Cold Spring Mountain P900 PD
Olson Mountain P750
Mitchell Hill P500
Tule Mountain P1K
Knox Mountain P1K
Manzanita Mountain P750

Oct 6, 2019
Tule Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profile


Cold Spring Mountain

On the third day of a roadtrip in NE California chasing P1Ks, I was up before sunrise a few miles west of Cold Spring Mtn, having camped there for the night. The peak rises in an area of lower hills south of the Warner Range, part of the Great Basin. With far more acreage covered in grass and brush than trees, the BLM lands around here are primarily used for grazing. There had been a small herd of cattle not 100ft from my camp when I had pulled in, but they had moved on by morning. After breakfasting, I drove another mile and a half before parking off the dirt road on the southwest side of the mountain, the summit not visible from below. My ascent route up the slopes went more left than it should have, landing me on the summit ridge still half a mile from the top. I wasn't using the GPSr to navigate by as I usually do, relying instead on dead reckoning, and it amply showed up how much I've come to rely on the GPSr. The summit ridge was brushier than the slopes I had ascended, but not annoyingly so and I enjoyed the stroll along it with views looking off both sides. The highpoint is found at the eastern end of the ridgeline, atop a pile of volcanic rock about 30-40ft higher than the rest of the ridge. I found a benchmark and some wooden scraps from the survey tower that once stood here. The views are so-so, mostly low hills all around, Red Rock Valley and Lake to the north and northeast. With 900ft of prominence, I figured Cold Spring Mtn was deserving of a register so I left one before starting back. My return was much more direct, getting me back to the jeep in less than half an hour.

Olson Mountain

After returning from Cold Spring Mtn, I drove back west towards US395, intending to hit up Tule Mtn next. I got distracted before reaching the highway when I spotted Olson Mtn, another standalone summit with almost 800ft of prominence. I turned south off the excellent dirt/gravel Blue Lake Rd I'd been following, driving about 4mi on various rough roads through cattle country to get me within a mile of Olson on the east side. The hike goes up modestly brushy slopes, climbing about 800ft in the process. There was a badly tattered American flag on a pole at the summit with views looking west and north. After returning to the jeep I attempted to drive about 4-5mi of dirt roads to MacDonald Peak to the south but got stopped after about a mile by a gate signed for No Trespassing. There are other all-legal ways to reach it, I believe, so I gave up this effort and returned to Blue Lake Rd.

Mitchell Hill

This minor summit is located on the north side of Blue Lake Rd, only a few miles north of Olson Mtn. I parked on Blue Lake Rd south of the peak, leaving about 3/4mi to the summit while climbing 650ft. This one has more lava rock and some weaving is necessary to avoid the larger fields of the stuff. The highpoint is found at a rock outcrop among the many trees that cover the upper part of the mountain. Though it doesn't really deserve one, I left a register anyway, just for fun.

Tule Mountain

This P1K is located on the east side of US395, about 25mi south of Alturas. This is where this current roadtrip had started a few days earlier and was supposed to be the first peak climbed that day. Overnight rain and light snow left a wet mess that I didn't want to wallow through on the two-mile hike to the summit. Today was dry and far nicer, making for a pleasant climb taking an hour and a quarter to reach the top. Several old roads are found coming up from the north to the saddle just west of the highpoint, but these no longer see any vehicle travel and would make for a longer hike, compared to the cross-country route I used from the southwest. I found a 1957 USFS benchmark at the summit and open views in all directions. This one deserved a register, so I obliged before taking another hour to make the descent back to the jeep.

Knox Mountain

This P1K showed no ascents on LoJ and doesn't appear on PB, a bit odd since it was located within publicly accessible forest lands. One would have expected John Vitz to have paid it a visit, for example. The difficulties lay in the driving as it's a long way from the pavement. I drove about 20mi from Madeline at US395, about half of this on the good Ash Valley dirt road, the other half on a rougher road through BLM and USFS lands heading north. A spur road took me higher to get within about half a mile of the summit on the north side. Though short, the hike had some heavy brush to work through, but not so much as to become tedious or unpleasant. There is an old barbed-wire fenceline along the ridge, though no longer maintained. My route near the top followed on one side or the other of this fence to minimize the brush. The hike follows mostly through forest with only weak views at the summit, though there are some decent views looking west on the way there. It was after 5p by the time I returned, expecting this to be the last peak of the day.

Manzanita Mountain

This was an unexpected freebie on my way back from Knox Mtn. I had taken a shower where I was parked before looking for where to drive next. I needed to get to Adin on SR139 to get gas and was looking for a shorter way without driving back down south to Ash Valley Rd. Manzanita popped up on my map showing a lookout tower, so I figured I could do it as a drive-up as it wasn't out of the way. The roads heading northwest from Knox Mtn were better than those I had driven in on from the south and I made good time to reach Manzanita before sunset. There was a locked gate 1/3mi from the top, so I quickly parked and hoofed it up to the lookout only minutes before sunset. The lookout was shuttered closed, but the friendly design allows one to climb the stairs to the observation deck around the central cab. Through an unshuttered window I could see an uncovered mattress and the cab tidied up, perhaps closed for the season now. There are far-reaching views from the summit with the Warner Range far to the east, Mt. Shasta far to the northwest, and Mt. Lassen far to the southwest. The sun would set before I had returned to the jeep only five minutes later - excellent timing on this one. 10 more miles of driving got me down to SR139 where I fueled up in Adin before continuing south on the highway. I had a few more peaks planned for the morning before I headed home, so I drove partway up one of these before finding a place to camp for the night...


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