Goat Mountain
Peak 2,472ft P300
Mineral BM P300

Wed, Nov 11, 2020
Goat Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

I decided to pay another visit to the Clear Creek Management Area in San Benito/Fresno Counties, a short two day trip with a plan to visit six summits that I had neglected on previous outings. I did my research, got my permits online and left San Jose at the more reasonable time of 6:45a because the drive is only a few hours. The vehicle permit is good for seven days, but the personal one is good for only a single day - seems they want to limit an individual's exposure to the natural asbestos hazard to only five days a year. It's more than a little confusing, so I figured I had a plausible defence if a BLM ranger questioned why I was there the second day without a permit. I didn't get far with my plan. After doing the first summit, Goat Mtn, I found the Clear Creek Rd leading into the heart of the area was blocked by a locked gate. I searched my permit for a lock combo, but there was no mention of it. I got a BLM phone number from the sign on the gate and then had to drive 40min to Coalinga to get cell service. All I could get from the phone number was a series of recorded messages. One of them said the gate combo could be found on my permit. I left a message, but no one called me back over the next two days. I then called recreation.gov, the issuer of the permit, and after a short while was able to get a real person. She spent about 15min trying to help me out, but came up empty. Worse, when I asked if I could at least get my $17 refunded, she said she couldn't submit a refund since the permit was still "active". So I have to remember to call back again in seven days. Sigh. I found other stuff to do to keep me busy with what little remained of the day by this time...

Goat Mountain

Goat Mtn is found in the CCMA, outside the larger area blocked by the locked gate. In times past, there were multiple ways to reach Goat Mtn, but these have been reduced to a single 4WD jeep spur road forking off the main Clear Creek Rd. There is an initial creek crossing that is trivial in the fall, then some steep sections that would be considerably more difficult in wet conditions. I found some light snow on the shadier portions of the road, surprising since the elevation was only 3,500ft. The road leads in about 3mi to a clearing just below the highpoint. One needs to go over a fence to walk about 100ft to the highpoint. Lands on both sides of the fence are BLM, so the fence may have been erected to keep motorcycles on the road. This was the only summit on the day with blue skies. High clouds came over the area over the next few hours and would remain for the rest of the day. After visiting the summit, I tried to follow the continuing road as it winds its way east to the higher parts of the range, but was stopped by a second locked gate soon after leaving the summit.

Peak 2,472ft

Marcus Sierra had posted a TR on PB in 2016 for this summit, starting from Los Gatos Creek County Park. The park is small, with picnic and campsites available, though the campground is currently closed due to COVID concerns. The picnic area is open, but the restrooms are closed and no fees are being collected. It's not a very attractive park, but it probably looks much different in the springtime with water flowing in the creek and green grass in the hills. I hiked from the picnic area up to the campground and followed a use trail that led to a gap in the fences that surround the park. This put me on cow trails and ranch roads on the adjacent property, following a ridgeline up towards the summit. A handful of cattle were on the road as I approached, eventually moving aside to let me pass, though not thrilled that I was there (perhaps disappointed I didn't have some tasty alfalfa for them - it looks like they're left eating dry thistles this time of year). There is another summit a quarter mile to the southeast that one goes over first, and at first glance it seems the northwest summit is lower. The use trail continues along the ridge, eventually reaching a gate just below the summit for the adjacent hunting club property. There's no need to go over the fence as the use trail follows outside the fenceline right up to the summit where three properties meet. The peak isn't particularly high, but it sits nicely as a somewhat isolated island in the drainage with decent views. The distance from the start is about 2mi each way. I returned the same way.

Mineral BM

This last summit is found on BLM lands near Coalinga Mineral Springs, north of SR198. I had to drive back out to Coalinga, through the town and Chevron oil fields, then west on SR198. Mineral BM is named for the Coalinga Mineral Springs found up the spur road in Hot Springs Canyon. I had been this way a decade earlier for the CC-listed summits of Kreyenhagen and Twin Peaks. Since then, Mineral BM and environs were burned over in the 2016 Mineral Fire, then again more recently in the 2020 Mineral Fire. This makes what a decade ago would have been a tough brushfest far easier. Much of the land immediately adjacent to the roads are private ranchlands, making access to the BLM areas difficult. Luckily, there's a small corner of the BLM lands that just touches the Mineral Springs Rd about 1.5mi northwest of the summit. There's a large informal parking area here with several use trails fanning into Dutchman Canyon and other side canyons. Most all of the vegetation was torched in the fire back in July, but portions were spared on some of the northern aspects. I climbed steeply up a slope to the southeast, gaining a subsidiary ridgeline that would take me east to the main north-south ridgeline I would follow to Mineral BM. The subsidiary ridgeline had a helpful use trail that wound around the various charred snags that would leave my clothing blackened when I failed to pay proper attention. Where the subsidiary ridge meets the main ridge, there is an interesting set of rocky features heading north, eventually leading to Flag Peak in 3-4mi. My route would turn south to Mineral BM, another mile further over more ordinary terrain. It was interesting to see several isolated oaks and junipers that somehow missed getting destroyed. Presumeably, they will act as sources for future regeneration of their species on the hillsides. Perhaps the most successful survivors I saw were the yucca plants that are already recovering only months after the latest fire. It took just under an hour to reach the summit where I found open views across the Warthan Creek drainage to the south, along with the expected benchmark. I left a register here before returning via mostly the same route. My only real deviation was descending into a side drainage rather than following the subsidiary ridge back to the start. I didn't see any real advantage of one route over the other.

It was 4:30p by the time I returned to the jeep, the sun getting ready to set behind the cloud layer. I drove to Coalinga Mineral Springs a few mile up the road, finding the private buildings that had once stood there were all consumed in the July fire. I found a side road that I followed to its end within the state park that would allow me a quiet space to camp for the night out of view of the paved road. The clouds dissipated sometime in the evening, leaving a sky full of stars that night, chilly, but not too cold. I slept comfortably in the back of the jeep, going to bed around 8p after showering, dinner and a few hours of watching portions of a Scientology documentary. Probably not the best thoughts to have running around your head before bedtime, but I slept well enough...


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