Red Slate Mountain was meant to be a run in Sierra Trail Runs : A Guide to the Eastside. But, during the making of the book, it got pushed back until it was too late. The curtain dropped early for our 2021 season with October snowfall.

As a result, running Red Slate sat at the top of the list for fall 2022. When we finally got to it, it didn’t disappoint. In fact it’s a brilliant run and easy peak climb that needs mention, a kind of freebie from us.

Getting going in McGee Canyon with lots to look at

For Red Slate, fall is especially magical as McGee Canyon is a wild mix of orange and yellow with crazy swirls of rock on the surrounding walls. 

The run starts at the end of the road at the McGee Campground and Trailhead. Flattish opening miles on smooth trail let you find your rhythm until you begin a steeper climb at about 8 miles in. It’s a perfect mix of trail running and power hiking.

Sweet singletrack in abundance
Headed for McGee Pass with a color buzz

At Big McGee Lake, the trail turns north and becomes rockier as you make your way to McGee Pass right at the base of the Red Slate climb.

From McGee Pass, there’s a faint use-trail up the open slope. Basically, head up the most direct and obvious line and you’ll eventually hit the use trail that leads to the summit of Red Slate. With each step, views open up to Mt. Baldwin, Bloody Mountain, Lake Dorothy and all the wild colors that are not typical Sierra granite views. 

Rocky trails to McGee Pass
The wide open slopes to the summit of Red Slate
The final ridge to the top of Red Slate with views of color

In descent, reverse your route and enjoy fast downhilling all the way to the car.

Not many descents are as smooth as Red Slate
The final, vibrant steps to the car in McGee Canyon

Red Slate Mountain

Trailhead : McGee Creek

Distance : 21 miles Vertical : 5640 feetDifficulty : Medium, Long but good trail