Sharp Mountain P1K
Mt. Dome P1K
Secret Spring Mountain P1K
Chase Mountain P500
Hamaker Mountain P2K
Mt. Hebron P900

Sat, Jun 22, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX


Today's summits were a collection of P1Ks in and around Klamath National Forest, including an incursion into Oregon to tag a P2K just over the border. None of the hikes were very long nor very hard, but involved lots of driving through this sparsely populated area of Northern California.

Sharp Mountain

Sharp Mtn is located in a forgotten pocket of the state between Lava Beds NM to the east and US97 to the west. I had spent the night a few miles to the south near Wild Horse Mtn, the last summit I'd climbed the previous day. I was up early to drive the short distance to my starting point along a forest road that skirts the mountain on its southwest side. This forested area is used for cattle grazing, a friendly bunch that were more curious than frightened by my presence when I started just after 6a. The distance to the summit was a bit over a mile, but 1,500ft of gain. After a short stint through the flatter, lower forest where the cows roam, the climb begins at a pretty steady gradient all the way to the top. The forest gives way to more open grass slopes with views north and west to Red Rock Valley. There are a lot of lava rocks strewn among the grass, brush and trees along the South Ridge I used for most of the ascent, requiring some caution. At the open summit I found the benchmark and a register with a few scraps of paper along with older, unreadable pages. I returned via the same route, taking just over an hour and a half for the outing.

Mt. Dome

Located about 8.5mi NE of Sharp Mtn, this isolated summit lies just outside the western edge of Modoc National Forest, on adjacent BLM lands, though most of my route was through the national forest. My driving route from paved Red Rock Rd took me through a collection of private ranch lands, passing through three gates, none of them locked nor signed for No Trespassing. From the vicinity of Lairds Camp on the south side of the mountain, a very rough road climbs about 600ft higher up that side of the mountain. I drove only half of this because the road was so bad and ended up parking off the road its side the grassy slope. The hike up the south side is easy at first, but the brush gets thicker as one gains elevation with a tangle of trees across the summit. The highpoint is found at the northern end of a 1/3mi-long summit ridge. An old hubcab was found in the summit rocks at the lower south summit. A path had been cut through the brush years ago that is still useable though not easy to discern. I found the benchmark and remains of the old survey tower among the summit rocks at the highpoint, along with a register in a PVC tube. The register dated to 2016 though there was an older scrap from 2013. Of the half dozen or so entries, the only ones I recognized were Richard Carey and Chris Kerth. The others were locals, BLM surveyors, or conservationists cutting junipers to help establish bald eagle habitat. It sounds weird, but the idea is that junipers compete with the pines that the birds prefer to nest in, and due to fire suppression efforts of the past, have come to encroach on much of the sagebrush steppes in this part of the state and neighboring Oregon. The junipers were cut and collected into slash piles that can be found along the summit ridge, though they don't seem to have been too greatly diminished by the efforts - new junipers are growing up in their place. At 3mi roundtrip and 1,800ft of gain, this was the second longest of the day's hikes, taking two and a quarter hours.

Secret Spring Mountain

While heading west back along Red Rock Rd, I first attempted to reach Sheep Mtn, a P1K on the north side of Red Rock Valley. The topo map shows a road coming up from the southeast off Red Rock Rd, but this no longer appears to exist. I ended up in the yard of one of the locals who came out to see what I was about. He was very friendly and gave me somewhat vague instructions on how to get to Sheep Mtn. I drove back out to Red Rock Rd and found a dirt road that fit the description he'd given me, but it ended up petering out in a rocky field about a mile from the pavement. I wandered around on foot looking for something I could drive on, but in the end gave it up. More research later showed another option off Red Rock Rd further east. I shall try that next time.

Back on the pavement, I drove west to the small town of Macdoel where I got gas and headed off towards Secret Spring Mtn. Located only a few miles from the Oregon border, the peak lies in a patchwork of private, BLM and Forest Service lands. Dennis Poulin provided good beta on PB for a route from the south. There are roads from the east that get one closer, but Dennis mentions these seem to be blocked by private property. I first checked out this eastern option, but found locked gates at the end of the publicly accessible roads. I then followed Dennis's southern route, finding it has grown quite brushy in the past six years. Where it goes through a section of private property, it is now signed for No Trespassing, but there was no gate to block driving. I continued on, finding the road back on Forest Service land quite brushy, adding considerable depth to my pinstriping collection. I stopped short of the saddle Dennis described reaching, giving the jeep a break from the brush and walking this last half mile instead. The route was a total of about six miles roundtrip, following the South Ridge with its modest gradient. The area around the saddle and far up the ridgeline is home to a herd of wild horses, about a dozen of which I saw on my way up and down. There are numerous trails the horses have developed over the seasons, and some o f these can be used going up and down the ridgeline through some of the brushier areas. The brush was never bad enough to call it bushwhacking and for the most part the route is pleasant enough. I crossed over three roads on my way up, the last is the powerline road described by Dennis. Above this, the gradient gets a bit steeper and the open slopes become more heavily forested. For fun, I hunted out the Beswick benchmark about half a mile from the summit, as shown on the topo map. I found one of the reference marks and the collapsed survey tower, but after briefly digging under the tower's location, I gave up finding the benchmark itself. I continued on to the northwest end of the summit area to find wide-open views looking south, west and north. Dennis further hinted that some of the rocks east of this point may be higher and indeed they were when I went to check them out. Unfortunately, they are buried under heavy tree cover and have no views, but I left a register here at the highest rocks before heading back the same way. In all, I spent two and three quarter hours on the roundtrip effort.

Chase Mtn/Hamaker Mtn

In driving back out to US97, I noted that there was a P2K just over the Oregon border to the north, a drive-up. I'd had enough hiking for the day, so this seemed like a nice way to spend a few hours and let the jeep do most of the work. That it was paved the whole way was a double bonus. Nearby is another named summit that can be driven to by any vehicle as well, on a decent gravel road. I first visited Chase Mtn with its lookout tower. The cabin shutters were all opened, but there was no one onsite at the moment and the door to the observation deck was locked. I climbed the stairs as high as I could to take some photos, then headed back to the pavement. Continuing up to the summit of Hamaker Mtn, I found a large goverment communications installation there. The fence surrounding it and the highpoint is formidable but not impenetrable. I walked up to the highest point around the fence to call it good.

Mt. Hebron

Back in California and heading south on US97 towards Weed, I stopped near Hebron Summit for this last peak. The dirt road from the highway is about 3mi in length, growing rougher the further one goes. The road eventually disappears altogether a short distance below the summit on the east side. 4WD and high-clearance are needed to get to this point, but it's not a very long hike to simply climb it from the west, closer to the highway. Fire had burned over the entire mountain in the 2009 Tennant Fire, leaving snags and a covering of brush in its wake. The highpoint is found to the north of the summit area, one of three rocky points vying for the honors. I found the remains of an old register at the southern point, its contents too brittle from being toasted to be of much use anymore. It was 7:45p by the time I returned to the jeep, content to call it a day. I showered before heading back to the highway, eventually driving on to Weed where I got dinner and then further south on Interstate 5 before finding a place to sleep for the night.


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