Fattebort Hill
Wolf Mountain P300
American Ranch Hill
Gold Hill
Sugarloaf Mountain
Cement Hill
Ophir Hill
Osborne Hill P300
Sonntag Hill P300
Banner Mountain P500
Peak 3,860ft P300
Quaker Hill
Peak 4,100ft P300
Buckeye Ridge
Burlington Ridge
Washington Ridge
Union Hill
Zion Hill

May 29, 2024
Etymology
Sugarloaf Mountain
Banner Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GPX

Less than a week later I was back in Nevada County, visiting a number of summits in the triangle between I-80, SR49, and SR20. Most of these had been visited others with TRs on PB that I made good use of in my planning beforehand. Most of these were rather short, allowing me to collect 18 LoJ summits on a pretty full day. I'd left San Jose before 6a, making the 2.5hr drive across the Central Valley and through Sacramento, always a joy, to get started before 9:30a.

Fattebort Hill

This hill is located in a rural development SW of Lake of the Pines, an upscale golf and boating development between Auburn and Grass Valley. The highpoint is just west of paved Ridge Top Ct, in someone's front yard.

Wolf Mountain

A near drive-up with a lookout tower at the summit. At the end of Wolf Mtn Rd there is a gate around the lookout and telecom installation, but breaching it is not so difficult. The highpoint appears to be at the lookout which has its own fortification, considerably more difficult, with razor wire all around. Robert Luher reported the lookout staffed in June, 2022, but it was not today.

American Ranch Hill

This is a named summit with little prominence on the way to Wolf Mountain, that I visited on a whim, not researching ahead of time. I parked off Wolf Mountain Rd east of the summit and headed cross-country through grass, forest and manzanita. There are no fencing or signage, but when I crossed a gravel road I suspected this was private property. Sure enough, I found a nice home at the summit. Highpoint appears to be just east of the home in some woods. Creep factor on this one.

Gold Hill

This is located in Grass Valley, sporting little prominence. There is an historical landmark at the corner of Jenkins St and Hocking Ave, where gold was discovered in 1850. The highpoint is along Hocking Ave.

Sugarloaf Mountain

These next two are located in Nevada City. Sugarloaf is the highpoint of Sugarloaf Mountain Open Space. A gated road, open to foot traffic, winds its way to the summit from Coyote St, east of the mountain. Parking is limited, but I found a shady spot to park on N. Bloomfield-Graniteville Rd. The summit is a small, flat meadow with surrounding trees. Three view benches are situated looking north, south and southwest. It's a little more than 10min to the summit.

Cement Hill

This is the highpoint of what used to be the Nevada City Airport. One can drive most of the way to the top via Airport Rd, leaving a short walk from where it is gated. The top is strewn with construction materials, likely by the city or county public works. There is a network of trails on the west side of the airport as shown on Google Maps, but I didn't explore these.

Ophir Hill

Ophir Hill is located within the Empire Mine State Historic Park. There is a network of trails open to equestrians, biking, and hiking. I parked at the Calvary Bible Church off SR174 and used the Orleans Trail to reach the summit, a short distance off the trail in the woods. The hike is less than five minutes each way.

Osborne Hill

Found less than 2mi south of Ophir Hill, this one is on private property off Osborne Hill Rd. The road is signed for No Trespassing, but I drove up a short ways to a telecom installation just west of the highpoint. You can walk to the edge of a fence to get within about 50ft.

Sonntag Hill

Found about four miles east of Osborne Hill and east of SR174, Sonntag Hill Rd winds its way to the summit where a group of rural homes are found. The highpoint is just off the roadway in someone's yard.

Banner Mountain

The next four summits are all found along Banner Lava Cap Rd/Banner Quaker Hill Rd, paved until east of Scotts Flat Reservoir, then becoming dirt as it enters public and private forest lands. Banner Mtn has a tall lookout tower and telecom installations at the summit. A drive-up, it is surrounded by a fence and gate with razor wire, but easy enough for a body to slip through the gap in the gate. A 1932 benchmark can be found at the base of the lookout.

Peak 3,860ft

Located on private property, I drove to the end of Victorian Ct where a few rural homes are located. Highpoint appears to be in the backyard of the easternmost home. It might be possible to get closer by approaching from the southeast off Banner Quaker Hill Rd, but the creep factor is high on this one.

