I'd worked through the NorCal P1Ks I had planned in two days rather than the
expected three, leaving me with a free day to make it up as I go along. This
was more a grab-bag of stuff on the last of a three day road trip - a P2K, a
P1K, and a couple of bonus peaks in Solano County as a way to break up the
drive home. I spent the night camped in the Jeep on Hatchet Mtn, rising in the
morning before 6a. I breakfasted as I drove back down the road to the highway,
gassed up in Burney, then headed out for the first stop of the day.
This old volcano rises about 6mi south of Burney in Lassen National Forest.
It is overshadowed by two other dominate P2Ks to the south, Crater Peak and Mt.
Lassen, but is fairly prominent itself as viewed on the drive along SR299 and
SR89. There is an improved road on the west side of the mountain going up to the
lookout tower that crowns the summit. With only a modest amount of snow showing
on the north side
of the mountain, I figured the road might be clear, and even
with a little snow the Jeep might be up to the challenge - it seemed worth a
try. I headed south from SR299 a few miles west of Burney on Tamarack Rd. Most
of the land the road goes through is owned by logging interests and there is
throughout the area. After a number of miles, a junction is
reached with Forest Road 26 (34N19), with a sign
indicating Burney Mtn Lookout
11mi heading east. I followed this to the base of the mountain on its southwest
side, the turned left (unsigned) for the long drive up. The road was in decent
shape for high-clearance vehicles, but I wouldn't have wanted to take the van
up. The road had been cleared of snow, but the bulldozer treads left the
road churned up a bit in places. There is much rock
on the upper half of the
mountain where not much seems to grow. I was unfortunate to find myself driving
into a cloudbank created at the summit
by winds blowing across the mountain.
It was 34F outside and probably 30mph winds and here I come driving up in a
tshirt and shorts. My outside visit was extremely short - long enough to snap
a photo of the summit benchmark and then dive back into the Jeep. There
were some views below the cloud layer including a nice one of
Hatchet Mtn and its windmills that I had visited the previous evening,
but mostly it was a long drive for poor views.
This P1K lies to the west
of Burney Mtn and Tamarack Rd in a detached part of
Lassen NF. I could find no information on this one, apparently without ascents
on PB or LoJ. I was hoping to find a way there utilizing the rediculous amout of
logging roads in the area, but that was not as easy in practice as I had hoped.
Roads shown on the topo maps were often inaccessible through disuse or blocked
by downfall. Logging roads were hard to use because they most often ended
abruptly - they are designed to get to a logging area, not as through roads. The
most promising road I found leading up to the edge of the forest boundary was
gated closed on private lands. After about an hour of such forest wandering, I
gave up and headed back to SR299. It appears there may be accessible roads from
the west and north and will have to wait for some future endeavor.
This is a small volcanic plug
in the lowlands northeast of Red Bluff, just high
enough to qualify as a P1K. Access is easy enough to the lookout-crowned summit,just be careful about following Google Map directions. Coming from the north, it
directed me to a terribly overgrown road
that appears to go through private property. I backed off this one and went to
the better gravel road closer to
SR36. The land on both sides of the road are part of a private hunting club, but
the road itself is public, despite the signs on either side that try to suggest
otherwise. There is a gate
just below the summit with a short walk to the top.
There are two points of similar height. The west summit
has some poison oak to dance around, the east summit has
the lookout tower, both have benchmarks. The views
take in the rolling hills of the upper end of the Sacramento River Valley,
not terribly dramatic, but nice.
A few hours driving got me to Vacaville near the I-505/I-80 junction. Peak 968ft
is the highpoint of the Pena Adobe & Lagoon Valley Park and the surround open
space. The area seems equally popular with mountain bikers,
trail runners and
hikers. I took a variation of the GPS track provided by Brett Moffatt on PB,
utilizing the free parking on Butcher Rd next to I-80, and
wandering in on one of the various trails that criss-cross
through the area, mostly unsigned. The hills were a lovely green,
unlike most other parts
of the state that have already turned to the more usual golden brown.
With a modest amount of confusion, I eventually found my way to
the telecom installation
at the highpoint where I found half a dozen other folks, all
seeming to have been called to the same mystical point
by some mysterious
force. The highpoint has been bulldozed, so no need to breach the security fence
to claim the summit. On the way back I took another track closer to the eastern
boundary of the park (which butts up against a state prison on that side),
past a rather large oak with swing, a couple of other
(can't have enough cell towers overlooking the 10 lanes of Interstate 80), and
eventually down the access road to a bridge over Alamo Creek back near the
start. I was a bit worried that I'd wandered down into a trap with a
locked gate, but
was happy to find it unlocked and just a short walk back to the car.
This one is located just across the freeway from Pena Adobe Park. Kudos to David
Sanger for finding the easy way to access it. The summit and surrounding area
are on private property, but they abutt a neglected parcel of Vacaville City
Open Space that can be accessed
through a suburban neighborhood on the east side at the end
of Grandview Drive. There are no trails in the Open Space and
if you choose the wrong time to visit you can end up with socks full of
thistles. I arrived perhaps a few weeks before this tragic turn of events,
finding the cross-country over grass and oak-covered slopes
picturesque. There are cow trails to make this a bit easier, too.
There appears to be some construction on the private property,
foundations for new ranch homes, perhaps.
Halfway to Peak 670ft, one must cross a barbed-wire fence between the public
properties. A hole has been cut in the lower part of the fence just south of
the saddle the fence runs across. From there, one can follow old ranch roads
to the summit with swell views overlooking Vacaville,
I-80, and the higher
hills to the north. It was after 6p by the time I returned to Grandview Dr,
with about an hour more driving to get me home to San Jose...