|Difficulty||4 Advanced intermediate|
|Length||8.1 miles round trip|
|+1250, -1250 round trip|
|Navigation||Road and map|
|Season||Mid-December through early April|
|Snowmobiles Use||Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]|
|Start||McGowan Road Trailhead on Highway 89, 2.0 miles north of the junction of Highways 36 and 89, and 3.5 miles south of the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. There is a turnout, parking space, and the trailhead on the west side of the highway.|
If there is one tour in the McGowan Road area that stands out among all others, it is the McGowan Lake and Plantation Ridge Loop. Of the entire 8.1 miles, the route only retraces itself for 1.2 miles. In addition to easy skiing along roads, a steep climb will take you to the top of a ridge that offers a magnificent panorama including Brokeoff Mountain, Lassen Peak, and Mt. Conard.
The route off the ridge is a two-mile run along its crest; most of the time the skiing is easy, but in a few places the skiing is tricky. Plantation Ridge also affords excellent downhill runs into Plantation Gulch.
The Plantation Ridge tour describes an alternate tour along the ridge which avoids the very steep climb from McGowan Lake.
McGowan Lake is situated on private property and although ski tourers have used the lake as a destination in the past the owners have the right to restrict entry. Please stay away from the cabin and abide by all posted notices.
Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 0.1
Elevation change: +0
Ski west on McGowan Road for 0.1 mile until you reach the junction with Christie Hill Road (2), which is on the south (left) side of McGowan Road.
Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 0.1 -1.0
Elevation change: +50
Ski generally west (straight) on McGowan Road for 0.9 mile until you reach the location where the road begins to descend (3).
Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 1.0 - 1.2
Elevation change: -100
Ski northwest on McGowan Road for 0.2 mile until you reach the McGowan Lake turnoff(4), which is on the north (right) side of McGowan Road. The turnoff to McGowan Lake is easily missed if you are skiing fast.
Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 1.2 - 1.7
Elevation change: +50, -100
Tum north (right) onto the lesser road and ski west 0.5 mile until you reach McGowan Lake (5).
Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 1.7 - 2.3
Elevation change: +450
Climb west for 0.6 mile until you reach the low point on the ridge (6) that is north of Peak 6647. This very steep climb is through trees.
Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 2.3 - 2.6
Elevation change: +100
Climb southeast along the ridge for 0.3 mile until you reach Peak 6647 (7).
Waypoint 7 to 8
Miles: 2.6 - 3.6
Elevation change: +50, -400
Ski southwest along the ridge for 1.0 mile until you reach a minor high point and the end of the main ridge (8). Part of the ridge is very narrow and the skiing is easiest along its northwest (right) side where the terrain is open.
Waypoint 8 to 9
Miles: 3.6 - 4.2
Elevation change: -450
Descend south along a broad spur for 0.6 mile until you reach McGowan Road (9). A 4WD road follows this spur, but you are unlikely to see it. A compass may be useful in order to ensure that you are descending the south spur and not one of two others. But both of those other spurs will get you to McGowan Road.
When snow conditions permit, from the minor high point on the ridge you can descend east (left) for 0.4 mile until you reach the McGowan Road and Nanny Creek Road junction (10). This alternate route reduces the length of the tour by 1.2 miles.
Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 4.2 - 5.2
Elevation change: -150
Ski generally northeast (left) on McGowan Road for 1.0 mile until you reach the junction with Nanny Creek Road (10).
Waypoint 10 to 4
Miles: 5.2 - 6.9
Elevation change: +450
Ski northeast (straight) on McGowan Road for 1.7 miles until you reach the McGowan Lake turnoff (4).
Return to trailhead
Miles: 6.9 - 8.1
Elevation change: +100, -50
Retrace the route for 1.2 miles back to the trailhead (1).