Bald Mountain P1K
Blacks Mountain P1K
Harvey Mountain P1K PD
Crater Mountain P1K PD
Bogard Buttes West P900 PD
Bogard Buttes East P300 PD
Campbell Mountain P750
Antelope Mountain P1K
Whaleback Mountain P900
Mahogany Peak P900

Wed, Sep 25, 2019
Bald Mountain
Whaleback Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 GPX Profile


Today was the only full day of a short, 3-day roadtrip to Northern California. I was in Lassen National Forest chasing down a collection of P1Ks and P900s with a few bonus peaks thrown in for good measure. Most of these are ancient volcanoes, weathered and forested now, though some had open views and a few sported lookout towers. The hikes were mostly short, taking less than an hour, with as much or more time spent driving between the summits.

Bald Mountain

This was the only real hike with 1,600ft of gain, though the mileage was pretty short at 2.5mi roundtrip. The peak lies on the northern edge of Lassen NF, about 10mi east of the SR299/SR89 junction. Excellent Forest Road 22 heads east from SR89, climbing up to Hat Creek Rim before turning southeast about 5mi south of Bald Mtn. A good spur road can get any vehicle to the Bald Mtn Reservoir (a puny body of shallow water) at the base of the mountain on the south side. A rougher, unmaintained track gets you closer, taking you around the west side where I started from. This side of the mountain is moderately brushy and some meandering is needed to avoid the thickest places. As one climbs higher, the brush relents some with the gradient. It took about 50min to find my way to the top where I found a benchmark and open views all around. I left a register here before heading back via the same route.

Blacks Mountain

Blacks is located 13mi southeast of Bald Mtn. Back on FR22, I continued east to FR111, then south to Halls Flat southeast of Blacks Mtn. There are probably better roads I could have used from there, but I followed a series of so-so forest roads east and up to reach the better Blacks Mtn Loop Rd. I got as close as I could on the west side of the peak and climbed up through the forest to the summit in less than ten minutes. In addition to the benchmark, I found a register placed by Lilley/MacLeod in 2009 that had only one other entry, Dennis Poulin in 2015 - a nice little find. No views from the forested summit.

Harvey Mountain

Found 8.5mi ESE of Blacks Mtn, there was much backroads driving to get between the two in a roundabout fashion. Some roads were closed, others unmaintained as I looked for roads with the most usage. There is a good road winding its way up Harvey Mountain to the manned lookout that sits atop it. John was on duty today and the first thing he asked me when I arrived was if I'd come up for the birthday. Huh? I asked if it was his birthday, but no, it was the tower's 100th birthday this year. Hard to imagine one of these things lasting that long. John was a talker and loved to share the history and intricacies of the tower's construction, the surrounding forests and valleys, and other towers as well. He was a relief lookout, spending a few days at various towers while the regular lookouts had their days off. He had spent most of his career in the Anchorage Fire Dept before coming back to the Lower 48 to work as a lookout. After getting my fill of stories, I made several attempts to extract myself from the tower before I was successful in doing so.

Crater Mountain

Crater is located about 8mi south of Harvey Mtn, not far from SR44. A good gravel/dirt road runs up from SR44 to Crater Lake, southwest of the summit where the small lake is located and a USFS campground. I used Dean Gaudet's GPX track from PB starting from a spur road on the northwest side of the summit. By following an old road track that becomes a good animal track, one can avoid the heavy manzanita that grows on the ridgeline. There is a good-sized cairn at the highpoint where another MacLeod/Lilley register from 2009 can be found. This one is slightly more popular with four pages of entries. There are only partial views available due to surrounding trees.

Bogard Buttes

This pair of minor summits are located across SR44 from Crater Mtn, to the southwest. A decent dirt road climbs from the highway to some antennae installations on the lower east butte. I first parked on the east side of the west butte to do the harder one first. The cross-country route goes up 500ft in about 0.35mi, moderately brushy but helped by use of old logging roads in the lower portions. There is a benchmark at the summit where I built a small cairn to hold a new register. No views through the trees. After returning to the jeep, I drove it part way up the eastern butte. There is a locked gate that prevents one from driving to the top. It's an easy walk no matter where one starts, taking all of about 10min. The highpoint is found at a survey marker on the south side of the small utility building. I took a more direct line on the descent, skipping the upper part of the road that makes a long-ish switchback to the southeast. There are some views from the summit looking southwest.

Campbell Mountain

After returning again to SR44, I drove south for some miles before turning northeast onto excellent Forest Road 21 towards Antelope Mtn. The road runs around the west and north sides of Campbell Mtn which seemed a worthy bonus stop. The spur roads I used going up the mountain were unmaintained and grew increasingly brushy, eventually getting me to stop when I was close enough, about 1/3mi on the northwest side. There is moderate to heavy brush covering much of the summit and it took some time to piece together a path through the stuff to get to the highpoint, a small rocky ridge with weak views. I did a better job on the way down by avoiding the heaviest brush, favoring more use of the forested areas on the north side. Not a whole lot to recommend this one.

Antelope Mountain

This was the other summit featuring a manned lookout, this time by Robert. Unlike John, he was a man of few words and though not discourteous, it seemed clear that he'd rather be left alone than entertain visitors. John had told me that this unusual lookout was built by NASA when they were testing the usefulness of solar panels back in the 1970s. The original panels are long gone, but there is a large set of newer ones at a telecom installation north of the lookout. The actual highpoint is found among some large volcanic rocks just east of the tower. I went over to visit them, wondering if there might be a register among them, but found nothing.

Whaleback Mountain

Found 3.5mi northeast of Antelope, Whaleback Mtn burned over completely in the appropriately named Whaleback Fire of 2018. From my starting point half a mile east of the summit, the place looks a bit apocalyptic. There are ghost stands of dead pine trees lower down, dead brush higher up. The plants have begun to make their comeback but have a long way to go still. I left a register at the summit knowing it was unlikely to be caught in a fire for another decade, at least.

Mahogany Peak

This last summit is found outside the national forest on lands ownded by Sierra Pacific, the massive logging interest. It is located on the southeast side of Eagle Lake, above a host of campgrounds, beaches and overlooks found on that side of the large lake. The roads I traveled up and over this mountain were all in decent shape. I parked on the west side of the summit and went up the steep slope for 1/3mi to the summit. There is much brush, but good route-finding can minimize this. Some rock scrambling can be found just below the summit, too. I managed to get up and down in half an hour, just as the sun was setting shortly before 7p. I left a register atop this one too, one of the more interesting summits of the day. Good views of Eagle Lake as well.


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