It had been a few weeks since I last summited something. It's not that I
hadn't been traveling, in fact I'd been halfway across the country to
Milwaukee to see my son graduate from Marquette. But it's pretty darn flat
there and the nearest "summit" was the Milwaukee CoHP, found under a
bridge abutment at the edge of the county - far too lame to go out of my
way to seek out. So after I got back I made plans for a four-day trip to
the North Coast along US101, seeking out some P1Ks and CC-listed summits.
The morning was spent driving from San Jose north through San Francisco and the
Golden Gate Bridge to Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, leaving me
the afternoon for hiking. Most of this area is private property, either
for dispersed homesteads, ranches or logging concerns. Luckily there are a
number of public roads that climb up into the hills from US101 to provide
access to these summits.
Mail Ridge South
Mail Ridge runs for 40mi, virtually a range unto itself, separating the Eel
River to the east from the
South Fork Eel River to the west. This unnamed summit is the highest
point on the ridge and the second most prominent. Gravel/dirt Bell Springs Rd
climbs 9mi from US101 to get within 1/3mi of the summit. My route up the
northwest side went over a pig fence and up through
forest understory with modest brush. There was an abandoned
pop-up trailer at the summit. No views from this P900.
You can't miss this just off the west side of Bell Springs Rd as you
drive up. There are homesteads north and south of the large, rocky
formation, but it appears one can climb it from the east, going over a
fallen fence and then class 2-3 scrambling up mossy rocks to the
summit. Very nice views all around from this one.
This is the most prominent summit in the South Fork Eel River Wilderness,
though it seems there may be no legal way to access this northern section
of the Wilderness. Red Mtn Rd forks off Bell Springs Rd to get one to the
summit in about five miles. Unfortunately, the gate at the fork was locked,
presumably because it passes through private property. Dean Gaudet had
found the same only a month earlier. Craig Barlow reported no such issue a
year earlier, so you may find otherwise. The gate is not signed for No
Trespassing, so I suspect it's ok to hike the road. Rather than
make a 9-10mi hike of it, I decided to explore an alternate approach from
the west. The western end of Red Mtn Rd climbs up from US101/SR271,
a long 14mi to get within 2 air miles of the summit. The road is open
to the public but not in great shape (high-clearance recommended), allowing
access to a number of BLM land parcels. Locked gates are found at the various
forks at the end of the road, none of them providing direct access to the
Wilderness or the BLM land that Red Mtn resides in. The property on the
Red Mtn side of the road is owned by a private hunting club. I figured
there was little chance of seeing anybody out here, well outside hunting season.
I hiked about 3mi each way, following hunting roads to their
property boundary with the final mile through the Wilderness on BLM
land. No views from the summit. I stacked up some rocks and left
a register at what I guessed was the highest point. Some views
could be had back down closer to where I had started off Red Mtn Rd.
In the end I didn't save any time because the drive took over an hour each way,
but this route is shorter, a lot more remote and doesn't go by any homesteads.
This P1K is only about 3.5mi of gravel/dirt road driving off US101. Reed Mtn Rd
passes by within 0.2mi of the summit on the north side. I parked on the edge of
the roadway and went up the steep north side, gaining 400ft before reaching the
top. Though also buried in the trees, the summit is somewhat pointy and
found atop a clump of rocks with a dilapidated survey tower. I found a
reference mark but couldn't located the benchmark itself. I should have left
a register on this one too, but I forgot to bring one with me. There are several
homesteads nearby, so best to be quick about it.