Panoche Hills HP 2x P1K
Peak 2,389ft P500
Cima Hill
Peak 2,281ft P300

Mar 14, 2014
Panoche Hills HP
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile
Panoche Hills HP previously climbed Oct 26, 2010
Panoche Hills HP later climbed Mar 21, 2020

There was some fine March weather over California and I'd spent the week making visits to the Panoche Valley area to visit BLM lands in the adjacent hills. Monday I had ridden my bike in the Tumey Hills, Wednesday on foot in the Griswold Hills, and today I had come back for another bike ride in the Panoche Hills. Of the three, the Panoche Hills are the most convenient for vehicle access. The entrance off Little Panoche Rd leads to a good gravel road that first climbs three miles of an easement though private ranchland before rising to the main crest of the range with various side roads branching off. The main BLM road, signed P1, winds its way along the crest for a number of miles to the south. I was able to drive this road with my van a few miles further than I had expected, shortening the day's mileage some.

I arrived at the BLM entrance around 8:45a and spent about 35 minutes driving the roads high into the hills and then south along P1. I parked just past a gate where the next hill would be more than my poor van could handle, far too steep for its 2WD capabilities. I started out by pushing the bike up the hill, a practice I would repeat for most of the hills since the roads make no effort to lessen their gradient. I found the Panoche Hills greener than either of the other two ranges and though they weren't plentiful, there were wildflowers in various colors found along the way. I followed P1 for about two miles before turning east on a ridge in that direction, along which I would find two of the day's summits I was seeking. For the next mile and a half there were no roads to follow, but biking was not difficult (except the uphills, of course) as there was a decent cow track along the ridge. The ride was a bit bumpy and I lost one of my two Gatorade bottles I had been carrying, but one proved sufficient on the day. An hour after starting out I had reached the summit of Peak 2,389ft, the highpoint along the ridge. To the south was a lower subsidiary summit that I paid a side visit to because it was shown on the topo to have a benchmark. I found two benchmarks at the summit, one unlabeled and the other marked DOSADOS (named for Dosados Canyon found to the northeast). I then headed back towards Peak 2,389ft and picked up a jeep road on the east side that I rode downhill (with some undulations, naturally) for several miles to Cima Hill more than 1,000ft lower.

Cima Hill is located just outside the BLM lands though there is no fence to delineate the boundary. The hill itself has little prominence and it seems a puzzle that a name found its way to the topo map for this small bump. Regardless, it made for a nice ride and a chance to explore eastward into the range, almost to the Central Valley (I was only 3 miles from I-5 at Cima Hill). Now 11a, I would spend the next hour and a half retracing my route back over Peak 2,389ft with its double summit and nearly back to the van. I then decided to leave the bike and hike on foot out on another ridge to a third summit, Peak 2,281ft. Though roadless, I probably could have ridden the bike along the well-packed ridgeline, at least where it didn't trend steeply uphill. About halfway along, atop a higher summit with less prominence, I came across a rather large cairn, more than six feet in height that someone had taken pains to errect. I added another six inches to the cairn before continuing on my way. Along the rolling ridgeline I went, finally reaching Peak 2,281ft by 1:15p. To the south lay the other unnamed summit, Peak 2,389ft, and to the north were more ridgelines of the Panoche Hills that looked like they might be fun to explore on a future visit.

I returned to the bike and then van in 45 minutes, almost an hour earlier than I had planned. With some extra time I decided to pay a visit to the Panoche Hills HP (2,684ft) that I had tagged on a previous trip. It's only about half a mile roundtrip, so it seemed like a freebie. There is some old seismograph equipment found at the summit which didn't look to be in service. Still, I gave it a wide berth lest someone in a USGS monitoring station notice an enormous earthquake erroneously recorded somewhere in Central California. Back down near the entrance gate, I passed by something called the D.A.R.C. Observatory, a private facility. I would have thought its low elevation and nearness to the Central Valley would preclude it from being a good observation site, but it appears I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time...

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This page last updated: Fri Mar 28 17:18:09 2014
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