Big Springs Hikes & Climbs
These crags are located in a dense Jeffrey Pine Forest on the east
side of U.S. 395 just north of Mammoth. The cliffs are eroded outcrops
of welded volcanic tuff. This area receives a large amount of snowfall
in winter, so climbing is often not possible until summer. The roads
in this area, although graded, are narrow and roughly washboarded.
To get to the Big Springs area start at the junction of Hwy. 203 and Hwy. 395 and drive north on 395. About five miles is the Crestview rest area. Just past the bottom of the hill turn right (east) on the paved Owens River Road (2S07). Follow this road a few miles to a left turn at Big Springs campground 2S04). This road heads north past the campground turns to dirt and begins winding up a grade to the Indiana Summit Natural Area. The following descriptions all begin at this point:
At 2.2 miles north of the campground, a sign marks the exit for the road to Alpers and Clark Canyons (2S06). Follow this road just over a mile to the cattle gate. A half-mile past the gate, road 2S06 joins with 1S47 coming in from the left, and soon passes through a second cattle gate (please close all gates behind you). Continue on this road through a meadow and around a ridge into the main branch of Clark Canyon. At a 4-way intersection, turn right and follow this road to a loop parking area. From here a trail leads north up a dry creek bed to the main cliff area.
Clark Canyon is the most developed sport-climbing crag in the Mammoth area. The routes are highly concentrated, with convenient anchors. The canyon is in a beautiful setting with views of Mt. Morrison and the surrounding peaks. The rock is very featured, with pockets galore. The routes tend to be short with cruxy bulges that must be passed.
The climbs are located in two primary areas. The trail to the main area heads right up a steep slope when the crag is reached. The trail to the Potato Patch goes left up a wash. Beyond Potato Patch, a quarter-mile up the gully is the Swiss Cheese Boulder, which features a couple of steep top-ropes (11b/c) and some excellent bouldering.