Weaver Bally Lookout CC
Weaver Bally P750
Monument Peak P1K CC / WSC / TAC
Rocky Point
Little Bally CC
Red Hill

Thu, Feb 19, 2015
Etymology
Red Hill
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2

Continued...

Weaver Bally Lookout

I had spent the night parked in a clearing off Weaver Bally Rd about halfway up the mountain. This surprisingly well-maintained dirt road climbs 5,000ft from Weaverville to the 7,000-foot summit of Weaver Bally Lookout in 9mi. The last two miles are a narrow, one-lane stretch cut into the steep mountain slope. Normally this drive would be treacherous at this time of year with snow and mud, but with another dry year across the state the conditions were extremely favorable and I had no trouble driving my low-clearance van to the end of the road where it is gated just below the summit. I managed to drive to the TH and walk the short distance to the summit before 7a, a few minutes before sunrise. The lookout does not have much prominence but its location at the SW end of a high ridge gives it a commanding view over the Trinity River drainage. The sun was making an effort to rise above the clouds that partially blocked its rays from the edge of the eastern sky. Fog hung over Weaverville and the lowest valleys below, creating a serene, early morning landscape. To the north rose the higher summits of Weaver Bally and Monument Peak and it was to these that I next turned my attention.

Weaver Bally

The lookout may have made the CC-list but as I was to find out, Weaver Bally itself is the better candidate. Rising 500ft higher than the lookout, Weaver Bally is located about 1.5mi to the northeast, about half the distance to Monument Peak which marks the highpoint of the 8mi-long ridgeline. There is no trail leading to the summit, but its high elevation above treeline, subjected to sometimes harsh winter conditions, makes for mostly open terrain. The north side is somewhat more brushy, but not a serious challenge vegetation-wise. The East Weaver Lake TH is located at the small parking area on the ridge just before the gate to the lookout. The trail winds its way around the east side of Weaver Bally to East Weaver Lake before climbing to the saddle between Weaver Bally and Monument Peak. I started along this trail for only a few minutes, until I reached a worn USFS sign about the 1987 fire that struck the area. The ridgeline was bulldozed before starting a backfire to combat that blaze, but there is little evidence left of the firebreak. Just behind the sign a use trail cuts through the manzanita and it was this that I followed off the main trail to begin the ascent to Weaver Bally. The use trail continues on and off most of the way to the summit, but the terrain soon opens enough that the use trail isn't critical. About 15min up the ridge is a memorial cross to Betty and Wayne Funk (an online search showed they lived and died in Weaverville, but not much more) erected around the turn of the millenium. It has a fine view overlooking the Canyon Creek drainage and the higher Trinity Alps to the west. It was a delightfully scenic climb, bringing me to the summit in about 40min. Almost 8a by this time, fog still filled the lower valleys to the east and south. Snow could be seen on the northern aspects of the ridge, but so far there had been no snow on the route. An ammo box holds a geocache located among the summit rocks. To the north rises the higher Monument Peak with a 700-foot drop to the saddle mentioned earlier.

Monument Peak

After packing away the geocache/summit register I headed down the NE Ridge, taking about 25min to descend through shin-high manzanita lightly vegetating the sunnier SE side of the ridge. I noted the trail at the saddle but since it was perpendicular to my line of travel I did not get to make much use of it. The ridgeline continuing up to Monument Peak is more forested than Weaver Bally and I found the cross-country travel fairly tame even with the presence of some snow as I climbed above 7,000ft. The snow was not more than a few inches thick and not slick enough to be treacherous. Many of the trees have been tagged with small metal tags, circular in shape and stamped with a number. Perhaps some one was counting trees as part of a research project. There is a bit of scrambling and some mild bushwhacking in the highest reaches, nothing difficult and all good fun, allowing me to reach the summit just after 9a. This is the closest view I've had of Thompson Peak and the other high summits of the Trinity Alps, about 13mi to the NW, and it is a fine sight. To the NE is the jagged ridgeline atop which sits Gilbert Peak and behind it can be seen the massive form of Mt. Shasta. Though I've traveled over mostly bare ground, I seem to be surrounded my snowy slopes. Snow covers the NW side of Weaver Bally to the south and the northern aspects of the ridgeline stretching east and forming the headwaters of Rush Creek. Directly below me to the north Monument Peak drops off dramatically for 2,500ft to Rush Creek Lakes, all the slopes covered in snow. The highest lake which sees the least sun is frozen over. It is a grand view spot, made more pronounces by all the snow. Still, these are drought conditions for February - on a normal year it would have taken far more effort to reach Monument in winter and the snow would have been far more extensive. I was surprised to find no register here, though there is a USGS benchmark.

