Hike Difficulty: moderate
Hike Length: 7.39 mi loop
Elevation Gain: 1801 ft
Time: 3 hrs 43 mins
Just a heads-up: I got a new camera that I still haven’t completely figured out yet. Sorry if some of the pictures are sub-par. I’m on a learning curve and I swear I’ll get better 🙂
So, it’s that time of the year when all the good hikes start to open up and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been anxious to find some new trails that I haven’t hiked before, of which Tanner Lakes/Mountain is one. It’s actually fairly simple to get to Tanner Lakes themselves — from the unmarked trailhead, they’re within .4 and 1.2 miles respectively. I wanted a little challenge for myself, so I set out to complete the entire loop up to Tanner Mountain.
The hike was pretty straightforward and the trail was easy to follow most of the time. The Boundary Trail connects with the Tanner Lakes Trail around mile 1.8 and it took us south towards Tanner Mountain. There is not really an official trail to the mountain summit, so you have to turn off at a rock cairn and do a bit of bushwhacking (I had plenty of bloody scratches on my legs to prove it).
After the summit is when things got interesting. It’s a short half mile to get to the Boundary Trailhead, which is a creepy-looking campsite beside NF-570 with no kind of trail marking at all. My guidebook said that, after walking down the road for a while, I could shortcut through a meadow at Sundown Gap and get to my car a bit quicker. I didn’t want to walk along the road for another two miles when I could get to my car in one. There was semblance of a trail there, and it seemed easy enough to follow, so I decided to shortcut it.
The shortcut was only about .6 miles and it followed a creek that leads to Tanner Lake below. The “trail” disappeared pretty quickly and I found myself bushwhacking down a meadow. I was preoccupied with trying to get the white balance on my new camera to work out when I looked down to see a couple of figures below. I remember thinking to myself, “Whoa, whose dogs are those? Wait a second. Holy shit, those are bears!” Yep, I saw a couple black bears in the meadow, one black and one brown. The black one heard my camera shutter click, looked up at me, then promptly took off. His buddy soon did the same, but took off in another direction. Luckily, the dogs were already on leashes and I didn’t have to worry about any sort of scuffle with the bears. Needless to say, I booked it to my car and got out of there, thankful that the bears were more scared of me than I was of them.