks of at least one other vehicle up the road before me, and I was assuming the trail would be tracked out as well. However, it looks like the people in the other vehicle just drove up and turned around without getting out of their car. As with the Blue Lake trail, my tracks were the first human prints in the snow.
That said, there were plenty of deer that went before me, as well as a mountain lion.
There was just a light dusting of snow in the parking lot, but coverage gradually increased as I ascended to the ridge. By the time I reached the junction of Round Mountain and Nason Ridge trail, snow on the trail was approximately 4-6 inches deep. As I wandered further along (and up) the ridge, the snow deepened. I turned around approx 1.5 miles west of the Round Mtn/Nason Ridge trail junction, at which point the snow was ~1-2 ft deep.
I also noticed some surface hoar along the ridge. Something to keep in mind for those who head up to Nason Ridge in the future.
A couple quick notes about gear: I carried traction devices (Kahtoola microspikes) but didn’t need them. I did not bring snowshoes, because they didn’t really offer me much flotation in all the fresh snow at Blue Lake last week. It turns out that they would’ve been very helpful up on Nason Ridge, where there was 4-6 inches of fresh powder over a slightly crusty deeper layer. Without snowshoes, I kept punching through the deeper layer up to my knees. If you’re thinking of attempting this trail anytime soon, I recommend snowshoes.