Lone Pine Ridge P1K
Trinity Mountain P1K TAC
Peak 3,510ft
Brannan Mountain P500 CC
Peak 4,260ft P1K

Tue, Jun 12, 2018
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2

Continued...

On the second of a four-day trip I had planned a hike in the western part of the Trinity Alps Wilderness out of the Grizzly Camp TH north of SR299. My plan was to tag Trinity Mtn and Trinity Summit, two peaks described in Wayne Moss's Trinity Alps Companion. It's a long drive into the TH, thankfully much of it paved, making things a little faster and a little less dusty. I had driven more than half the road the night before, stopping to camp on an unsigned spur road that leads to the Happy Camp Campground. This was not far from Lone Pine Ridge, a short hike to a P1K that I planned to do first thing in the morning before driving to Grizzly Camp TH for the longer hike in the Wilderness area. Later in the day I drove back out to the highway and to the small town of Willow Creek at the SR299/SR96 junction for a few more peaks in the afternoon.

Lone Pine Ridge

I was up early and drove the remaining few miles of paved road (Forest Rd 8N02) to its end at Onion Campsite (shown on the topo map). From there, spur road 7N10 goes west along Lone Pine Ridge, bypassing the highpoint on the south side. I parked northeast of the summit and hiked the short distance to the top. A firebreak had been bulldozed over this ridgeline at some time in the past, the brush just starting to grow back more robustly. The views were fairly open, taking in the surrounding National Forest lands. The whole outing took just over ten minutes.

Trinity Mountain

I spent the next half hour driving north to the Grizzly Camp TH which I found deserted and looking somewhat forlorn. Most of the trees are all just snags now, following the 2013 Corral Complex Fire. Heavy brush has grown up over the past five years and the TH looks hardly inviting. The Horse Ridge National Recreation Trail has one end starting from here, the other end about a dozen miles to the north at the Redcap TH. From the start, it was evident that no one has been maintaining this end of the trail over the past few years. It gets some use which helps, but there are lots of downed logs in the forested areas and lots of overgrown brush in the burned areas. About a mile and a half up the trail I came to an unsigned trail junction I was looking for. The spur trail to the right is an old roadbed that goes uphill in several switchbacks to the crest that forms the boundary between the Shasta-Trinity and the Six Rivers National Forests. Trinity Mtn lies atop this crest a short distance south of where the old road turns north at the crest. Though most of the area here had burned, the brush close to the crest had not grown back thickly yet, making cross-country navigation fairly easy. There was even the remnants of an old use trail that one could follow in places. I reached the 6,000-foot summit by 8:15a, only an hour and a quarter after starting out, a pretty quick hike. There was a small cairn, a reference mark pointing to a benchmark I couldn't find, and open views in all directions. Probably the best view would be to the east of the higher Trinity summits around Thompson Peak, but this was washed out by the bright morning sun in that direction. I left a register in the small pile of rocks before returning back to the Horse Ridge Trail.

I continued north on the trail, as it traverse along the west side of the crest, climbing and descending in modest gradients as it makes its way in and out of several side creeks that form the Horse Linto Creek drainage. Some sections of the forest had been spared from the fire and these were quite scenic, the trail easy to follow here. In other places the brush has grown over head level and one needs to keep their arms up high in front as they walk through the narrow path to push the brush aside. After about 4mi I neared the location on the map marked as Lipps Camp. Here, the trail reaches up to the crest where it goes through a low saddle and turns northwest to climb up to Trinity Summit atop Horse Trail Ridge. This area had burned in the 2009 Corral Complex Fire with nine years of robust brush growth since then. The trail more or less disappeared near the creek, only a handful of ducks marking the route for a few hundred yards, then these, too, gave out and I was left looking at a sea of brush. I spent probably 45min probing about the brush from various angles, trying to locate the trail as depicted on my GPSr (which so far I had been following quite nicely). I found some hopeful signs of trail through the heavy brush but these all seemed to eventually lead to dead ends. I had hoped to follow the trail up to Trinity Summit but that was still almost two miles away and I had no appetite for such a daunting bushwhack up the overgrown slope before me. I turned back. Perhaps I would have to explore an approach from the west another time.

The return was easy enough, about two hours to get me back to the Grizzly Camp TH by 12:30p. I had planned to be out much longer so with my early return I would need to find more to do for the afternoon.

