Keynot Peak via the ridge route and Forgotten Point is an intense off-trail scramble up steep scree slopes with simply breathtaking views of the Eastern Sierra. Begin your hike as the sun is rising to enjoy luminescent, pink sunrays hitting the tips of California’s most famous 14ers like Mount Whitney, Mount Langley, Mount Williamson, and Lone Pine Peak, to name a few.
Turn onto the dirt road leading to Union Wash off of Owenyo Lone Pine Road and park. If you’re lucky enough to have a four-wheel drive vehicle, continue up the wash and park at the base of the mountain's southwest ridge, saving yourself 1.5 miles each way off of the hike. The ridge will appear steep at first, and that’s because it is. This peak will not be bagged easily, but the sweeping vistas and solitude the whole way up are worth it.
Gain the ridge near where it meets the gravel lane. Trekking poles, burly quads, and an outrageous amount of mental determination will make this part easier. Once on top, the terrain quickly improves, and you’ll ascend another few thousand feet along a gorgeous desert ridge of hard-packed scree. Forgotten Point, at 8,395 feet, is a great place to stop for lunch and look around at how far you’ve come, the entire Sierra Nevada range spanning before your feet. Stretch your legs and drink some electrolytes, because the crux of the day will soon be upon you.
The ridge remains mellow for another three-quarters of a mile or so before abruptly steepening. You’ll gain 3,000 feet in the last 1.5 miles, and the loose scree makes it a challenging, leg burning ascent. Oddly enough, at around 10,000 feet, the tree line begins, and the change in scenery should serve to keep you motivated as you complete the final Class 3 scramble to the summit. There’s a proper summit block of boulders to pose triumphantly on for photos before making your long descent.
Many people opt to add on Mount Inyo to this trip or camp at Bedspring Saddle for an overnight backpacking adventure, but if you’ve had enough scree and desert peaks, you can return back the way you came, scree surfing the whole way down the ridge and returning to your car. It is a long day out and a great training hike at altitude for bigger peaks when everything is still covered in snow in the early spring. An ice axe, helmet, and crampons are recommended in the winter when the upper parts of this mountain are still steeped in ice and snow.