This was a long day, totalling some 26 miles and 11,000ft, broken into six separate
hikes over about 15hrs. I was in the Sierra foothills east of Fresno to tag some of the
dozen or so P1Ks found in this area, almost all of them on private property. Spring rains
had finally painted most of the state a beautiful green and it seemed a good time to
visit the area before things warmed up too much.
The trailhead for this is located off Trimmer Springs Rd on the north side of Pine
Flat Reservoir. The is the starting point for trails at the
south of the road, overlooking the reservoir. Hog
Mtn lies to of the road where one can make use of a
to start. The road climbs a short ways
before traversing around the east side of the mountain, so isn't helpful for very long.
A more direct route is to simply start up the grassy South Ridge and follow this nearly
to the summit. The route makes use of cow trails and grassy slopes for minimal
bushwhacking. As with most of the Sierra foothill summits under 5,000ft, there is plenty
of poison oak though it is not difficult to avoid.
were in abundance, particularly poppies in great profusion. On the way
up in the early morning these were , but on the way down they were
all open for a . Interestingly, they were primarily yellow in color,
usually an indicator of more desert-like conditions. Even the poison oak was
, looking almost lovely compared to its more usual sinister appearance.
The route provides fine views towards , overlooking
and the surrounding foothills. The
to the summit
is rather brushy, but as luck would have it an old ranch road can be picked up which
conveniently switchbacks up the southwest slope, keeping the whole affair mostly
brush-free. The summit itself is a moderately brush and rock affair at the end of the
old road, not very exciting. But are quite nice, especially those of
the reservoir to .
This P1K is found on the west side of Pine Flat Reservoir, overlooking the dam and about
3mi southwest of Hog Mtn. Access is from the northwest, also off Trimmer Springs Rd.
An old ranch road (undriven for years) from the pavement and goes to
There are numerous homes to the east, several of which are just visible from the large
switchback near the beginning. It appears that at one time this road was intended to
access more development planned for the area, but that doesn't seem to have materialized
as the realtor signs have fallen to decay. After a number of switchbacks to gain
altitude, traverses the
of Pt. 2,366ft and Pt. 2,352ft
before for the last half mile to the summit. The road
bypasses to the north of the highpoint, but the last 100yds or so are easy enough up tall
grass slopes under an oak forest. Remote as it is, the entire route seems pretty safe to
hike in the daytime. Some of were covered in yellow poppies making
for a colorful springtime display. A crawling across the road was
not happy when I attempted to pick it up, so I decided to leave it be. Views take in the
Hughes Creek drainage to , Red Mountain to the west, Tivy Mtn and
the to and some views through the trees of
Flat Reservoir to . If one walks far enough down the
of the summit you can get a fine view of the dam at the western end of the reservoir. In
sweeping northeast to southeast are the snowy summits
of the High Sierra.
Another three miles southwest of Hughes Mtn is Tivy Mtn with more than 1,400ft of
prominence overlooking the Kings River from the south. Dirt roads can be found leading to
the summit up the south side, but access to these is restricted through numerous ranches.
Routes from the west can be found along Piedra Rd, but there are more homes along this
road to be concerned with. I picked out a fairly brush-free route from the northeast
along Elwood Rd, far from any homes in the less-populated valley found along Mill Creek.
The route followed up , across several
. The first property is used to graze a herd of
that were fairly friendly - they watched me or came towards me, hoping
perhaps that I had something to give them. Cattle grazed on the second and third
properties . As I neared the summit ridge with about
half a mile to go, I eschewed the road on the south side in order to keep better out of
view. This was a bit silly on my part because I was much too far away to be spotted, the
road sees almost no traffic, and the ridgeline was fraught with rocky, false summits
entwined with poison oak that I spent too much time negotiating. Eventually realizing
this error, I dropped down and followed this the remaining way to
the summit. A and tank are found just east of the highpoint, the
few cattle I found there moving off to the other side of the mountain on my approach.
The highpoint is found in a partially surrounded by
and more poison oak. No one had bothered to leave a register that I
could find (nor were there on any of the other five summits).
The views are best off the
where the steep South Face drops off 2,000ft to
Clark Valley. Now that it was afternoon, haze from the Central Valley obscured distance
views, though the snows of the High Sierra remained easily visible to .
By making good use of the road to bypass the troublesome places along the ridge, along
with some downhill jogging, I was able to make it to the start in 45min.
By now I'd done about
5,500ft of gain and was pretty tired. Looking at the next one on my list it seemed easier
than the first three at little more than a mile - how hard could it be?
What I failed to appreciate was that though the distance was shorter, the elevation gain
was another 2,000ft. That simply made it steeper, and not really easier. I probably knew
this at the time but was sort of in denial for the sake of forcing my body to continue.
