Moderate hike to Ostrander Lake stone ski hut

Mountain Secrets

Tony KrizanJune 5, 2013 

Two years ago I wrote about Ostrander Lake and the advantages of cross country skiing to its remote location during the winter months. This past May I hiked from the trailhead on Glacier Point Road and followed its trail for over six miles to the rustic stone hut that stands above the lake on the north shore.

This moderate hike is mostly level for three miles following through a few meadows and a portion of the Bridalveil Creek. After the second junction the trail will start increasing in elevation from 7,000 feet at the trailhead to around 8,500 feet at the Ostrander Stone Ski Hut.

Along the trail are the signs of our wilderness forest healing from the catastrophic fire that burned this mountain during the 1990s. Those small saplings along the trail a few years ago are now four to eight feet tall pine trees. The wild flowers may be late this year, so a hike this month will surprise you with late spring colors. Even though 50% of the hike will be in the shade of the mountain forest, don't forget your sunscreen.

Just before reaching the hut, look toward the east and walk in that direction 50 yards to experience the great views of the Clark Mountain Range.

The Ostrander two story stone hut was built in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It sleeps 25 skiers with stove, bunk beds and solar lighting. During the winter months a park attendant is on duty at the hut. Unfortunately for the summer hiker this hut is locked after snow season, but reopens after the first major snow fall.

Ostrander Lake is the head waters of the Bridalveil Falls which was originally called Pohono Lake along with the Pohono Trail. For the fisherman this lake also has a great number of 10 to 12 inch Rainbow trout.

The lake was named after Harvey J. Ostrander, a descendant of Alexander Ostrander of 1783 from Smithfield New York. Harvey arrived in the 1860s during the California gold rush.

He built his log cabin at the junction of Glacier Point and Mono Trails. A short distance from this geographic location is the Bridalveil Creek. Less than a quarter mile northwest is the famous Ostrander Rocks and to the south only three plus miles is Ostrander Lake.

Whatever season you choose to hike or cross country ski into this wilderness area of Yosemite, you will not be disappointed in this adventure.

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