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It Gets You There!
The Ortega-Dry Canyon Traverse provides a great connecting route for the variety of canyons and ridges flowing down the West side from Ortega Peak, but it requires that you make your way all the way up and beyond the 7,000' level. The upper end of some of the canyons lack appeal, and you might not want to climb that high.
Michal's Traverse provides a great alternative.
Departing the "A" Trail just above the "A" Trail Bluffs, this off trail route connects with an interesting variety of those Western hikes. Terri's Cut lies just below the Bluffs; loop down and around from either side of that prominent rock feature.
In fact, the Bluffs are the first connection; the very short walk over allows for access to the variety of hidden caves.
Looping above and beyond the Bluffs, you immediately descend into Jim's Cut. Less than .2 mile from the "A" Trail, this spur canyon will give you access down into Ortega Canyon South, below the lower dryfall.
Proceeding across and out of Jim's Cut, and around the ridgeline to the north, you will next angle down into the middle section of Ortega Canyon South, crossing the canyon bottom just above the middle dryfall formation. Most often you will be ascending out of the bottom, using the Traverse to move south back to the "A" Trail, around .4 miles away.
From the top of the dryfall, you angle up and to the West, targeting Ortega Ridge South. You will note an open Rift above you; that is not your goal. Angle lower to do a simple loop below the obvious cliff line on the upper portions of the Ridge... unless your intent is to head up to Ortega peak. The lower angle will wind you up, around and then down into the nicer section of Yubao's Cut (Staircase Canyon). Reaching Staircase you will be about one mile across the Traverse and have the option of using the canyon connection to connect with the lower portions of Ortega Canyon North, or you may proceed up and around to connect with that same canyon above the towering Dryfall Formation mid canyon. There is a safe scramble through the cliffs on the far north end of the Traverse... 1.2 miles from the "A" Trail.
The variety of connecting loops possible, and the short cut potentials for exiting the canyons make this Traverse one of the more popular routes in the area. It is slowly being transformed into a real trail!
Go find it!
Check out the Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.