Cane Peak is located on the north side of Wofford Heights and SR155, west of
Lake Isabella. The French
Fire swept around and through parts of the forest community earlier in the
summer. I was struck by how close the fire had gotten to many of the homes
without burning them. In some cases, the fire would sweep through the yards
between homes, crossing roads and driveways, the home almost miraculously
untouched. This minor peak lies below Split Mtn, near the BLM lands and the
edge of the Sequoia National Forest. Most of it seems to be surrounded by
private homes, making access difficult. Recently, while looking at satellite
views, I noticed to the southwest a dirt road that Google labels as "Easement."
That's an inviting name.
It appears to provide access to a corner of BLM land about a quarter mile
from SR155 (also called Evans Rd). I had driven in on this road the night
before and slept in a large, flat clearing near the defunct Regan Mine.
In the morning, I was up before sunrise, starting off at 6:45a.
The road is blocked just past the clearing by a pole laid sideways
across the road. Past this, the road switchbacks down to
the gulch on the west side of Cane Peak. A backhoe is found
there, used to do some clean-up work after the fire. Once on the other side,
I went up the steep, torched slope to gain the South Ridge where I found
a wide firebreak had been bulldozed all the way up to the summit. It
did not stop the fire from sweeping over the mountain, but the fire
was arrested just before reaching the homes at the base on the east and south
sides. I walked up the firebreak to reach the open summit in about 20min's time.
There are good views of Black Mtn to the west, Split Mtn to
the north, Lake Isabella and Wofford Heights to the southeast.
Clouds from a weak storm and smoke from the Sequoia Fires combined to wash out
much of the distance views. I'm not sure if the summit is owned by an individual
or the community collectively, as there were no signs or fences that I came
across anywhere on the route. I returned back
the same way.
This summit is found on the west side of Lake Isabella on lands managed by the
USFS. There is a dirt road from SR155 going over a saddle on the northwest side
of the summit, but it is blocked by a locked gate at the highway. It is used to
access a private inholding on BLM lands west of the USFS lands.
Alternatively, the Isabella Peak Trail gets you to the summit in about 1.5mi,
starting from the Hungry Gulch campground. The CG was closed on my
visit, but I simply parked on the east side of the highway and walked to
the trailhead. At an unsigned fork just past the TH, I turned left to
follow the path going around and partially up the east side of Pt.
3,296ft (a PB-only summit). Isabella Peak comes into view to the south
near another trail junction. The left fork traverses the south side of Pt.
3,296ft to the aforementioned saddle, then spiraling up to Isabella
Peak, taking about 25min. There is a 15-foot class 3 summit block that
can be surmounted on the north or west side, not terribly difficult. There is a
view bench on the east side of the summit block, near
the benchmark. There are good views of the lake to the east and
south. On my way back, I paid a visit to Pt. 3,295ft,
Isabella's higher neighbor with better views. For some added fun, I
descended the north side of Pt. 3,295ft cross-country down steep, grassy slopes
to intersect another branch of the trail system on that side. This easily led
back to the campground and the trailhead I'd started from. It wasn't yet 9a
when I finished up, but I'd run out of summits in the area and decided
to head for home...