We did a day hike starting at Wolverton which combined the Lakes Trail...Panther Gap...and Alta Peak. Round trip, it was about 13.4 miles and 4000 feet vertical. It was a challenging but rewarding day hike.
Starting at Wolverton, the Lakes trail was all in forest, with a very gradual incline. We found this part of the trail to be fairly easy. In meeting with Panther Gap, there was the option to continue to the lakes (another hiker went that way) - but we continued towards Alta Peak.
Once atop Panther Gap - this trail became sensational with views! After a mile or so on the trail after Panther Gap, we were back in the woods until we met up with the Alta Peak/Alta Meadow junction. I suppose it is worth going to the meadow if you are not up for the challenging peak; at this point, it was about 4.5 or so miles and 2000 vertical feet (relatively smooth).
After this point, Alta Peak gets vertical. Another 2000' feet in 2.1 miles with even more steepness at the end. While we were tired, it was an absolutely breathtaking hike and I would do it again. You do need to be prepared with water and food - it is a difficult day, but there is no technical climbing needed to reach this peak.
Once you are at the top, you retrace your path back down. On a weekday in September, we saw only one other hiker past Panther Gap. Oddly enough, going back towards the lakes trail, we found that same hiker that we had met on the way in. He was then heading the direction we just came from for some overnight backpacking.
Happy trails! There is only a pit toilet at the Wolverton trailhead...be prepared ladies!
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