Glass Mountain by Jora Fogg
Collectively referred to as the Glass Mountains, the south summit of Glass Mountain is the highest point along the only transverse mountain range in the Eastern Sierra. The range is part of the Long Valley Caldera, which comprises lava domes, rhyolite, and obsidian flows. The summit of Glass is reminiscent of the alpine tundra summits of its western neighbors, but the views from Glass extend into the Great Basin and include the northern White Mountains, Mono and Crowley Lakes, the Adobe Valley, and the beautiful red rock walls of the roadless and rugged Dexter Canyon. Hiking Glass Mountain provides reprieve from the often-crowded trailheads of the Sierra and a chance to enjoy a well-earned summit in solitude.
In the past decade, some have discovered this eastern gem, and a class 1 use trail through old growth lodgepole, limber, and whitebark pine ascends to the summit. The trail begins along a closed 4WD road and climbs steeply along side a drainage to a small saddle at 9,880 feet. Behind you, easterly views of the Glass range start to appear. The route continues southwest and climbs steeply reaching tree line at a flat saddle where the summit comes into view. The trail is faint through this fragile tundra area, but the rest of the climb is visible to the east where there is a final section to the summit. The summit to your north with communication towers is 40 feet below where you stand and both summits are easily accomplished in one day.
To get to the trailhead, take Highway 120 east to the well-graded, signed Black Canyon Road. (mileage is 13.6 miles from Benton and 31.8 miles from highway 395 and 120 east junction). After 0.8 miles turn right at an intersection onto Sawmill Meadows Road and continue 6.6 miles to another intersection. Turn left to stay on Sawmill Meadows Road. After 3.2 miles, keep right and continue another 0.4 miles to a large downed log with pull out just before the road crosses an old fenceline. The old road and trail begins at this downed log and makeshift parking area for 3-4 vehicles. Note there are no trailhead signs. Another mile down the Sawmill Meadows Road is the Sawmill Meadows USFS campground, free with picnic table, outhouses and an old cabin. Camping options also exist before the trailhead parking, in aspen groves adjacent to the meadows. Respectively explore these aspens for arborglyphs and signs of human history, but please camp in established sites to preserve the area’s wild character. The Glass Mountain 7.5 minute quad and the Inyo National Forest Atlas are helpful for first timers to this area.