The unsigned trail starts up the bank north off Road 100, about 75 yards west of the big switchback. The trail zig-zags up the hillside for about 300 yards through a mostly ponderosa pine forest, then begins a long ascent north into the Squaw Creek drainage. For the next mile, the trail is easy to follow, but has an inconsistent grade — sometimes quite steep, then level, then steep again. The trail stays up on the hillside well above the creek, through thick forests of douglas fir and true fir. At intervals, snow avalanche chutes create grassy clearings across the trail, and one has brief views east to China Cap Peak and the ridges above timberline.
Clear of snow