This hike offers expansive views of the Granite Chief Wilderness, the Pacific Crest Trail between Sugar Bowl and Squaw Valley, and the breathtaking Royal Gorge of the North Fork of the American River (one of the deepest canyons in the western US).
This hike starts at the Hoelter Hall Trailhead, just off Soda Springs Rd. To get to the trailhead, drive south on Soda Springs Rd from Old Highway 40 (Donner Pass Road) until you see a small ‘Trailhead’ sign on the left side of the road and an open gate (if the paved road ends, you’ve gone about 200 yards too far). Turn left at the TDLT trailhead sign and continue to the parking area at the end of the access road. From the trailhead, hike straight past the kiosk and rocks at the end of the parking area. This trail is the Tiny Tim Ski Trail. Proceed SE on Tiny Tim until you arrive at a signed junction to Bill and Flora's Point. Turn right on the trail, a singletrack trail, and proceed for roughly 150 feet to where another trail, the Walter and Esther Hewlett Royal Gorge Rim Trail (RGRT) crosses the route. Turn right on the RGRT and descend to a large dirt road, Soda Springs Road.Turn right on this road and in about 200 feet you will se a step-through gate on your left. This is the portion of the RGRT that goes to Pt. Mariah
After the bridge, Sterling's Canyon is a rolling trail that continues south above the creek. A little over a mile from the parking area is a flat area that provides a beautiful overlook of Serena Canyon and the upper basin of the North Fork of the American River. At 1.4 mi from the parking area is a trail intersection with another Royal Gorge cross-country ski sign. The Sterling’s Canyon trail turns right up a short, relatively steep hill. Go straight at this intersection, leaving Sterling’s Canyon trail, and follow the sign for Whitney’s Bowl and Pt Mariah. In about 1.8 mi from the parking area, one of the Royal Gorge cross-country warming huts will be slightly uphill on your right. As you go past the warming hut, the trail loops around to the right and just before it straightens out and comes up to the warming hut, an unsigned, but obvious trail, is on the left. This is the Pt Mariah Trail. Follow this trail for about three-quarters of a mile to Pt. Mariah. Along the way, be sure to look to your right for beautiful views of Devil’s Peak and to its left, Snow Mountain, another property conserved by TDLT. When you get to Pt Mariah, take time to enjoy the fabulous views down into the Royal Gorge of the North Fork of the American River and the surrounding wilderness.
After a short rest, and perhaps a snack, you are ready for the return trip. Retrace your steps to the trailhead and you have completed one of Royal Gorge's iconic hikes.