Grouse Prairie P1K
Copper Hill
Peak 4,845ft P300
Norse Butte P300
Peak 4,840ft P300
Peak 5,640ft P500
Blake Mountain P1K

May 31, 2016
Copper Hill
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 Profile

My knee was doing better, though far from good, but more importantly I really needed to get out on a road trip. It had been a month since I'd been anywhere aside from local hikes. I decided to head north to tackle some P1Ks in the Coast Ranges, elevations running from 4,000-6,000ft. This would be low enough to avoid any snow (which I was afraid could tweak on my knee) and high enough, hopefully, to avoid a mini-heatwave forecasted over much of the state. I didn't leave San Jose until after 10a in an effort to avoid Bay Area traffic problems, which for the most part was successful. It meant that I didn't get to Red Bluff until 2p and several hours later before I had driven west on SR36 into the mountains that form parts of the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests. Most of these hikes were fairly short in length, separated by stretches of driving with the air-conditioner set on max. I brought along my mountain bike for the longer stretches of road I might not be able to drive. Many of the forest roads I traveled, though steep, were graded for passenger cars, a surprising number of them paved. A high-clearance or 4WD vehicle would have made things easier, to be sure, but the van did nicely for all the summits I visited over four days.

Grouse Prairie/Copper Hill/Peak 4,845ft

This 5,000-foot P1K is reached via Forest Road 14 (aka Flume Gulch Road) off SR36. The graded road runs for six miles to a saddle, climbing 2,000ft in the process. The first 4mi are nicely paved. At the saddle between Grouse Prairie and Copper Hill, I drove a short distance further towards the former before ruts in the road made me think otherwise. Starting off around 5p, I planned to ride the 1.5mi distance to the summit. I got only a few minutes up the road before I was stopped by a large tree across the road, however, and without much desire to lug the bike over the large trunk, I left it there and hiked to the summit instead. I found the summit just off the road in a tangle of brush in a partial clearing. Surrounding trees left no views whatsoever, the common theme for many of these peaks that see little love from peakbaggers. Though I found no register, I knew from ListsofJohn that John Vitz had logged an ascent. I returned to the bike and moved both it and the van back to the saddle just down the spur road where I set off on foot for Copper Hill and Peak 4,845ft. With one hovering just under 300ft of prominence and the other just over, these were obscurities. Rather than precision P1King like I'd done in the past, of late I've been pausing to find other nearby summits before blasting off for the next P1K. Fifteen minutes up a rough spur road (high-clearance could drive to the top) saw me at the Copper Hill summit. No copper, no views here. I found some old logging roads (no longer driveable) that took me to Peak 4,845ft about a mile to the southeast in half an hour. Some mild brush, but otherwise it was not too hard to reach this unnamed summit with no views.

South Fork Mountain

A few miles to the east lies South Fork Mountain, a 40mi-long ridgeline separating the Mad River and South Fork Trinity River drainages. At the south end it tops out at the 6,000-foot Horse Ridge Lookout while 30mi to the north is Blake Mtn, barely 100ft lower. SR36 goes over the middle of the ridge at just over 4,000ft. I drove to this saddle and headed northwest along paved South Fork Mtn Rd (Forest Road 4N12, eventually becoming Forest Road 1) more than 16mi to Blake Mtn, with more than 1,800ft of prominence. Along the way I stopped at three other minor peaks, none of them, including Blake Mtn, were more than about 10 minutes' effort, round trip. Norse Butte was the first of these, only a few minutes up the road from SR36. I drove until I was due north of the summit, parked at a small turnout, and hoofed it cross-country up the steep hillside without any real brush to deal with. The summit was a tangle of downfall where a large tree is found. No views, of course. Back on the road, I continued along the scenic road, stopping for short visits to Peak 4,840ft and Peak 5,640ft in succession. The former actually had a nice view off to the west where the sun was getting reading to set, while the latter was another no-view at a small rock outcrop surrounded by trees. The sun would set before I reached the last stop for the highest point, Blake Mtn. It was 9p, but because of the approaching summer solstice, it was still light enough to hike the short distance without a headlamp, though barely. I found my way to a rocky summit where I found a register left by Barbara/Gordon in 2000. John Vitz had visited 11yrs later along with Dennis Poulin in 2014 and another party in 2015. I'm not sure this was the highpoint, however, as I found another, larger rock outcrop about 100yds to the northwest that appeared to be 5-10ft higher according to the GPSr. I scrambled up that one in the fading light, looked around but found no second register, and then returned the short distance to the van.

I had planned to spend the night here near Blake Mtn but since I'd already visited the summit I decided to use the next hour or so to do some nighttime driving to position myself for the next day's first outing. I drove back down to SR36, crossed the highway and drove another 8mi southeast along Forest Road 23, the first six miles of which were paved (but lots of potholes). I eventually stopped at a large puddle in the road. In all likelihood I could have driven across this one, but I did not relish the idea of getting stuck in a mud hole. By now it was 10:30p and I'd had a pretty full afternoon/evening. I pulled out of the road to a clearing on the west side and went about setting up my bedding in the back of the van. I was still more than six miles from Horse Ridge Lookout, but the bike I'd brought along would help to make the next day's first outing easier...


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