The Canyon … Shirley, no jest |

The Canyon … Shirley, no jest

Shirley Canyon
Photo by Lisa Woodstock |

Shirley Canyon: Four miles of granite beauty

Tucked away in Squaw Valley Olympic Village is a unique trail called Shirley Canyon. I can feel the spirit of all the Olympic athletes who were there. Oh, the training that this splendid trail must have provided with its qualities.

The trail begins at the farthest right corner of the old Olympic Village and starts with a gentle slope through large boulders that are fed in the early spring with a snow swollen creek that swivels through the crevices and provides glimpses of moss-filled cavities that glisten in the sun. Yellow-bellied marmots are common here. If you are not careful they will pair up and make a go for your lunch goodies! These chattery creatures are quite crafty and fun to watch. As my companion and I traversed through the boulders I could hear the faint echo of water, which is a natural stream that is fed from Shirley Lake a dainty alpine lake up the canyon. The hike is a mile in when the stream becomes a nice guest to your right, gracefully guiding us up to a massive rock haven of weather polished round boulders that give way to tufts of flowers and grasses in her soul. This part of the trail lasts for about three-quarters of a mile and then goes up the canyon slope with a slender trail shrouded in old forest growth of giant trees and natural brush leading to the beginning views of Lady Blue.

After another mile, Shirley Lake exposes her quiet beauty, gently cupped by the sheer walls of the slate canyon and accented with more majestic trees and an abundance of colorful wildflowers.

The final mile of the hike has several switchbacks that provide spectacular views of Lady Blue and ends up at the top of Squaw Valley where the Olympians performed.

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