I wanted to explore the Mountain Loop Highway area since I hadn’t been up there during winter. The road was closed from the red bridge to Barlow Pass, which I later found out. Luckily the turn-off to Mallardy Ridge trailhead was the last available right before the bridge.
This 11-mile round-trip hike was perfect for today’s weather, plenty of exercise for the pup as well. Surprisingly the trailhead was snow-free. In fact, we didn’t encounter any snow until two miles into the hike. Walking on bare forest service road became a tad monotonous after a while. I brought snowshoes just in case, but ended up not needing them and only used microspikes for traction in shallow snow.
We passed a couple of target shooters on the way up, totally unexpected to see them. The sound of gunshots killed the mood, so much for seeking out peace and quiet in the backcountry. We hiked to the end of service road below the lookout and called it a day.