Darwin Canyon Tour

This is a very fine tour, whose highlights are the beautiful Darwin Bench, perched overlooking Evolution Valley, and the long descent from Lamarck Col at the end of the trip.

This trip begins and ends as close to North Lake as you can get by car. By mid-spring, most years, you should be able to drive up to the bottom of the dirt road that leads to North Lake, elevation 8960'. Earlier in the season, the winter closure is at Aspendell, 8270', and late season, you may be able to drive all the way to North Lake, 9250'. This tour has an average elevation of about 11000', so April or May should be a good time to do it in a typical season.

  Darwin Lakes
Darwin Lakes; photo by Andy Luks
Wherever you park, continue on foot up to the North Lake trailhead, and follow the vicinity of the trail up to Piute Lake, our first camp. This is a pretty easy day, but I don't like to camp higher than 11000' on the first night out.

Day 2, we head up over Piute Pass, and bear left around the back side of Muriel Pk., over the Glacier Divide via Alpine Col. Follow the lakes in your descent down to the next camp, at Darwin Bench, to the west of Darwin Canyon. There should be time to day-tour southward to get a view of Evolution Lake and Evolution Valley.

  Ascending Lamarck Col
Ascending Lamarck Col from Darwin Lakes; photo by Andy Luks
The next day, venture into Darwin Canyon. After crossing the fourth lake, head northeast up to the not exactly obvious Lamarck Col. From Lamarck, descend to the northeast. At 12200', rather than taking the steep chute into Lamarck Lake, you want to stay right, and then continue downward. At 11000', the trail route cuts left out of this drainage, but you can continue to ski downward, towards and past Grass Lake. A mile later, you will reach North Lake.

An account of the final day of our 5/96 Darwin Canyon trip

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