Peak 3,855ft P1K
Johnny O'Neil Ridge P1K
Peak 4,020ft P300
Peak 3,159ft P500
Peak 3,420ft P500
Williams Point P500

Thu, May 2, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX


The second of a short, two-day roadtrip to far Northern California was another collection of short hikes designed to give my recovering right knee an easy workout while exploring some new territory in the state. I was chasing down P1Ks and CC-listed summits which started off well enough, but got bogged down when snow made several of the planned summits inaccessible (by easy means, anyway). I found some alternatives to keep me busy until about 2p when I started for home.

Peak 3,855ft

All of the day's peaks were found north of SR96 and the Klamath River, in the Siskiyou Mountains that straddle the border between California and Oregon. Dennis Poulin of Medford, OR seems to have been the consumate peakbagger in the area, having visited more peaks than anyone else by a long shot. He had many helpful TRs and GPX tracks on the PB website, useful to know if visiting the area. The first four peaks are all found along the miles-long Johnny O'Neil Ridge just north of the highway and east of Seiad Valley. I had driven up the evening before, spending the night at the saddle between the first two peaks, both P1Ks. Unnamed Peak 3,855ft has a road reaching to the summit, the last part a bit rough. The summit is shown on the 7.5' topo map as a Comm Site, but the only thing there are two giant rectangular reflecting stations that look like drive-in movie screens. It seems doubtful these are still in use, but nobody seems to be in a hurry to dismantle the unsightly things. Views from the summit are a bit limited, by there were snowy views looking south to Tom Martin Peak and northwest to Red Buttes. I had hoped to visit Red Buttes today, but the amount of snow that could be seen showed it to be too early in the season yet it would have to wait for another time. Similarly, CC-listed Lake Mountain is not far from Tom Martin Peak, but snow on the north flanks would mean a road blockage higher up - I didn't attempt either of these drives.

Johnny O'Neil Ridge

I had only a short drive from the previous summit. Forest Route 46N60 traverses Johnny O'Neil Ridge from Horse Creek to Saied Valley, an excellently maintained dirt/gravel road. It passes to the south of the ridge's highpoint, within about 1/3mi, but leaving a 600-foot ascent. I parked at a wide spot in the road and went up the south side through open but steep and loose forest understory. The highpoint is buried in trees leaving nary a view, but I left a register anyway.

Peak 4,020ft

Back at the jeep, I continued west along the forest road, noting there were two relatively easy bonus peaks elsewhere on Johnny O'Neil Ridge. Peak 4,020ft has a spur road going nearly to the top, passing just west of the highpoint. I found the road blocked by deadfall about a mile from the summit, but since it was mostly on road, I figured it wouldn't put much strain on the knee. The hike along the road was easy, as expected, but so was the final short distance along the South Ridge which was neither steep nor brushy. No views from this summit, either.

Peak 3,159ft

This unnamed summit located about 2.7mi southwest of Peak 4,020ft is at the western edge of Johnny O'Neil Ridge. This one has a spur road getting to within 3/4mi at a saddle on the peak's NE Ridge. From there, I was happy to find a very decent trail leading all the way to the summit. There was a good deal of poison oak found in the upper stretch, the first significant amounts of the stuff I'd seen over the past few days. I stepped cautiously through this section, again finding a summit with no views. It was only 9:15a by the time I returned to the jeep, having already visited four summits.

Peak 3,420ft

The next two summits would not go quite so easily, and almost two hours would pass before I was hiking again. After returning to the highway at Seiad Valley, I got gas ( there are only two stations on the highway west of Yreka that I found - at Saied Valley and Happy Camp) and continued west. There are numerous signs found along the way indicating the residents aren't all that excited about their river becoming part of a Siskiyou Crest National Monument, first proposed almost 10 years ago. A number of the residents also believe they'd be better off without the shackles of the predominantly blue state of California, wishing instead to form the red state utopia of Jefferson. Not sure what to make of it all, but I'm glad they aren't shooting outsiders, at least yet. I was heading to Happy Camp and from there more forest roads to reach CC-listed Baldy Mtn and Boulder Peak, both around 6,000ft in elevation. There is a road reaching to a lookout near Baldy Mtn, so as expected it to be in good condition. I was stopped with more than 3mi remaining when I ran into snow at the 3,500-foot level, much lower than I had found the day before to the east. Seems they got a lot more snow in these parts than the areas I had visited the previous day. Dang - I needed a plan B. I found it in Peak 3,420ft, an unnamed summit with more than 700ft of prominence - not the P1K I'd been hoping for, but it would do in a pinch, and there was no snow on this one. I had to drive a few miles back down the switchbacking road I'd driven up, then off on another spur towards my new objective. Once again I was stopped, this time by a road washout. It almost looked like I could get past the first obstacle, but not 100yds further the road has been completely wiped out to any form of motorized transport. This left me with about a mile of hiking to reach the peak. I followed the continuing road past the washout, then took a branch that traverses the southwest side of the peak. This road ends on the shoulder of the SW Ridge, leaving less than 1/5mi of cross-country up to the summit, an easy enough effort in the open understory. The summit was once again buried in forest with no views, but by now this was to be expected and not really a big disappointment. On the return I decided to go along the NW Ridge, more cross-country, but not troublesome at all and I found it an enjoyable alternative to the road.

Williams Point

I drove back down to Happy Camp and started east as I was now about 50mi from Interstate 5 - it would be a long drive home. I decided to stop for one last summit, Williams Point, tucked between the highway and the Klamath River. The highway goes over a saddle northwest of Williams Point and a spur road goes a short distance towards the summit before ending in a wide, sunny opening that would probably make a nice campsite. Parking here, I was about 2/3mi from the summit and it would take only 20min to reach the top. A decent use trail makes its way along the NW Ridge all the way to the top. There is a lot of poison oak to watch out for along the way. Surprisingly, I found a register in a small collection of rocks at the top, left by Bighorn Bill in 2014. I had last seen one of his registers the previous year - most of his efforts seem to be in the mountains and hills east of Interstate 5, but it seems he's made some trips out west, too. I was back to the jeep by 1:45p and decided that was about enough for the day. I showered where I'd parked before starting the 7hr drive home. It's obviously a lot shorter to Medford, OR, so I can see why Dennis made so many trips to this scenic area...

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