Battle Mountain P300 TAC
Red Mountain P900
Dog Creek Mountain P300 CC

Fri, Jun 29, 2018
Red Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2


I had originally planned to spend four days in the Trinity Alps on this solo roadtrip. My daughter had planned a trip to Tahoe with friends and my wife was in Southern California reffing volleyball, so there was no need to get home early. While texting with my daughter while using the wifi at Trailhead Pizza on SR3, she told me her Tahoe trip fell through. So I decided to cut my trip short by a day so I could go back and do another trip with daughter - always more fun with family. I skipped day three's plan for Tri-Forest and Mumford Peaks and went right to day four's - Battle Mtn. This was an easier outing, about 14mi and 6,000ft of gain which I hoped with an early start to finish well before noon. This would give me time for a few stragglers on my way back to Interstate 5 and home to San Jose.

Battle Mountain

The peak is located on the high ridge between Union Creek and Battle Creek, south of Coffee Creek Rd. In his book, The Trinity Alps Companion, Wayne Moss describes the easiest approach via the Sugar Pine Lake Trail. The trail starts from Coffee Creek and goes up the Sugar Pine Creek drainage, immediately east of Battle Creek. The main trail ends at Sugar Pine Lake in the upper reaches of the canyon, but a little-used fork goes over the ridge to the west into the upper reaches of Battle Creek where the peak can be accessed. Finding the start seems to be the crux. Using the older topo map from the obsolete TOPO! software, I had thought the start was found on the other side of a bridge located at the confluence of Coffee Creek and Sugar Pine Creek. When I drove up Coffee Creek Rd the evening before, I was surprised to find the bridge had been partially destroyed in a flood event and the wooden roadway had burned. It would have taken great gymnastic ability to get across the bridge and the creek at that point. I decided the trail had probably been abandoned and changed plans to drive to the end of Coffee Creek Rd and do the other hike to Tri-Forest and Mumford instead. Half a mile up the road, I spotted a small USFS sign that simply said "Trail" on the side of the road. Pulling over to investigate, I found it went downhill to a footbridge over Coffee Creek and from there it contoured southeast around the hill to the Sugar Pine Creek drainage. My GPSr confirmed this alternate starting point, so I parked off the road and slept the night in the back of the Jeep.

I was up early and starting on the trail by 5:15a, easily light enough at this time of year to hike without headlamp. The trail was in good condition, cleared of downfall and easy to follow for the first two hours as it climbs through heavy timber up the Sugar Pine Creek drainage. Sunrise came before the first hour was up, brightly filtering through the trees. Most of the forest is second growth after being logged perhaps 100yrs ago, but there were some very large specimens here and there that had eluded the lumbermen. I somehow missed the trail junction, though as I found on the way back - it was nicely marked by trail signs nailed to a tree. I ended up striking off cross-country uphill in search of it, eventually finding it about 500ft up the slope after about 1/3mi. The trail sees little use and does not appear to be maintained any longer, but there are occasional ducks to help follow it through grassy meadows and other signs cut into trees from back in the day. Views open up as the trail gains elevation and the forest begins to thin. Where the trail goes over the ridgeline between the two drainages, one gets a first view of Battle Mtn which is not all that impressive from this vantage - apparently it looks much better from Union Creek on the other side.

I continued following the trail southwest and down into the upper reaches of Battle Canyon. There is a large, marshy meadow located here. I followed Wayne's advice to contour around this to the south, partially getting my boots wet as I crossed spongy ground covered in thick vegetation that hid the water lurking just below. On the way back I more simply crossed directly from Battle Mtn to the trail and found it far easier (and drier). The scramble up to Battle Mtn is nothing great, more tiring than exciting as one travels up loose forest understory with talus and boulder-hopping higher up. I reached the summit just before 9a, almost an hour longer than I had hoped it would take - seems I hadn't really considered just how much elevation gain this one had when I was researching it earlier. There is a USDA benchmark from 1922 at the summit, with views southeast to the Red Trinities and southwest to the White Trinities. There was no register, but someone had left an arrow shaft sticking out of the summit rocks. After a brief stay, I descended more directly to the meadow below before rejoining the trail and hiking back out. I found the trail junction I had missed earlier in a marshy area where it's hard to follow the trail fork, though some ducks on downed logs offer useful clues. It was 11:45a by time I returned to the bridge over Coffee Creek and the road where I'd left the Jeep. Time to do some driving...

Red Mountain

This P900 is found northeast of Trinity Lake, outside the Trinity Alps. It is overshadowed by its P2K neighbor, Bonanza King, which rises about 250ft higher. Red Mountain is located in a patchwork of USFS and private logging lands with decent forest roads providing access up from Trinity Lake. One such road gets within 3/4mi of the summit where it goes over the southwest shoulder on its way to picturesque Devils Lake, found west of Red Mtn. I found the road gated more than a mile below this point with a sign indicating motor vehicles prohibited, foot travel permitted at one's own risk. This section is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the state's major logging concerns. I parked the Jeep off the side of the steep mountain road and hiked the remaining distance up the road to the shoulder in about half an hour. It would take another half hour to cover the remaining cross-country distance to the summit along the shoulder, a mix of modest brush and rock scrambling that had me on one side of the ridge or the other looking for the least brushy route to the top, found at the far northeast end of the ridgeline. There is a nice, broadside view of Bonanza King to the northwest and the always impressive sight of Mt. Shasta to the northeast. Trinity Lake can just be seen to the southwest with the Trinity Alps behind it to the west. The return went only slightly faster and I ended up spending a little under 2hrs on the hike.

Dog Creek Mountain

This unassuming (and altogether unimpressive) summit is on the CC-list and found about 10mi south of Red Mtn. I spent more than an hour and a half driving various forest roads to get from one to the other, an enjoyable exercise now that my vehicle is far more appropriate for the task. I had had this peak on my radar back in 2015, but ran out of time on a roadtrip then and hadn't gotten around to it since. Daryn Dodge and Kathy Rich had visited in 2017, followed soon after by other familiar CA peakbaggers chasing the oddly-concocted CC-list. They had reported various ways to access the summit, none of them difficult. The most straightforward way is from the north, but with more driving one can start from a higher elevation on the south side of the peak. This area is also checkerboarded with USFS and private logging. The summit itself is USFS land, but immediately west is private. This slope on the west side of the peak's South Ridge was logged a few years ago. What Dean Gaudet describes as a fire break is actually part of the logging effort. Large berms were built to divert water and it was never intended to be driven once they had relandscaped it at the end of the logging operation. Still, Dean managed to drive about halfway up this "road" before walking the remaining distance. I made a fun exercise of it, managing to get the Jeep to the top of the ridge (not without first bottoming out on the berms several times) before getting stopped by brush. I probably could have plowed through that as well to drive the remaining 1/8mi to the top, but I figured it had been abused enough. I parked and walked the remaining stretch of road to the summit where I found the register left by Daryn and Kathy a year earlier. The unlogged summit has no real views and should never have been put on a peak list. After getting the Jeep turned around (no easy feat) and driving back down the South Ridge, I still had a good deal of dirt road driving to get myself to Interstate 5 and on my way home. There would be more fun back in NorCal in just a few days...

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