This route describes a loop that encompasses three 13ers - Rito Alto, Peak of the Clouds, and Spread Eagle.
Begin at Hermit Pass. This is a high-mountain pass with a long 4x4 road to get there. While the road is not terribly difficult (i.e. no huge obstacles) it is quite long and rocky. Maybe doable in a Subaru or similar crossover, but I'd recommend a truck or proper SUV since whatever you use to ascend this road will take considerable punishment to it's tires and suspension.
Once parked at the top of the pass, hike up the simple, Class 1 ridgeline to the summit of Rito Alto - approximately 3/4 miles 1
. From here, continue across to the north and descend towards the saddle between Rito Alto and Peak of the Clouds 2
. The route down is large, steep talus. Take care in choosing a correct route, as going in the incorrect direction will lead to cliffs 3
Cross the saddle and continue up Peak of the Clouds 4
. This ascent never exceeds Class 2. Continue following the ridgeline down the other side of Peak of the Clouds - this side is easier and is Class 1. The summit of Spread Eagle should be in view. Continue across the saddle and small point between Peak of the Clouds to reach Spread Eagle 5
Once at the base of Spread Eagle, simply follow the ridegline up. There is one "notch" about 1/3 up Spread Eagle that may be "difficult" Class 2, but the rock is solid and presents plenty of good hand and foot holds. From there it is an easy walk up to the summit of Spread Eagle 6
Returning on the same route is the simplest, but if one wishes to make it into a loop that goes through some alpine lakes that is possible as well 7
. To do this, descend to the alpine lake below Rito Alto 8
, traverse some willows, ascend a loose gully to another alpine lake with a waterfall, then climb the hillside to meet the road about approximately 1/2 mile from the start/finish point 9