Dalton is the middle of three P1Ks lying north of SR180 and Squaw Valley (not to be
confused with the more famous Squaw Valley in the Tahoe region). There are a number of
roads on Dalton's south side that reach partway up the mountain and might provide the
shortest routes to reach it. But these all seemed to be semi-private roads and I disliked
the idea of driving up one after another only to find No Parking
signs where clearly there were occupied homes. Instead I picked
out up a grassy slope on the , away from homes and
. Though steep and tiring, the route was a good one with
on this one slope than I had seen all day. In places there were so
many that I had to squint to fend off the bright yellow glare reflected off their
The poppies covered acres of hillside, apparently not a favorite of the cattle that were
seen grazing elsewhere. Across the slope to l
was a fine view of the Great Western Divide, making for a most pleasant scene.
As I neared the summit ridgeline the slopes became brushier and I was quite happy to
stumble upon an old that I hadn't noted earlier. It isn't shown on
the topo map, but it does show up if one studies the satellite view carefully. It is most
helpful due to the excessive poison oak found at the highest elevations here, and I
dutifully followed it for 2/3mi until about 200ft from the summit. The last bit to the
top was a careful dance around poison oak that infests the
buried in the dense trees. As a summit, it was a definite bust. Back on the road, better
views were to be had, especially to the southeast with more views of the Great Western
Divide. I took a handful of pictures, and , before
starting back. I chose a route that would take advantage of the old ranch road which I
had noted coming up the SW side of the main ridge a few drainages to the north. Though
longer, the route was less steep as long as I stuck to that
switchbacked down the hillside. Near the bottom I gave up on the road and dropped more
directly into the drainage to get me to the pavement, walking the last
half mile back up the road to the van.
If I was tired before Dalton, I was near exhaustion now. I hadn't had dinner the night
before and had had a scant breakfast in the morning, followed by nothing but Powerade
since then. I wondered if lack of food had more to do with my condition than the 7,500ft
of vertical I'd climbed and decided to try an experiment. I drove to Squaw Valley where
I found Bear Mtn Pizza open, but nearly deserted. I ate five slices of a large
pepperoni pizza and rinsed the salt and sweat off my face during an hour's break. It was
a tasty experiment anyway, and did me good, reviving my flagging spirits. With renewed
energy, I set out again with a bit of daylight remaining.
About 3mi NE of Squaw Valley is Bald Mtn, rising 2,000ft in a mile, the
of the day. With homes dotting the area, I found a place to start between two of them,
climbing up through what appears to be a hunting ranch. Several blinds, looking like
sturdy tree houses, were found on either side of the route I took up the grassy
. The air was starting to cool as the sun sank lower in the
western sky and a breeze picked up near the to add a chill. There
was some poison oak to avoid on the way up, but of the stuff was
waiting near the as a last line of defence protecting
. I had to try several tacks before finding my way to the top
just after 7p, the sun now behind Bear Mtn to .
To could be see the pointed shadow of Bald Mtn extending
over Clingans Junction and Little White Deer Valley. What had taken an hour to ascend
took only half that time in descent as I raced the coming twilight in order to get down
while I could still see well enough to avoid the loose rocks that littered the slopes.
Bear Mtn lies about 2 miles NW of Squaw Valley. Paved Bear Mtn Rd climbs 1,600ft in 3mi
to reach the antennae-topped summit, though it is gated near the bottom and Squaw Valley.
I decided I had enough energy for one last summit, happy to simply plod up the road
rather than another steep scramble up grassy slopes. It was 8p by the time I started out,
soon growing dark. A half moon high overhead was more than sufficient to light the
roadway without resorting to headlamp. After climbing over a saddle on the mountain's
long East Ridge, the road turns west as it traverses upwards along the north side of
the ridge overlooking a quiet, oak-forested valley used for grazing. The road then turns
north as it starts a long switchback climbing the NE Ridge before popping out onto the
summit ridgeline. There are two summits of nearly equal height, both with tall summit
The lights of the Fresno area and much of the Central Valley are
visible from the top. I visited both summits, each featuring a
ensconced in and other shrubs, not the most inviting of places.
On the return, where the road turns east onto the north side of the East Ridge, I came
upon about a dozen cattle grazing alongside the road. These took off into the brush
further down in the ravine upon my approach. Then came the rushing sound of what seemed
like a huge flock of birds taking off from the oaks, but turned out to be the trampling
of a far larger herd than I expected down the creek. A few minutes later when the sounds
had quieted and I was calmly walking down the road, I heard the renewed rush of trampling
hooves crashing up from the ravine towards the road. It occurred to me that I could
easily be crushed in a stampede if the large herd came thundering up to the road, so I
shouted out "Whoa!!" to let them know where I was while darting off the road and behind
a stump, as much as I could find on short notice in the way of protection. My shout
seemed to have the desired effect because the herd veered off in another direction
before reaching the road and the sounds emanating from the woods soon quieted again. The
rest of the hike continued without incident as I got back to not long
10p. After a quick rinse, I ended up spending the night where I had parked as it was
fairly secluded away from the periodic traffic traveling along SR180. There was no movie,
no glass of wine to relax this night, just the tired bones of a full day's effort in
the hills. Sleep would be easy tonight...