After completing Toll Road Gulch and lunching at the Exchequer town site, we headed up Whale Hill. Being unfamiliar with the trail and not having a GPS track to follow, we were exploring. We thought that the road immediately north of Exchequer looked like it might take us to Whale Hill, so we took it.
At the first "T" intersection we took a wrong turn that turned out to be fortunate because we had stumbled on the fun way in. If we had followed the main trail as shown on the informational map sign on the kiosks we would have missed the steep climb.
We did go check out the Minnie Lynch Mine but we didn't stop there. We returned to the "Y" and turned uphill. Mike went first, not sure if this would lead us where we wanted, but it proved to be the route we wanted. We all climbed until we came out at the intersection with forest service road 875.
After admiring the view here, we turned right and continued to climb. The trail was narrow, and at times we wondered if it would fizzle out, but it continued to be marked with the ore cart symbols identifying this as Whale Hill. At one point along the shelf road, we came upon an abandoned utility trailer pushed over the side. We wondered about the events that led to someone getting to that point and realizing they were in a pickle. This is no trail for a trailer! Once again, we were glad that we were not meeting traffic due to the few available places to pass.
After emerging above tree line, we stopped at the top of Whale Hill to take in the 360-degree view. The trail continued up to a "T" and we explored the route to the right, but this soon dead-ended at an overlook. Mike's GPS showed the trail continuing, but there was no sign of it now. We turned around and headed toward Mount Manitou and could see a steep climb up the side of the mountain. We weren't destined to take that trail today, though.
We found the correct spur heading down the mountain toward the east and followed it as it dropped down into the trees again. It was a steep drive, and at times it was even on a shelf road. Mike even slid a bit sideways in the loose dirt, once. After our descent we were soon at the end of the trail and ready to find the Turquoise Mine trail to finish our second day.