The trail is a beautiful hike through pines and meadows. The golden aspen were in their glory high on the slopes across from Herman Gulch. This is a good conditioning hike with only a faint, intermittent climber's trail from the Lake to the summit. From the TH to the summit was 3.75 miles and 3170' per TOPO! and 3270' per my Suunto altimeter watch. About half the elevation gain is in the 0.9 mile stretch above the Lake. Where possible, you avoid the talus fields and climb grassy slopes above the lake, working your way toward the summit block. I traversed west to catch the south ridge, summited, and then hiked NE down the ridge to a saddle leading back down to the Lake.
The highly exposed summit block was an unexpected surprise. Pettingell has a jagged summit with significant exposure on both sides of a 2-3' wide narrow section you have to traverse about 20 feet to reach the 10-12 person flat summit. The jagged rock and exposure made picking secure hand and foot holds on the traverse quite exciting. The views were awesome with clear blue, nearly windfree weather. A leisurely hike down made for a very enjoyable autumn day.
Doug Cook adds to his own report:
The trip report I posted last week was incorrect. After a couple of friends commenting they didn't remember the summit of Pettingell requiring a tricky traverse with significant exposure, I went back and looked at the topo. Wandering upward on the broad slopes above the Lake, I went too far west and actually summited the 13,418 closed contour directly west of Herman Lake, rather than Pettingell 13,553 which is NW of the Lake. There are several trails around the point, and with only 135 feet altitude difference, I assumed the discrepancy was within normal altimeter error. The 13,418 countour has an exciting summit finish (as described in the previous report), and I'd highly recommend visiting it any time you climb Pettingell Peak. It's 0.41 miles south of Pettingell on the easy ridge walk.