Quaker Hill

The highpoint appears to be along paved Summit Ridge Rd with homes on either side, an easy drive-by.

Peak 4,100ft

This summit lies on Sierra Pacific forest lands, with portions of the mountain being actively logged during my visit. Forest Road 424-8 off Quaker Hill Rd (now dirt) goes nearly to the summit, but it is gated a short distance from the main road, leaving a mile-long hike to the summit. I believe it is not normally gated, but there is a string of trailers along the summit ridge, probably the temporary quarters for the nearby loggers. I walked past these to visit the two competing contours just off the roadway. There is much slash strewn about, making for uneven walking, but at least no bushwhacking. The eastern contour appears to be incorrect as it has no prominence and is clearly lower than the western point. The topo map shows a saddle of at least 40ft between the two points, but this, too, is erroneous since there isn't more than 10ft of difference along the ridge. Interestingly, PB now has a point near this non-existent saddle as the highpoint based on LiDAR data, but I don't believe this to be accurate - the western contour measured as the highpoint on my GPSr. I welcome a more thorough survey on the area.

Buckeye Ridge

Buckeye Ridge is found to the south, across Greenhorn Creek. I made a long diversion in that direction on windy forest roads for 20min, all so I could walk the two minutes to the summit buried in forest. Fun driving, but hardly worth the effort save for completion's sake.

Burlington Ridge

It would take an hour of driving to retrace my route from Buckeye Ridge, then east out to SR20, then off on another Forest road leading to Burlington Ridge and another two minute walk through open forest to its highpoint.

Washington Ridge

This ridge is found north of Burlington Ridge, across Deer Creek and SR20. Forest Road 20-8-1 leads nearly to the summit but is gated at SR20. Still, it takes less than 15min to hike the road and a bit of cross-country to reach the summit, again buried in forest.

Union Hill

This was the only real hike of the day, about 1.5mi each way. It is located in a scenic area between SR20 and Bowman Lake Rd, southeast of Lake Spaulding. It has only recently been added to PB as LiDAR data showed it to just make the 300ft of prominence. It is found on land owned by PG&E and is not easy to reach. On a previous visit, I found Lake Spaulding Rd gated and closed. A PG&E worker I came across said there is no scheduled opening date as they are doing extended work in the area. Further, the road before the gate is entirely signed for No Parking. After more research, I decided to try approaching from the southwest, along a transmission line cut through the forest. A flume crosses this cut, but the satellite view shows a footbridge over the flume, conveniently. A flume service road starts off Bowman Lake Rd but is quickly gated and signed for No Trespassing. The satellite view shows the fence is not continuous and easy to walk around. I parked behind some trees off the service road and headed up from there. The first leg to the flume is easy on the good road. One then heads uphill cross-country under the transmission line. I found this slope brushy and seeping water and I managed to soak a boot, unexpectedly. Higher up there are other service roads for the transmission line, some in poor shape. Where the tranmission line splits in two at a saddle south of the summit, I headed cross-country uphill, mostly on granite slabs and rock to avoid brushy ravines. On the northwest side of the summit there is a minor cliff with a small pond at the base. It was class 3 going up directly on that side - it may be easier if one were to walk around to the northeast side. There is a small antenna at the summit, no longer in service. There are nice views from the open summit, especially to the northeast to Lake Spaulding and the higher summits around Grouse Ridge. I left a register here before heading back the same way, taking a little under two hours for the roundtrip effort, easily the best summit of the day.

Zion Hill

At 6,200ft, Zion Hill was the highest summit of the day. It is located at the SW end of Blue Lake. The lake can be reached by high-clearance Rucker Lake Rd off paved Bowman Lake Rd. It took me about half an hour to drive from Union Hill to the gate near the end of the road just below the dam at Blue Lake. After hiking the remaining distance of road up to the lake, there are several social trails that can be used to get one to the summit in about 15min. It makes for an enjoyable walk over alpine terrain with fine views south to Lake Spaulding and north to Grouse Ridge, the highest point in the area. It was made nicer by the fine lighting in the last hour of daylight. It was after 7:30a when I finished up. I planned to make a second attempt in a week at Grouse Ridge the next morning, so I didn't drive very far back down Rucker Lake Rd before finding a place to camp for the night...

Continued...


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