Oak Mountain P750
Peak 3,180ft P300
Little Bagley Mountain P300
Bagley Mountain P1K

Tue, May 7, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

With my knee getting better by the week, I took a trip back up to Northern California, my third in as many weeks. This one would take in three days of peakbagging around the Shasta-Trinity National Forest north of SR299, none of the peaks especially difficult, in keeping with my More Driving - Less Hiking knee therapy. I left San Jose before 7a, doing well to get out of town before traffic worsened, only to get a call from my wife after 40min on the road. "Hun, it looks like you left your wallet at home here." Drats. I'd have probably driven to Dunnigan where I planned to get gas before I'd figured that out myself. That would have left me without any money and not enough gas to get home, and boy would THAT have sucked. I thanked her, turned around at the next exit and proceeded to fight traffic back to San Jose and then another escape. It ended up costing me two hours' time, but still better than the alternative. As a result I didn't get off the highway until after 1p near Hillcrest where I headed for the Pit River. The river is one of the main tributaries of Lake Shasta, roughly following the route of SR299. PG&E has installed seven dams, a number of reservoirs, and power-generating aqueducts in the area. I crossed the Pit River at the James B Black Powerhouse (paved to this point) before starting on a good gravel road heading up to Iron Canyon Reservoir. My first stop was intended to be Bagley Mtn and I followed a spur road over one of the aqueducts before finding it gated where it begins to drop to Iron Canyon Creek. The area around here is a patchwork of private/public tracts with the Sierra Pacific Company owning most of the private tracts. Sometimes you can drive on their roads, sometimes you can't. They tend to maintain roads when actively logging an area, then leave them to neglect for decades at a time. It's kind of a crapshoot as to where one can get to. I suspect that hunters often clear downfall from the roads in the Fall to maintain access. At this time in Spring, not many of the downed trees have been cleared. This was just the first such disappointment I would find on this trip, with many roads blocked by downfall, snow, gates, washouts or active construction. Luckily I had a nearly full tank of gas and plenty of resources to hunt down alternate peaks in the area, even if I couldn't get to the intended peaks.

Oak Mountain

Unable to make it to Bagley Mtn using my first choice of roads, I returned to the main forest road, noting there were other possible route to Bagley from the Iron Canyon Reservoir. The main road between the Pit River power station and the reservoir is called Oak Mountain Rd and conveniently goes near the summit of Oak Mtn, which I would make my first stop. With almost 800ft of prominence, it commands the highground between the Pit River and Iron Canyon Creek. I parked on the southwest side of the summit where the road came closest at a quarter mile. It was a short, steep climb that took all of ten minutes to reach the top, through forest understory with moderate brush. The summit has a solar-powered antenna amidst an old clearing of trees, chopped up and stacked haphazardly in numerous piles like so many pieces of forgotten firewood. They didn't cut the periphery trees, however, so no views from the summit.

Peak 3,180ft

This unnamed summit also lies along Oak Mtn Rd, just south and above Iron Canyon Reservoir. I parked on the east side of mountain and went straight up from there. The 7.5' topo map suggests two closed contours at either end of the summit ridge shaped roughly like the number "7". The actual highpoint appears to be in a cluster of trees in between these two points. Nothing much to recommend this one - just a freebie while I was still searching out Bagley Mtn.

Little Bagley Mountain / Bagley Mountain

After reaching a junction just north of Peak 3,180ft, I turned left and drove across the Iron Canyon Reservoir dam and up into the higher hills to the west. There is a network of logging roads that showed significantly less traffic, and two of the routes I tried were blocked by downfall. On my third attempt I reached the main ridgeline between Iron Canyon Creek to the east and Squaw Creek to the west. I turned south and drove it to a clearing that would make for a nice campsite later in the evening. Here, three roads branch south towards Bagley, all of them blocked by downfall. At this point I was 2.5 air miles from Bagley and with almost four hours of daylight remaining, I figured it would be good enough - I'd do the rest on foot. Most of the route to Bagley was free of downfall and I suspect it is usually maintained for public use, perhaps just a little too early in the season yet. This made for easy walking with nice views mostly to the Squaw Creek side of the ridge, though much of this has been heavily logged in the past few years leaving many acres of denuded hillsides. After a mile and three quarters, the road passes Little Bagley Mtn on its east side, less than half a mile away. I figured I should visit this bonus while I was out here, so left the comfort of the road for a bit of bushwhacking. The route wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either, following the NE Ridge for the most part. There was some heavier brush to push through to start, then more open travel but lots of poison oak that caused me to make multiple diversions. A large tree that had fallen at first looked like another obstacle, but I noticed it had landed among one of the denser poison oak patches and by walking along the length of it I was able to avoid this hazard. After about 20 minutes I found my way to the summit rocks where I stacked a small pile of rocks to call it good. No views, as expected. I returned back via the same route and once on the road was able to relax for the next hour as I continued south along the ridge to the higher Bagley Mtn. Most of this P1K's summit had been logged of late and the brush had not yet had time to become troublesome. I hiked the short cross-country distance up the NW Ridge. There was a USFS benchmark in a small clearing and mostly open views on all sides, the brush here doing it's best to grow tall enough to block it, and will probably succeed within a few years' time. I could see snowy peaks to the southeast - Crater Peak and Snowy Mtn, as well as Mt. Shasta to the northwest. To the southwest, a collection of lower ridgelines spread out into the distance towards Lake Shasta, unseen in the hazy distance. My return back to the start followed the same road and was mostly uneventful, save for one particular alligator lizard that refused to run off the road as most of his compadres had done all afternoon. He stood looking up at me, challenging me with as much gumption as his 8 inches could muster. Seems he was more interested in catching the last rays of sunlight than in saving his own skin. I took a few photos of him and let him be, wondering if a bobcat or coyote would give him the same pass.

It was nearly 8p by the time I returned to the jeep, still plenty of light with the days becoming noticeably longer. It was getting so I would have hardly enough darkness to sleep a full eight hours. After showering, I decided to see if I could drive closer to the next day's objecives. To the west, across Squaw Creek, rose two P1Ks, North Fork Mtn and the oddly named Shoeinhorse Mtn. The road dropping 1,200ft down to the creek started off well enough, but I was stopped where a side creek had cut an erosion channel across the road creating an 18-inch drop. This could not be managed in the jeep without damage, I feared, so I gave it up and drove back up the road from where I started. By now it was after 9p so I decided to camp there on top of the ridge and work out another route in the morning.


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