Last Sunday we went up there in snow, and it turned out to be a marvelous trip. After the last snow, we were the first batch to get to the top. Nobody even ventured beyond the Narrows, and that's why the mountain lion track, which goes all the way from the Narrows to close to the shed on the saddle along the usual hike route, was intact.
(I remember one charming lady mentioned the hike as 'Yubao and the ladies', and I do savor that. Timmy was on the hike, but he started two hours late, so we missed his company all the way to the top.)
The first 3 miles are on trail, followed by about 2 miles of off trail ridge walking and steep climbing.
Hikers who did both the Needle and the Peak argued that the view from the Peak is better than that of the Needle. I will leave it to you to be the judge of that. However, technically, the Peak, though longer, is easier than the Needle, simply because the latter has the daunting sheer rock slab climbing at the very end of it while the former does not. A little bit less adrenaline rush may be compensated by a bit more calorie burning though.
However, to do this hike, we need good knees, strong legs, and brave hearts.
Distance: About 10 miles.
Duration: 8-10 hours.
Elevation gain: About 4000'.
Difficult level: Extremely difficult; not beginner friendly; if you haven't had much of HARD HIKING RECENTLY, think AGAIN about this hike.
Pet friendly: NO.
Meet at Milagro Coffee at 7:30am or 7:50am at La Cueva Picnic Area Parking Lot at Dripping Spring State Park.