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Peak(s):  Mt. Parnassus  -  13,574 feet
Bard Peak  -  13,641 feet
Date Posted:  09/25/2023
Date Climbed:   09/03/2023
Author:  RyanB06
 Parnasty and Bard Peak   

Distance: 9.37 mi

Elevation Gain: 4,377 ft

Time Hiking: 5 hours and 37 minutes

We arrived at Herman Gulch Trailhead at 4:50 am on Sunday morning. The lot was fairly full being labor day weekend but there weren't very many people on the trail and we only saw one person go before us.

In front of the trailhead before we began

We started up the trail at about 5 and continued straight until the Watrous Gulch junction. From there we continued following the trail where we got our first glimpse of Mount Parnassus at about 5:30 AM.

Watrous Gulch trail
Mount Parnassus from Watrous Gulch Trail

We followed the trail for a little longer before crossing our second landmark of our route, the river. To cross it we followed the rocks poking from the water just alongside the log fallen over the river.

Fallen log over the river

We followed the trail for a while longer before we stopped to rest, at this point we realized we missed our previous junction and continued down to the left instead of going up and to the right. We decided instead of turning back to just walk up the hill back up to our intended trail where we continued up Parnassus. This is where it started to get tough.

The trail we took a wrong turn on

The trail took us up to the treeline and was pretty well defined at this point, we could easily follow it but it was steep and fairly tiring on this part.

The trail headed up Parnassus

Not long after the first steep portion of the hike the ground leveled out and the trail ended. This was at the bottom of the saddle between Woods Mountain and Mount Parnassus. There was a small cairn near the trail and looking up Woods another trail was obvious, but there was no such trail up towards Parnassus.

Looking up Parnassus from the saddle

We began our hike up Parnassus at 6:51 AM. To pick our route up we simply looked towards the top of the mountain and followed a pretty much straight line up the mountain avoiding the large rolling dips and bumps on the face walking up. The hike was very easy but horrifically strenuous and definitely was one of the most exhausting hikes I've done.

As we got closer to the top the tundra grass gave way to slightly rockier terrain but nothing much larger than small stones and pebbles.

Looking back down towards the saddle and Woods Mountain
Slightly higher up Parnassus looking towards Wood Mountain
Looking up Parnassus

After passing the giant green hill it flattens out a lot more, but you aren't quite at the summit yet. At this point there are some much larger rocks but they are easily walked over or around. From here you also get many great views.

Right before where Parnassus begins to flatten out
Looking back at where we came up Parnassus

After one of the most exhausting hikes we reached the top of Mount Parnassus (13580) at 7:50 AM, about 3 hours into our hike. The views were great and so was the weather but we were only about halfway through our hike and from here we had to continue towards Bard Peak, but first some summit pics.

Looking into the valley from Parnassus
Looking around, Bard Peak in the background on the far left

After our quick rest and snack break we continued the way we were before. The trail from there dipped down suddenly and began down Parnassus. The trail her was nothing like the way up the green grassy slope. It was far rockier and looser terrain, however I didn't feel like I'd slip and fall any dangerous amount. On our way to Bard we ended up going down lower than we did on the way back which worked fine for us and was honestly easier.

Looking towards Bard and the route we took from Parnassus
Picture of the clear trail down Parnassus towards bard
Rockier terrain, the trail is still clear
As we moved further towards Bard the rocks got larger and the trail less clear

After hiking down Parnassus and to the saddle between Parnassus and Bard the terrain once again flattened out to the familiar green slope, however it was far easier. From here it was a clear walk up Bard that we were able to crush in a fraction of the time it took us to get up Mount Parnassus.

Looking ahead you can see the easy green trail up Bard Pk.
Looking over the ridge partway up Bard
Looking up towards the peak of Bard
Right before the summit of Bard

We summited Bard Peak (13647) at about 9:15am. We rested for about 15 minutes before we started our descent back down the mountains.

From the peak of Bard
Looking down over the top of Bard

The hike down was a little more eventful however. We made good time across the saddle between Bard and Parnassus as well as on our trip down Parnassus itself. It was at the bottom of Parnassus's green hill when trouble began. One of my friends ended up rolling his ankle, very minorly, from here on he rolled it two more times. Me and my other buddy carried home down by his shoulders until he was feeling good enough to walk again. If that wasn't enough about halfway down Watrous gulch the rain came. Luckily however it was brief and we were able to make it back to our car before we got soaked.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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