Mount Mastiff + Mount Howard by Rock Mountain via Merritt Lake Trail / 獒山

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Mount Mastiff and Mount Howard of Nason Ridge by Rock Mountain overlook Highway 2. Together the two peaks harbor five alpine lakes, including Merritt Lake by the official trail. The closeness of the mountains makes them doable as a long day trip.

Mount Mastiff from Merritt Lake Trail
Mount Mastiff from Merritt Lake Trail

See more trip photos here.

Mount Mastiff and Mount Howard at a Glance

Access: Merritt Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3040′-7063′
Gear: microspikes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface

There was one other car in the lot when we arrived at the trailhead. The other party was out enjoying the weather. Being a Friday, I didn’t expect to see too many, if any, people on the trail.

While researching the trip, I found a few trip reports on The detailed descriptions gave me a good idea about the current snow conditions higher up the mountain.

See more trip photos here.

Merritt Lake Trail

The decent trail was free of snow. Then we started seeing patches as we left the path to go up the. The boot tracks in the snow along the ridge was still visible. Perhaps the party here several weeks before had left them.

Mount Mastiff was virtually a walk-up except for a section of jagged, pointy spires. But glad that we could bypass them from the east. After going through that part, it was straight up to the top.

See more trip photos here.

Mount Mastiff Summit Views

Initially, I would climb Mastiff and then return for Howard on a separate trip. But when we stood on top of Mount Mastiff, I thought we were practically next door. So it was clear that we could do both peaks on the same day.

Howard was within arms reach! Well, maybe not that close, just under one mile. So it wouldn’t make sense to leave our final peak here for another next trip. Killing two birds with one stone was in order.

Kodak moment on Mount Mastiff

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Leaving Mount Mastiff

Soon, we went down the ridgeline to the saddle between the two mountains. Then it started raining as we walked up Mount Howard’s east face with no signs of stopping.

We quickly found refuge in the nearby trees and stayed until the rain stopped. It was still sunny when we left Mount Mastiff, so I didn’t think I would need rain gear. But I’ve since learned that lesson.

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Final Stretch on Mount Howard

After the rainbow came out, it was time to start moving again. But as we neared the top, I realized that it was too steep for the pups. So we moved to the south and went up from there.

From the ridgeline, it was only a quick walk up to the top.

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Mount Howard Summit Views Plus Exit

It stayed sunny the rest of the afternoon and made our visit to Mount Howard more pleasant. At last, with Rock Mountain to the southwest and Mount Mastiff to the east, we’ve accomplished our mission.

I found it helpful to have poles and microspikes in the snow for balance and traction. It was continuous snow, but the top layer had long turned into slush in the warm afternoon.

Kodak moment on Mount Howard

See more trip photos here.

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