Peak 5,740ft P300
Scott Hill P500
Texas Hill
Peak 5,784ft
Big Valley Bluff

May 24, 2024
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


The second day of an overnight trip was supposed to be a full one exploring USFS roads south of I-80 near Emigrant Gap. I found some of the roads I had planned to travel had not yet been cleared of downfall, and I ended up calling it quits after half a day. I had camped off Bowman Lake Rd on the north side of the Interstate, up early to do about an hour of driving to get me to the start of the day's first peak.

Peak 5,740ft

This one is fairly close to I-80 and has a short drive leading up to it from the north and east, but as Marcus Sierra points out in his TR on PB, this is well-signed for No Trespassing. So I took the long way, via paved Texas Hill Rd and dirt Sailor Point Rd. These were in decent shape that most vehicles could drive. A lesser Forest road, FR1922 forks left off Sailor Point Rd and got me within a mile of the summit. Though no longer driveable, the road continues some, heading northeast just below the ridge before petering out. I found the remnants of the continuing road, a campsite, random ducks and some brush on the remaining cross-country. As Marcus further points out, it's easier to stay below top of the ridge until the very end where the summit is located. This avoids heavy manzanita along the ridge and makes for a more pleasant outing. I was about half an hour getting to the highpoint and similarly on the way back.

Scott Hill

Scott Hill is located a short distance west of Texas Hill Rd. As shown on the topo map, a spur road is gated at Texas Hill Rd, but provides roads to walk on for the first quarter mile, leavng another half mile of cross-country to the summit. It's a bit brushy to start, but old logging roads make things easier and the understory becomes mostly clear in the upper half. There are some lovely dogwood trees found in this mixed forest. The summit is found in a brushy thicket with no views due to the surrounding forest.

Texas Hill

This is nearly a drive-up, requiring less than 5min to walk to the summit from the forest road (FR161) that passes to the south. The forest understory is mostly tame with some low manzanita to dance around. The summit and surrounding area (that takes in the next two summits as well) were burned in the 2008 Government Fire. Many of the trees survived nicely and the understory is recovering well, too.

Peak 5,784ft

This is another mostly drive-up, found on the miles-long Sawtooth Ridge that rises above the north side of the North Fork American River. Trees at the summit block much of the views, but there is a nice one looking east to Big Valley Bluff.

Big Valley Bluff

I had intended to continue west along Sawtooth Ridge for a trio of additional summits that Marcus had visited in 2021. I did not get the chance to make use of his TRs on PB as I found a Pacific Sierra crew clearing downfall, still miles from the first of these. They would not be finished until the end of the day, so I would have to come back and tackle this later in the season. Instead, I turned east for a last one in this area, Big Valley Bluff. A Forest road goes over the highpoint to reach the site of a lookout that once stood overlooking the river 3,500ft below. At 6,400ft, I was worried that snow would have the road closed, much as downfall had closed the previous one. I was happy to find that I could drive Texas Hill Road (now changed to dirt) to over 6,200ft, getting me within about a mile of the summit before the snow stopped me. I started on the road initially, but left it when I noticed there was more snow on the road than the ridge above. I reconnected with the road past Pt. 6,409ft where the snow disappeared thanks to the sun-facing aspect. Though the hike was nothing special, the summit area is pretty neat with views looking down on the deep canyon forged by the American River, both upriver and down. I walked past the highpoint to the end of the road where the concrete footings can be found from the old lookout. Views up and downriver were even better from this rocky perch. It was just past noon by the time I returned to the Jeep where I decided to call it a day. I couldn't drive any further up Texas Hill Rd and would spend a great deal of time driving out to I-80 and back up on some other Forest road. Quitting early would allow me to get through Sacramento and home to San Jose without any traffic, so I didn't mind all that much. I would be back soon enough...

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