My daughter was off to college and my wife was deep in women's volleyball
season, leaving me at the start of the Fall tons-o-free-time season. I had a
backpack trip to SEKI NP planned for the weekend, but wanted to do some
dayhikes beforehand. Today's collection are found in the adjacent Sequoia
National Forest. Most were pretty short, less than a quarter mile, but due to
a road closure (reason not obvious), I did get in a 5mi+ hike to tag two of
them. Leaving San Jose around 6a, it would take me something over four hours
of driving to get to the first hike.
This 4mi-long ridge is found north of SR180, before reaching the SEKI entrance
booth. The access road is partially paved, but becomes decent dirt road about a
mile before reaching the ridgeline at a saddle between the two summits. Fire
burned over the northern half of the ridge a few years ago, leaving lots of
standing snags which mar views from the grassy summit. The
didn't burn, is a bit brushy, and also has poor views. Several hunters were
out driving slowly along the roads, decked out in camo gear and looking for
easy marks. Gotta love deer season.
Peak 8,140ft #1
The rest of the peaks are located in that part of the national forest on the
other side of the SEKI entrance, one of the few forest areas you have to pay
national park fees to visit. This summit was the furthest east, 10mi out along
Big Meadow Rd, used to access the Marvin Pass TH and Lookout Peak. The pavement
ends at Horse Corral Meadow, but a good dirt road continues towards Lookout
Peak. A rougher spur road gets one to within 1/4mi of the summit to the
northeast. Careful route-finding keeps brush (manzanita & buckthorn) to a
minimum, same for the rest of these peaks. A granite outcrop of large
rocks marks the highpoint with nice views of
the Monarch Divide.
Peak 8,140ft #2
This one is about 5mi west of #1. Good dirt roads get you within a mile of
the summit on the east side. The Buck Rock Jeep Trail (rated
most difficult with lots of warnings) goes over the summit west to
east. I used this to drive to within about 20ft of the summit, another
granite outcrop atop a modest granite dome.
The driving was more fun than the exceedingly short scramble.
Peak 8,433ft / Peak 8,180ft
This closely-spaced pair of summits are found a few miles northeast of the
Buck Rock lookout. A good dirt road goes over the saddle between the two, but
was not currently driveable. It was gated at the pavement, about 2mi
short of the saddle, a sign simply saying, Closed to the Public. Not
closed to the ranchers who manage the many cattle that graze in the area,
however. I parked at the gate and walked the road, past several
lovely green meadows that were surprisingly devoid of cattle (though
they had magically appeared
on my way back). Like the previous two peaks, and most of those in this area,
the summits had granite rock outcrops, short scrambles with
None of the peaks are particularly high, leaving views to the south blocked
by Shell Mtn (kinda boring), and to the west by Park Ridge. Kings Canyon lies
not far to the north and northeast, but views are mostly blocked by trees
with occasionally good views of the Monarch Divide, especially
Wren Peak and Eagle Peaks.
Peak 8,180ft also featured a view up the Middle Fork of the Kings
River where the Obelisk, Tehipite Dome and Kettle Peak can be seen with
higher peaks in the far background.
This minor summit is found about 4mi south of Hume Lake. Driving is trivial
along Hume Lake Rd to a primitive campground on the south side of
Lava Butte. The hike is similarly trivial, less than 1/5mi. I found a convenient
use trail leading through some thick manzanita to the
impressive summit block some 40ft high. I went up a class 3 route on
the southeast side, reaching the perchy summit, half occupied
by a sad, old oak tree covered in parasitic mistletoe. There is an
easier class 1-2 route off the north side I found on the way down. Nice view of
Buck Rock from the summit, but not much else.
After showering back at the Jeep, I drove down to Hume Lake in search of
dinner. I found a cafe at the Christian Camp that served up a rather
large burger for almost $10. Non-burger options are limited to chicken
sandwiches, corndogs and such. The outside seating had a fine view of
Hume Lake as sunset neared. There was a group of 6 guys playing
volleyball nearby, but otherwise the camp was pretty quiet. I found a secluded
spot to camp off Hume Lake Rd on my way back up to SR180. Good times...