Place Names

A place to explore the natural setting (geology, flora & fauna), people, constructed infrastructure and historical events that play and have played a part in shaping the Sierra Nevada as we know it today.
User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:54 pm
Experience: N/A

Place Names

Post by creekfeet » Sat Mar 10, 2018 8:52 am

When planning a trip and looking at the map, I'm always drawn to places with great names, be they delightful or intimidating. For as much as I want to see the Gorge of Enchantment, I want to see the Gorge of Despair even more. Many times I've found a place lives up to the name. The reflection in Lake Reflection was the best I've ever seen. For other places, namely Lake of the Fallen Moon, the place itself didn't live up to the romanticism of the name. So I'm curious, what are everyone's favorite place names, and did you find they lived up to expectations? Is Hell-For-Sure Pass really hell, for sure? Is Forgotten Lake truly forgotten? Or even better, are there any great names out there that aren't included on the maps?

User avatar
Topix Novice
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:51 pm
Experience: Level 2 Backpacker
Location: Sonora CA

Re: Place Names

Post by RSC » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:15 am

It's been a long time, maybe 30 years, but I don't recall Hell-For-Sure pass living up to its name. I don't know about Forgotten Lake, but I know that Secret Lake is not really secret. I've never been on the Golden Staircase, but I'm planning on it this summer, and I find just the name exciting.

User avatar
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1929
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Place Names

Post by balzaccom » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:59 am

Funny that you should have forgotten Forgotten Lake...

check out our website:" onclick=";return false;

User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 412
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:00 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Reno, NV

Re: Place Names

Post by alpinemike » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:12 am

There is nothing Enchanted about the Enchanted Gorge except the name... that's how the joke goes. Well... I've done it and except for the one lake in the middle of the gorge it was definitely a dreadful experience. The rain did not help.

To go along with that... an unnamed lake high up on the Ragged Spur that looks down onto the Enchanted Gorge now has an unofficial name. Well, at least Rogue and I have on for it. Dumba** lake. And the sentiments were without a doubt shared by the both of us... only a true dumba** would venture to that lake for it has very few if any redeeming qualities.

While the Muro Blanco doesn't particularly have a great name it sure does have a reputation and typically speaking a nasty one at that. And yes... it was hideously awful when it came to the brush.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-" onclick=";return false;

User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 144
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:54 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Place Names

Post by franklin411 » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:15 am

If you're curious about the origins of some of those place names...I've found this to be a useful resource: ... 0520266196

User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 165
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:15 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Visalia, CA

Re: Place Names

Post by cslaght » Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:16 pm

The Hell For Sure area always had interest in me by seeing it as a kid when first traveling to the Parks 30 years ago. My dad and I went to the area and stayed, at all places, Disappointment Lake (did NOT live up to the name). Here's the report ... =1&t=16497 from last year. I remember Hell For Sure being quite pleasant for the most part, not sure if that is an indictment on my soul though...
"The mountains are calling, but can't find my phone"


User avatar
Topix Addict
Posts: 2837
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Silicon Valley

Re: Place Names

Post by SSSdave » Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:37 pm

I have fun with occasionally naming un-named features on USGS topographic maps, mostly peaks and lakes, usually due to unique visual features or how they look on maps. Just a few:

Curtain Lake in Sequoia National Park named for its cliff-like wall on the background peak:


The dual peak ridge at frame left from Laurel Creek are "The White Crags", and are also prominent from Mott Lake:


Grass Bullseye Lake in Humphreys Basin named for its shape and center grass island:


But also name special trees like this bristlecone pine:
The Dancer:

Or this Sierra juniper, The Twister:

User avatar
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10638
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Place Names

Post by maverick » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:01 pm

For as much as I want to see the Gorge of Enchantment, I want to see the Gorge of Despair even more.
GOD is much prettier than GOE, the views of Tehipite Dome, Tehipite Valley, Black Divide, Simpson Meadow, and Palisades are sublime. Planning a re-visit in June, if circumstances are ideal for my photo purposes. :nod:
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member:

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 1058
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 10:24 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: where the Sierras, Cascades, and Great Basin meet.

Re: Place Names

Post by dave54 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:43 am

Devil's Den is named after the strange shaped hoodoos scattered throughout. Same for Devil's Playground. Remnants of the Tuscan Formation.
Elephant's Playground has an abundance of rounded grey granite boulders.
Hambone Butte was a popular overnight camp on the wagon road between Redding and Susanville. Some unknown person(s) at some point in time lost to the mists of history hung a ham on a wire from a tree limb. Long after the meat was gone the bone remained and became a landmark.
Jim Jam Ridge reportedly got its name from a group of prospectors. One them was a severe alcoholic, and when the liquor supply ran out began having DTs, or Jim Jams in slang.
Not sure about Penitentiary Flat. Still researching. Possibly a summer work camp for inmates was located there.
Jacob's Ladder Trail has many many switchbacks ascending a tall steep slope.
Not sure about the Skedaddle Mountains.
Log off and get outdoors!

User avatar
Topix Docent
Posts: 7269
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Petaluma, CA

Re: Place Names

Post by rlown » Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:08 am

Very cool info Dave! This whole thread should be put into the Sierra Nevada History area.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests