Indian Spring Mountain P1K
Hambone Butte P300
Peak 4,136ft P300
Soldier Mountain P1K
Fort Mountain P500
Haney Mountain P500
Saddle Mountain P1K

Thu, May 9, 2019
Saddle Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 GPX


The last of a 3-day road trip in Northern California found me camped below Indian Spring Mtn, the highpoint of the Whitehorse Mountains in Siskiyou County. Like much of the land in the area, the range is a mix of Forest Service and private timber interests. A network of roads runs through the range but not all of them are negotiable. Others have reported using these roads to get within a short distance of the summit on the southwest side, followed by some awful bushwhacking. Having driven in the night before, I found a section of road too muddy to negotiate even in the jeep (it doesn't help that I've nearly worn the tires to the bone already) and was barely able to extract myself. I was at a saddle on the NE side of the peak, half a mile from the summit. I decided it would have to do when I got up in the morning. The rest of the peaks that occupied me until the early afternoon were all much easier affairs, some trivial drive-ups.

Indian Springs Mtn

Half a mile of brutal bushwhacking is really too much, at least for me, and if it had been this bad the whole way I would have given up close to the start and wait for another time when the mud was dry later in the season. But though going up fairly steeply, the first 2/3 of the effort had enough breaks and short openings to keep me motivated and moving upwards, trees helping provide some of these small clearings. The trees gave out for the last third as the gradient began to roll off. Manzanita and other brush well over head level made for quite a challenge. How my pants didn't end up in shreds is a bit of a mystery. At one point I came upon what I thought was an old road or trail. Turns out it was a cut made along the NF boundary running perpendicular to my route of travel. I stood forlornly looking at what would make a decent trail for a minute before continuing through the heavy stuff towards the summit. Things eased up near the end and by the time I was within a few hundred feet of the summit I could walk around with ease. In hindsight it wasn't as bad as I had feared it might get, though still no picnic - I spent just shy of an hour to cover that half mile distance. I found a register in a pair of nested red cans at the summit rocks, left by Barbara and Gordon in 2000. I recognized all of the names in the four pages of entries, the last being Dennis Poulin from 2015. Views were decent if one walks to the periphery of the summit area, Mt. Shasta well to the west, Whitehorse Flat Reservoir much closer to the southeast. After a few minutes, I gathered up my courage to return back through the brush. Upon reaching the forest boundary cut for a second time, I got the idea of following it east downhill. It wasn't the direct line back to the start, but if I could reach the road below, it would be way easier. I dropped some 300ft in elevation fairly quickly in this fashion until I found the cut made a sharp turn to the south, now traversing across the east side of the peak. Evidently (and later I confirmed this) the forest boundary takes a 90 degree turn here, leaving me no more cut brush to follow. Drats. Still, it wasn't all bad as the brush was easier to descend over than it had been going uphill, and it took me only 10 more minutes to reach the road below. The return to the car was just over half an hour from the summit, almost half the time it had taken for the ascent. I was thrilled with my success and looked forward to easier going the rest of the day.

Hambone Butte

This was an easy bonus on my drive back west to SR89. A good road runs along the west side of the peak with a spur road leading to a cinder pit up that side of the mountain, ending just south of the summit. The cross-country hike to the summit takes a few minutes. Bighorn Bill had left a register here in 2009, making two additional visits before someone else gave it some love. No views to be had.

Peak 4,136ft

After Hambone, I continued driving west towards SR89, taking a second detour to visit Bear Mtn. This P1K has a lookout and an easy drive-up, normally. Today, I didn't get more than a few hundred yards before finding snow blocking the road. The elevation was barely 4,600ft, but there was too much of the white stuff to drive the road. As I was more than five miles still from the summit, I gave up the effort for another time. Once on SR89, I drove south towards my next P1K, Soldier Mtn. Peak 4,136ft was an easy bonus on the way, found on the west side of the highway. The dirt road reaching up the south side of the peak made for a challenging drive, but it got me within a quarter mile of the summit. An easy walk along an old logging road went up the south side to the summit. No register or views at the summit.

