Bull Run Rock
Pinecrest Peak
Peak 8,844ft P300
Peak 8,820ft P300
Peak 7,872ft P300
Peak 8,250ft P300
Dodge Ridge

Wed, Sep 29, 2021
Bull Run Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2

I took an overnight trip to the Stanislaus NF, giving me two days to visit some peaks I had tried to reach earlier in the year. At that time, many of the more obscure forest roads had not yet been cleared of downfall and rocks, and some of the ones at higher elevations were still closed due to snow and mud, needing time to dry out. With last week opening up general hunting season, I figured that by now the Forest Service would have taken care of all the roads they were going to open for the year. This turned out to be true from my observations. Luckily, the Stanislaus NF was not affected this year by serious fires as were a number of others in the Sierra (Eldorado, Sequoia, Plumas), and had no fire closures. Most of these summits were near drive-ups and half were not very interesting. Only two of them required any significant hiking. Most of the roads were driveable by any vehicle with even moderate clearance. I had left San Jose around 7:30a, getting me to the first of these before 11a.

Bull Run Rock

Sean Casserly had visited this one earlier in the summer and had told me a rope was needed. So I carried a rope and some gear in case it proved necessary. I was able to park within about 1/3mi off the main Forest Route 4N12. The route is all cross-country, up a mix of moderate brush and forest. The heaviest manzanita can be avoided by loooking for paths around it. The summit block, consisting of volcanic conglomerate, sits to the west of what is shown as the highpoint on LoJ. It is imposing, about 25-30ft in height and vertical or overhanging on all sides. At first glance, I thought I had little chance of getting up the thing, even with the gear I had carried. On more careful inspection, I found several ways up. The east side has a large cedar tree growing adjacent to the rock. The trick there seemed to be getting up to the first branch, and then transitioning to the rock after climbing up 20ft. The west side has a vertical crack that was the only other route I thought doable. I decided to give that a try, finding the rock quite solid, but trusting little as I went up. I was nervous, but not so much that I couldn't pause halfway up to take a picture looking down. The upper part is easier class 3. I found a small cairn, evidence that others had been up it, but no register. I left one before descending the tree route. This worked better than I had guessed, and the easier of the two routes. At the top, there is a large rock shelf that makes stepping from the rock to the tree easier. Not all the tree branches were alive, so I was careful to step on them close to the main trunk. They felt very solid. I worked my way down the tree from branch to branch, thinking I'd have to hang and drop off the lowest one. But I was happy to find a smaller, live branch hanging down that made the last step work without having to drop. This would also facilitate the first move off the ground if used to ascend. Happy with my success, I headed back to the Jeep.

Pinecrest Peak

This is one of the lame ones. Short hike to poor views due to the large extent of the summit, no obvious highpoint. Pick one of the summit boulders and call it good.

Peak 8,844ft

This, too, is a near drive-up, off a road that requires 4WD (without 4WD, the hike isn't all that far from the Coyote Meadows TH to the east). The summit is open to views with a 5-foot boulder serving as the highpoint. The hike is all of about 150ft from the 4WD trail.

Peak 8,820ft

Like Bull Run Rock, this summit is composed of volcanic conglomerate. It covers a much larger area, but has a class 2-3 route to the summit from the north side. I parked about half a mile from the summit at a locked gate, walking the road for 2/3 the distance, then steeply up the east side of the summit. I went up an unnecessary class 3-4 route on the east side to reach a lower east summit. Better to continue around the base of the conglomerate to the easier access from the north side. I left a register on this one, too. I noted there was an interesting tunnel/chimney on the west side, but decided against squeezing through it because I thought it led to a cliff. On the way down, I went around the west side to check it out from below - it looks like it would go class 3-4, but I didn't feel like reascending it. I'd be love to hear from a future visitor how it worked out.

Peak 7,872ft

This summit is located within the Emigrant Wilderness. I had earlier driven by the Waterhouse Lake TH, and noted my GPSr showed a trail descending to the lake, adjacent to Peak 7,872ft. It's about 2mi each way, so I decided to add this one at the last minute, and glad I did. The trail hadn't been cleared of downfall and appears to be little-used, but at least it was easy to follow and not that much downfall. The TH is actually higher than the summit, requiring one to descend to the South Fork Stanislaus River drainage. I followed the trail south to the edge of the forest where the slope drops off more dramatically. Ducks lead down, eventually turning southeast and east towards the lake. Peak 7,872ft is a small granite dome rising southeast of the lake. I left the ducks to head more directly towards it, ascending slabs and modest brush from the west side. It has a class 3 summit block that can be climbed from the north or east side. The views from the summit were quite nice, overlooking a granite wonderland that stretches over much of the Emigrant Wilderness and Northern Yosemite. One could easily spend months exploring the various canyons, drainages, domes and ridges. After leaving a register, I descended the north side of the dome, down steeper slabs than I had found on the west side. It was more challenging, but fun, taking me down to the shore of Waterhouse Lake. I wandered through forest and a fern maze to the northwest side of the lake, looking for the terminus of the trail shown on my GPSr. I found several nice campsites and a use trail as well, but I could not follow it along the route up through the cliffs as shown on the GPSr. It seems that brush has obscured the old route (if it ever existed), which is why the ducks now lead much further west, where I'd descended from the trail initially. There are many ducks in fact, tracing multiple routes up the slabs, and I followed a variation on the ascent before reconnecting with the original route. By 4p I was back at the TH. Normally, I would probably have called it a day at this point, but since I had gotten a late start, I had more energy for some added fun.

Peak 8,250ft

I spent the next hour driving back out to SR108, west to Pinecrest, then up towards the Dodge Ridge Ski Area and back into the national forest on Crabtree Rd to the Crabtree TH. The roads are mostly paved, accessible by any vehicle. The parking area is large and the trailhead appears to be quite popular - there were more than a dozen vehicles scattered about. There are multiple trails into the Emigrant Wilderness from here, leading to Lake Valley, Camp Lake, and Pine Valley. Peak 8,250ft is found on the edge of the Wilderness, above Camp Lake. One could take the trail to Camp Lake and then climb up to the peak from there, but the shorter route (about 3.5mi roundtrip) goes more directly up from the northwest and west. I was on the trail to Camp Lake only a short distance before starting up cross-country through a mix of moderate brush and forest. The thicker brush was on the lower slopes, eventually giving way to lower, ankle-high brush above. There is a section of heavy downfall just below the summit ridge that made for slow going. I did a better job of avoiding this on the way down by descending more to the west. Once on the summit ridge, the highpoint is found another 1/3mi further east. It took me an hour to reach the summit, composed of granite slabs and wide-open views overlooking the Wilderness. It was a nice little perch with the magic hour softly coloring the landscape. Someone had left a "21" formed of small rocks at the summit, perhaps Kerry Breen, who'd visited a few months earlier? I left a last register here before heading back much the same way. I got back to the trail as the sun ducked behind a ridge to the west, all the sunlight gone for the day before I got back to the TH.

Dodge Ridge

This one is a pretty lame near drive-up. I drove about 25min from the Crabtree TH to the forest road (4N33) that passes just under the summit on the northeast side. I went up in the failing light to grab a quick photo from the forested summit and then back down before it was too dark to keep from tripping over all the forest duff. It was after 7p by this time, but I decided to drive another hour or so to set me up for the next day's peaks. I took a shower where I parked for Dodge Ridge, then put on some fresh clothes and got out a beer for the last bit of driving. Good times...


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