My wife and I had spent a good part of the morning trying to find the trail head to Duck Lake near Lake Alpine but the snow (still plentiful in early July) that remained from the winter made this difficult. Instead, along the western shore of Lake Alpine, we stumbled upon the trailhead to Inspiration Point.
We decided a change in plans: we would hike the peak instead.
We started on a well-maintained but somewhat steep and winding path to the top. We were soon past the tree line (and snow) and walked along the more exposed part of the mountain. If you want a good cardio workout, this will do it. After 40 minutes, we climbed to the ridge of the mountain. Already there was a large Spanish-speaking family. It seemed like all three generations had made it up to the peak, though not without some difficulty, as seen in the labored face of the older grandmother. They said they were from Stockton and San Jose, and had been camping below for the past week.
From there, we had a clear view of Union Reservoir and Utica Reservoir to the south. We came across a couple of women, with an elderly man, perhaps in his 70s. He said if he continued along the path to the left, we could climb upon a small peak and see Duck Lake to the west below. We climbed the peak, and sure enough, the lake that had eluded us earlier in the morning, was there, probably only a mile from where we started.
We continued to explore. And here, at the top, where it got more rocky and steep, it became a bit more challenging. We had to step carefully, and at times, use our hands to guide our way up the steeper paths. When we climbed a small peak on the right side of the ridge, we were rewarded with a nice view of Lake Alpine. It was July 4 and we could see many people kayaking and boating on the lake.
Then it was time to start the easy descent. It was a nice hike, accessible for younger children to adults of an older age. The climb up required some effort, but once at the top, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of the area.
To get there, drive up Highway 4 to Lake Alpine, to the parking lot at Chickaree Picnic Area. From there, walk 100 feet to a small foot bridge that crosses a creek. Take a right onto the dirt path that rim of the lake. Continue walking for about ten minutes on this path until you come to a fork with the sign post that says: “Inspiration Peak.”