Soldier Mtn

Like Bear Mtn, Soldier Mtn has a fire lookout atop its summit with an excellent gravel road leading to it. At over 5,500ft, I expected to get blocked by snow much as I had on Bear Mtn. Oddly, there was no snow to be seen all the way to the top. I was stopped about half a mile from the summit by a closed gate. Upon inspection, I found the gate not locked and was able to drive to a second gate only a few hundred yards below the summit. This one was locked so I had to park and walk the remaining distance. I climbed up the stairs to the viewing deck of the lookout, taking in the views in all directions, a nice little peak.

Fort Mtn

This bonus peak is found just west of Soldier Mtn. After driving a few miles back down the lookout road, I turned west onto a spur road and drove this up to within 1/3mi of the summit. The road is brushy in places, so if one is adverse to pinstriping, better to walk it. One of the reasons I have a white jeep is to hide the pinstriping, so I drove it up as far as I was able. The walk to the summit is fairly open, no real brush to contend with. The highpoint is in a small rocky patch in the forest with no views.

Haney Mtn

This is a drive-up off SR299, east of SR89. There are telecom installations at the summit and open views. A fire had burned over the top recently, leaving it charred and a bit forlorn-looking. The highpoint appears to be among a set of rather large cairns on the north side. I found a USFS benchmark nearby. Immediately to the north rises the higher Saddle Mtn, a summit I had dismissed on this trip since it looked to have no roads getting very close and tons of brush covering it on all sides. Now that I was looking at it, the brush didn't look that bad, and I figured it was worth a closer look while I was in the area.

Saddle Mtn

I drove back down to SR299, then north on Glenburn Rd just as I entered the town of Fall River Mills. About a mile to the north, there was an unsigned, open gate that gave me access to a spur leading up to the saddle between Haney and Saddle Mtn, unimaginatively called "The Saddle" on the topo map. The road had been recently cleared of brush, but it was incredibly dusty, with dark red/brown earth billowing up behind me as I drove this somewhat rough road for about mile to The Saddle. Probably visible for a few miles, I wondered if it would attract attention. I'm pretty sure it's all private property here, but no one came up to chase me off. I parked under the shade of the largest tree there, then started off. The first quarter mile is easy through pine trees all uniformly about 6ft tall, almost like a xmas tree farm. I noticed there was a path of sorts through the grass and I followed this, hoping it might help get through the brushier parts. It soon became evident that this was a use trail that had been traveled more than once, and it did indeed get me through the heaviest sections where others had already trampled down the brush. What a great find, I thought, as I continued following it up the steep south slope of the mountain. It was about 1,000ft of gain and took just over half an hour. Where the gradient rolls off towards the top, the brush becomes more sparse and flowers added some nice color. I found an old survey tower lying on the ground and a makeshift register in a Gatorade bottle nearby. I didn't recognize any of the names, guessing maybe it's a locals sort of summit. I was thankful that they had done the trail-breaking work for me, making this one way easier than I had expected.

Lookout Mtn

This P1K is located north of SR299 and the town of Burney. A drive through the edge of town leads to a rough road leading north along the west side of the mountain. A very rough road then forks right to climb steeply up that side getting one to within about half a mile of the summit. From the satellite view, the summit appears to be a brushy nightmare, so getting this far was a big accomplishment. It appears that old logging roads fork off in different directions going higher and I thought I might get equally lucky as I had on Saddle Mtn. Alas, it was not to be. I tried various road forks, finding them ending in footpaths which eventually petered out in vast areas of poison oak in the oak & pine understory. There was far too much of this noxious stuff to ignore, forcing me to turn around on my various attempts to get higher. I was only about 1/3mi from the summit but still had probably 300ft of gain and no way to avoid the poison oak that I could find. Had it been earlier in the day I might have given it more time, but as it was 3p and I still had six hours of driving ahead of me, I decided to give it up. Perhaps some adventurous soul reading this will take pity on me and clip a route to the summit that I can follow. Now, wouldn't THAT be sweet! :-)

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