How to Hike Flattop Mountain Trail
The trail begins at southeast corner of parking lot. After a short walk through distressed trees that look like pipe-cleaners, take a RIGHT at the intersection where there's a bench and a sign that says “Don’t Bail the Trail.”
After taking a right you’re walking up and around Blueberry Hill. On the opposite side of Blueberry Hill is the second intersection at the first lower Saddleback. This point is 1/3 of the way to the top. Take a RIGHT here as well. NOTE: At this intersection, disregard the sign “Trail” with the arrow pointing straight/left because that is the trail for hikers returning from the summit. If you don’t turn right, you’ll circle around Blueberry hill and end up back at the first intersection.
After taking your second right, you will walk a bit, round a corner and then it starts to get steep. It’s not difficult though because there are railroad tie steps. They provide very firm footing. There are hundreds of them. They give your thighs a good workout.
When the railroad tie steps end you are 2/3 of the way to the top at the second higher Saddleback. There’s a bundle of railroad ties here. Sometimes people sit on the bundle and re-energize for the final 1/3 push to the top.
Just below the top is a rock head-wall. It’s hand-over-hand. It’s so much fun.
On average it takes 1 hour to get from the parking lot to the summit. This still leaves ½ an hour to walk around the mountain's flat top and photograph the great views.
The turnaround time is 3:00 p.m. It takes about 45 minutes to return. Turning around at 3:00 gets you back to the van at or before 4:00 p.m which is when the van is scheduled to leave.
If you’re a fast hiker and get to the top in 45 minutes or less, you will have time to go to the second peak behind the Flattop peak. Just remember to turn around wherever you are at 3:00 p.m.
If you’re a slow, steady, determined hiker who wants to go to the top you must summit no later than 3:00 p.m.. If you summit at 3, take just one picture then turnaround and begin hiking back.
If it’s 3:00 p.m.. and you’re still below the headwall, do not go to the top. People who disregard the turnaround time and go up the headwall after 3:00 p.m. are in over their head. Going up the headwall is easier than going down.
On the descent, retrace the route you took up. After the railroad tie steps end, and you’re back at the first lower saddleback, instead of turning left the way you walked up Blueberry Hill, take a RIGHT. It’s a one-way trail around Blueberry Hill. When you get back to the intersection with the bench, take a RIGHT which returns you to the parking lot.
NOTE: Be sure not to confuse the first lower saddleback with the second higher saddleback. The first lower saddleback is at the second intersection on the opposite side of Blueberry Hill. The second higher saddleback has the bundle of railroad ties. From the second higher saddleback, there is an abandoned "short cut" trail on the north side of the mountain. While aggressive hikers can fly down the scree (loose rocks), most people require the firm footing provided by the railroad tie steps. For most hikers, this alternate trail is not fun and no short cut,