Bald Mountain P750
Prospect Hill 2x P300
Peak 3,400ft
Peak 4,200ft
Peak 4,760ft
Nickowitz Peak P750
Peak 4,346ft P300
Blue Creek Mountain P1K
Onion Mountain P300 CC
Schoolhouse Peak
Peak 2,682ft P300
Holter Ridge P300

Mon, Oct 28, 2019
Bald Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX
Prospect Hill previously climbed Thu, Jun 6, 2019


Day 3 of a CA North Coast trip was the most productive, though oddly very few of the peaks had any views in comparison to the previous two days. Probably due to the Six Rivers NF being closer to the coast than the Klamath NF I'd been touring, resulting in wetter, brushier and tree-ier conditions. It was a hodge-podge of summits including a P1K and a CC-listed summit. My main objectives were these two summits, a pair I had tried to reach back in June, but was stopped by a locked gate enforcing an effort to prevent the spread of a root fungus disease in the area. My plan was to approach the peaks from the north this time, a much longer route (34mi, one-way from SR96), but hopefully not gated. This worked out nicely, a combination of the G-O Road and Forest Road 13, both paved all the way to the second summit. Along the way I picked off a number of peaks I missed on that earlier roadtrip, mostly short distances from the road. Afterwards, I headed south and into Redwoods NP from the backside to tackle what I thought was the park highpoint at Schoolhouse Peak. The next day, Bob Sumner informed me that new sections were added to the park, bringing a new highpoint (like 10yrs ago, so I'm waaay behind the ball on this one) with it. Of course I drove right by the actual highpoint, an easy mile hike from the road.

Bald Mtn

With just under 900ft of prominence, Bald Mtn narrowly missed my attention on the earlier trip, but would be my first stop on this one. I had gotten up early while it was still dark to do almost an hour of driving to reach the start for Bald Mtn. About ten minutes later and I wouldn't have needed a headlamp at all. The short hike went through forest with lots of downfall and some brush that could be skirted by traversing to the right as I approached from the south. I found nothing "bald" about the summit at all, covered in trees and without views. As I was starting back from what I judged the highpoint, I stumbled upon the USFS benchmark mostly by accident. It was completely generic, without any identifying stamp on it at all.

Prospect Hill

Found just to the east off G-O Road, this was an exceedingly easy summit I had visited on that first trip. Returning to the view-less point next to an old quarry with a defunct utility shed was nothing short of shamelesss stat-padding.

Peak 3,400ft

This soft-ranked summit is hidden from view from the G-O Road, down in the recesses of the Hines Creek drainage. Though not far from the main road, I followed a spur road down into the drainage to get closer. The summit elevation is actually below the start of the spur road. I hiked along an old road now blocked to vehicles, then a short stint up a steep slope under heavy forest cover and plenty of downfall, but mostly unvegetated under the canopy. I found nothing of interest at the summit and apparently didn't even remember to take a photo of it.

Peak 4,200ft

This second soft-ranked summit (I had avoided all the soft-ranked points on my first visit because there were too many objectives for the time I had then) is just off the righthand side of the road. I parked at the saddle WNW of the summit and followed an old firebreak up to the summit in ten minutes. No views at all.

Peak 4,760ft

Another easy sort-ranked summit, this one also had mild cross-country and ten minutes of effort to reach the top. Many of the trees at the summit had succumbed to fire damage and the brush was thickest here, though hardly a problem. Some views were available due to the fire damage.

Nickowitz Peak

There are several USFS signs pointing the way to Nickowitz Peak, leading me to believe it was a drive-up or nearly so, as indicated on the topo map. A good spur road forks off Forest Road 13, the sign indicating 6mi to the peak. One can only drive 4mi of the road towards the summit (though one can take another spur that goes around the summit and continues south and west). The last two miles have been blocked to traffic by a huge cavity dug in the road. Apparently the road beyond here was made very dangerous by washouts and mudslides. Many logs have since fallen over the road though it can still be navigated on foot and offers the best way to the summit on an otherwise very brushy peak. At the end of the road, there's still a quarter mile to the summit with very dense brush to start, but this gets easier as one nears the viewless summit. I had really expected more from this one, but no views, no register, just a few pieces of orange tape stapled to some trees nearby. The four mile roundtrip effort took an hour and a half, the longest outing of the day.

Peak 4,346ft

Continuing on to Blue Creek Mtn, this is an easy bonus peak that takes less than 20min for the roundtrip. Completely forested, the understory offers reasonably easy travel but again no views at the summit.

Blue Creek Mountain

This P1K is also the most prominent summit in Del Norte County, the last of the CA County Prominence peaks for me in the state. Despite its prominence, it's really a bit of a let-down. The top has been partially bulldozed, quite large and an exact highpoint hard to pinpoint. Not really good views either, despite the large clearing, and as close to a drive-up as you can get in this neck of the woods. I walked around a bit anyway, but decided I could just as well have stayed in the jeep.

Onion Mountain

This CC-listed summit turned out to be a little more interesting than I had expected, most notably as a classic bushwhack. Parking on the north side off a spur road going to Onion Lake, I went at a deliberately slow pace, taking my time to get through the dense thickets, finding it an enjoyable experience. It took about 20min to make my way to the summit area where I thought the northernmost rock outcrop might be the highpoint. I persevered for several hundred more feet through heavy manzanita to find a second rock outcrop that measured nearly equal height but had a benchmark. I decided this made a slightly better summit and left a register here. There were actually some decent views to be had, too, including west to the Pacific Ocean.

I had hoped to continue driving south on FR 13 down to the highway, but a sign regarding the root fungus suggested I might find the road closed after another nine miles. After some deliberating, I decided not to chance the road closure, choosing to instead reverse the 34mi of driving I'd taken from the longer direction. At least it was all paved, taking just over an hour to get back to the highway at Orleans.

Schoolhouse Peak

A second hour of driving would be consumed in getting to Schoolhouse Peak. The portion on SR96 was smooth and fast, but those on SR169 and Bald Hills Rd were narrow, windy, and slow. Most of the roads were paved at least, and it was only the last mile or so within the national park that was gravel (well graded for any vehicle). A spur road leading up to the lookout on Schoolhouse Peak is gated not far from the road, but there is a small turnout for several vehicles just below the gate. I walked up the remaining road to the lookout, closed and shuttered, but in good working order. There is a picnic table below on the grassy knoll with fine, unobstructed views overlooking the park, but somewhat hazy in the late afternoon with the sun glaring obtrusively. The actual highpoint is a short walk up the gently sloping hill, all covered in tall, brown grass, completely unlike anything I'd hiked in the past few days. I found the benchmark among the grasses, but couldn't really pick it out as the highest point. Anyway, it seems the real park highpoint is a few miles to the south at Coyote Ridge. Guess it'll have to wait until the next time I'm out this way.

Peak 2,682ft / Holter Ridge

After returning to the jeep from Schoolhouse Peak, I took a shower in the semi-warm sun of the last afternoon, thinking I was done for the day. Continuing on the road down to the coast, I noticed there were a couple of easy bonus peaks I could hit up on the way down. Both lie on the eastern edge of the park boundary. The first had a cross-country effort to reach the top, the other a gated dirt road going over the double-humped summit. They were easy enough that I didn't worry about ruining my shower, just little jaunts to keep me warm in the fading afternoon light.

I reached the coast after sunset and enjoyed the drive south to Eureka where I had dinner before going off to find a place to spend the night. It wasn't the best of spots, just off US101 with some road noise most of the night, but it worked well enough...


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