Snowmobile into the Kaiser Wilderness

Mountain Secrets

Tony KrizanFebruary 29, 2012 

To start this adventure, depart from Oakhurst through North Fork to Auberry Road. Drive through Auberry then turn left at Route 168 and drive past Shaver Lake to Huntington Lake. Stop at Rancheria Enterprises General Store and snowmobile rental. Before one can experience this winter wonderland, you must first rent a snowmobile to start testing your skills following the groomed snow covered mountain road to Kaiser Pass.

Normally during January and February snow can accumulate up to three feet at Huntington Lake and more than 10 feet on Kaiser Pass. However these figures will change from year to year.

Follow the groomed road over three miles until reaching the forestry gate. At this point the road narrows to a single lane. Use caution while negotiating those winding curves leading to the summit. Along this route the old growth trees and natural rock formations add to the beauty of this pristine ride.

Just before reaching the summit at 9,184 feet, stop to admire the distant views to the valley below. Once at the pass and if the snow is under three feet, on the right is the memorial to three of the five sled dogs that pulled Jerry Dwyer snow sled during the 1920s. Their names were whisky, Babe and Trim. This is a remembrance to their countless hours of braving those winter conditions to bring mail and supplies over the pass from Huntington Lake.

Kaiser or Kayser -- both names are used locally. On the Bancroft map of 1882 it was originally called Kaiser Crest. The name remained unchanged until 1953 and then was accepted as Kaiser Ridge as we know it today.

If you can squeeze in an extra hour continue riding for another mile. On the left is a large meadow and if this area is not closed, this is an ideal play area.

Riding beyond this meadow on the mountain road will require additional riding skills. Before departing from Rancheria Enterprises ask if the road is passible by snowmobile beyond the meadow. Normally the snow plow for grooming stops just beyond the meadow.

If the road is clear of ice and snow drifts, one can ride another 30 miles round trip to the San Joaquin River. Directly across the river from Mono Hot Springs Resort are the natural hot tubs.

Remember you are on your own through a wilderness area that hasn't changed since the 1940s. Do not attempt this extended ride without someone familiar with the area. From past experience a "solo" ride to the hot springs is not advisable, for this is still a remote area of our wilderness.

Be safe and enjoy our precious wilderness over Kaiser Pass.

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