Peak 3,510ft

On the long drive back out to SR299, I took a short side trip to visit modest Peak 3,510ft for a bonus. A spur road forks off the pavement just north of the summit, the road going right over the top, or almost so. The Jeep veered towards the appropriate tree at the highest point in order to claim it as a drive-up. There had been no fire at the summit in recent times, leaving the top heavily forested with nary a view. On my way back out I paused to look at a truck parked off the road, not far from the summit. I had thought the owner was recreating nearby but it appears to have been abandoned - not all that unusual for these backcountry parts.

Brannan Mountain

Back down on SR299, I continued west to the town of Willow Creek at the junction of the Trinity and Mad Rivers. This small town has a couple of gas stations, a few restaurants and some random other businesses, a small patch of civilization amidst hundreds of square miles of folded ranges and forest. CC-listed Brannan Mtn lies in the low hills found east of town, outside the Trinity Alps Wilderness and the nearby Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. The land here is a mix of private and national forest and it was with a great deal of uncertainty that I started driving up the road from town to check it out. Conveniently named Brannan Mtn Rd is also conveniently paved for much of its length. Near Three Creeks Summit, a spur road to the right climbs up to a locked gate at Johnson Prairie. Just before this locked gate, an ungated, rough road forks right through the understory and climbs to the summit of Brannan Mountain. With some pinstriping, the Jeep managed the whole drive to the unimaginative top. There is a large, green radio reflector that looks like a drive-in movie screen or a large billboard. Views are severly limited by the surrounding trees and brush. This isn't even the highest summit in the immediate area so it makes little sense that it would be on a peak list. Such are the vagaries one finds in the CC list.

Peak 4,260ft

Less than two miles northwest of Brannan Mtn, unnamed Peak 4,260ft is the highest summit in the area and a P1K. Flush with my success at reaching Brannan Mtn, I drove back down the road with hopes of similar succcess on this one. At Three Creeks Summit I found an open gate signed for No Trespassing that stopped me. It was apparently the entrance to a quarry and looked to be only temporarily open. A spur road to the right, shown on the topo as a 4WD road, appeared to be the road I was looking for so I followed it, only to find it dead-ended. Or rather, the road beyond a few hundred yards was no longer driveable, with lots of downfall intentionally placed on the road. My GPSr told me I was still almost 3mi from the summit but this would have to do - I hadn't expected a longish hike for this one, but since it was only 3p I could hardly use the excuse that I was running out of time. I parked the Jeep and headed off on foot.

The road turns out to have been abandoned probably a few decades ago. Though still useable on foot, there were several significant washouts that the Jeep would have been unable to negotiate. One of these even had some old grow buckets that had been abandoned. Seems everyone around these parts takes a crack at pot farming at some time or another. Just past the buckets at the second washout, the road reached a junction with a decent road that while still serviceable, sees little traffic. I followed this uphill to a much better road that had evidence of recent and regular use. How one gets to this road is a bit of a mystery, as not all the roads are depicted on the maps or visible in the satellite views. This road led up past a couple of water tanks on private property, then back onto Forest Service lands, then again on private lands. It was all somewhat confusing which at least helped with my plausible deniability should someone drive by and ask what I was doing. After an hour's time I reached the last junction with a road leading up towards the top, now only about a quarter mile away. The topo map shows the road veering north away from the peak so at its nearest approach I left the road to wander uphill through dense forest understory in search of the summit. My meandering eventually led me close to the summit where I found what appears to be another abandoned grow site. It seems to have been poorly planned and executed and nothing serious seems to have come of it. Just past this I caught sight of a building or trailer through the trees just off the summit, with a truck parked nearby. This was getting a bit spooky and I was worried that a dog would catch wind of me and start barking to draw attention. The summit was a disappointment, deep in the woods and rather flattish with little to denote any sort of actual summit. I called it good and headed back down, figuring I'd already pressed my luck enough this afternoon.

I was happy to have no encounters with anyone during the uneventful return, finally finishing the day around 5:15p. I drove back down to Willow Creek where I refueled and started making plans for the next day. I was ahead of schedule with only a day's worth of summits and two days remaining on the trip, so I started considering what it would take for another crack at Trinity Summit and a couple of CC-listed peaks near it. In the end I decided to give it another try via the Mill Creek Lake Trailhead and headed out of Willow Creek around 7p for what I expected to be several hours of driving to reach the trailhead - good thing I now had a full tank of gas... Continued...


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