I retraced my route back to the saddle with Weaver Bally and then made an executive decision to modify the return (it's easy to do when there's no one to question the choice). Rather than go back up and over Weaver Bally, I decided to take the East Weaver Lake Trail back to the TH. What I didn't fully appreciate until I had started down it a good distance is just how far the trail drops before reaching the junction for the climb back up. In fact, it drops some 700ft before having to climb back up the same amount which was strikingly similar to the gain and loss I would have had going back over Weaver Bally. I had little to complain about since I had a trail to follow and I was covering new ground. The junction I reached was unsigned and the trails weren't all that well-defined, but the GPS had it nicely depicted and I avoided what could have been a costly mistake if I'd missed the junction. Turning right, I was now on the East Weaver Lake Trail proper, pleasant enough as it crosses a couple of small creeks on its way past East Weaver Lake before starting a steady climb up and over a subsidiary ridge off the east side of Weaver Bally. I had some concern because I could see a good deal of snow on this north-facing slope and I had no snow gear with me. Luckily the trail avoids the snow for much of the climb by staying on the sunnier east-facing slope before making a long traverse across the north-facing one. As expected, the snow was a bit sketchy here across a steep slope where one could ill afford to slip. I managed this with some cautious footsteps, kicking steps in the hard snow in a few places. Once over the crest of the east ridge, the trail moves to the sunnier southeast-facing slope that, in sharp contrast, is completely snow-free. An easy walk along the manzanita-lined trail got be back to the TH and the van by 10:45a.

Rocky Point

This minor named point is only a few minutes off the Weaver Bally Rd, so I stopped on the way down to tag it as an easy bonus. As the name suggests, it is a small rocky protuberance that sticks out from the forested slopes, offering a view overlooking Weaverville and the surrounding country.

Little Bally

I drove back down to Weaverville, turned west on SR299 and continued to Junction City about seven miles in that direction. I turned off the highway and started up Canyon Creek looking for a 4WD road depicted on the topo map leading to the summit of Little Bally. There are two summits in the Trinity Alps area with this name. The higher one in the Whiskeytown Unit I had just visited the previous day. This second one lies at the lower SW end of Tunnel Ridge, the same ridgeline that rises to Weaver Bally and Monument Peak. My original, ill-conceived plan, was to climb this from the bottom past Little Bally and all ten miles to Monument Peak. The plan was poor not because of it's length or elevation gain but because there is no road or trail for the 3mi stretch between Little Bally and Weaver Bally Lookout, making the prospect of dayhiking this brushy ridge extremely difficult if not impossible.

I had some trouble locating what I thought would be an obvious road. It was not. The old road starts at a gate located just south of the junction with Clear Gulch. There is parking for one or two cars in front of the permanently locked gate. A home is located just across the gulch with dogs barking at anything in the vicinity. There are no signs of any sort - you have to know where you're going ahead of time on this one. The south side of Clear Gulch along which the road starts is BLM land while that to the north including Little Bally is part of Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Trinity Wilderness. The old jeep road hasn't seen vehicle travel in decades but appears to get some foot traffic, probably hunters during deer season. The trail requires mild bushwhacking throughout its 3mi length. The first segment that follows the creek upstream is in dense oak forest with a lush understory that contains some poison oak to watch out for. The creek crossing after half a mile can be difficult in times of high water, but I found little trouble in keeping my feet dry today. Once on the north side of the creek the road switchbacks and begins to climb as it makes its way onto Tunnel Ridge over much drier terrain. It is not a particularly scenic hike. Most of the route is at too low an elevation for much in the way of views and the brush is a regular annoyance. Animals and some people have kept the the route serviceable, but pleasant it is not. Buckthorn in the lower reaches gives way to manzanita as one climbs higher. Some pine forest offer short respites. It took about an hour and a half to reach the summit where there are, finally, some views. One looks south upon the SR299 corridor along the Trinity River. To the north you can just make out the lookout tower at Weaver Bally. The brush between the two and the difficultly of the route is fully evident - executing it will be left as an exercise for some future adventurer (I'd really love to hear a tale of someone trying this). The return went much faster and by 2:30p I was back at the van.

Red Hill

For a final bit of fun I went searching through the Junction City backwoods looking for this named summit along the south side of the Trinity River. There are all sorts of twisty roads and more homes than one would think this part of the state could support, but eventually I found my way to the gravel part of Lake Rd past a blue house lying just south of Red Hill's "summit". It appears to have no prominence at all, but probably looks more hill-like when viewed from the north across the Trinity River. The earth here is a bright orange color which probably lends itself to the name (why does nothing get named "Orange Hill"?). After this small diversion it was time to call it a day, hiking-wise. I stopped in Weaverville for some refreshment and dinner before heading east back to Buckhorn Summit where I would spent the night.

Continued...


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