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Warren Canyon Hike

We hiked a little visited canyon in the Tioga Pass to see yellow aspen and beautiful east side mountains.

Where: Hoover Wilderness Area, Inyo National Forest
Distance: 5.7 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 9,007′ – 10,307
Date: October 6, 2013
Maps: Falls Ridge, June Lake

Highlights: A rich mining history in this area is apparent as we followed the trail, which used to be an old road into the mines. In my research of the area, I was surprised to learn of Civil War history that related to the naming of this area. We were hoping to see some fall color and we saw a little but most was either slightly past its prime or the dry summer didn’t make the color pop. We were surprised to see the icy streams that still had ice in the afternoon.

Since Yosemite National Park was closed due to the Federal Government shutdown, we headed just outside the east side of the park to the Tioga Pass Area for our adventure. This sign was at the Tioga Pass entrance to the park.

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We drove east on Tioga Road until we reached the dirt parking lot on the south side of Tioga Road at the 9,000′ elevation marker sign.

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It is always a good omen when you see such nice color at the beginning of a hike right from your parking lot.

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We walked across the road to where the Warren Fork Trail began.

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The trail was well defined along the first few miles of our hike and we were surprised when the trail took us by a few campsites with picnic tables and bear boxes.

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Warren Canyon and Mt. Warren are named for General Kemble Warren (1820-1882), who was an army officer and topographical engineer. He collaborated with A.A. Humphreys (Mt. Humphrey is named after) in compiling a map of the trans-Mississippi West and publishing reports of the Pacific railroad surveys.

Warren graduated second in his class at West Point in 1850, was commissioned in the Engineer Corps, distinguished in the Battle of Gettysburg, and was a Brevet Major General in the Civil War and a Lieutenant Colonel in regular establishment.

Wikipedia states the following: “During the civil War, Major General Philip Sheridan, a key subordinate of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was so dissatisfied with Warren’s performance, he relieved him of his command. At the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865, Sheridan became enraged with Warren’s performance. He perceived that the V Corps moved too slowly into the attack and faulted Warren for not being at the front of his columns when Sheridan went to confront him. Warren in fact was handling dispositions of his divisions in a manner consistent with that of a corps commander, and the attack by the V Corps carried the day at Five Forks, arguably the pivotal battle in the final days against Lee’s army. Nevertheless, Sheridan relieved Warren of command on the spot.

Humiliated by Sheridan, Warren resigned his commission as Major General of volunteers in protest on May 27, 1865, reverting to his permanent rank as Major in the Corps of Engineers. He served as an engineer for seventeen years, building railroads, with assignments along the Mississippi River, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1879. But the career that had shown so much promise at Gettysburg was ruined. He urgently requested a court of inquiry to exonerate him from the stigma of Sheridan’s action. Numerous requests were ignored or refused until Ulysses S. Grant retired from the presidency. President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered a court of inquiry that convened in 1879 and, after hearing testimony from dozens of witnesses over 100 days, found that Sheridan’s relief of Warren had been unjustified. Unfortunately for Warren, these results were not published until after his death.”

Photo of General Kemble Warren from Wikipedia:

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Mt. Warren, 12,327′ tall, is the highest mountain east of Yosemite between Tioga Pass and Mono Lake, north of Highway 120, in the Hoover Wilderness. It was named by the Whitney Survey and it is on Hoffman and Gardiner’s map of 1863-1867. Back before the area of Tioga Pass carried that name, it was originally called MacLane’s Pass and Tioga Lake was originally called Lake Jessie by the early white settlers. The crest had an early name of Mount Warren Ridge.

We had originally planned to hike Warren Canyon, then try and make it to the top of Mt. Warren, but time got a little away from us and we decided to turn back, perhaps giving it another try down the road.

Our trail paralleled the Warren Fork, where we saw nice ice formations on this chilly morning.

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We followed the trail along the creek through a meadow area, gaining elevation. Photo by Gail Gilbert.

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The views of the rocky and colorful mountains surrounding this canyon were very nice, dotted with fall colors of yellow, orange and red.

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The willows and aspen had turned yellow but they were not really as vibrant as we would had hope for.

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We found a nice lunch spot on the side of Mt. Warren where we could take in the view and Debra Kincade captured this picture of our hiking gang.

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On the way back down the hill, we discovered a small group of yellow aspen along the Warren Fork with an amazing background of a colorful rock with even more colorful lichen on it.

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We had such a nice hike up Warren Canyon and once in the canyon, could see many more options to wander around and explore. I know that we will return another day because this area is such a beautiful place.

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