This was as last-minute planning as I can recall doing for an overnight trip.
Late the previous night, my wife let me know she was going to be gone most of
the day and the next. It wasn't until I woke up around 6:15a the next morning
that I thought to put a plan into action. I got online for about 45min, working
out a plan for the day based on "Where has Kerry Breen been that I haven't,"
and was out the door by 7a. I was headed to the Sierra foothills around Folsom
Lake in western El Dorado County. It was a collection of mostly public summits
with some exceptions. The longest outing was about 3mi roundtrip, the shortest
less than a mile, but it kept me busy pretty much all day.
This is the westernmost summit in El Dorado County, located in the suburb of La
Cresta Village. provides access to an
along the summit ridgeline through a small oak woodland.
The highpoint is in , adjacent
to a water tank. There is no fence or signage to discourage one, but the
creep-factor is unmistakable. A 15min effort.
This is the highpoint of a stretch of BLM/state lands between Cameron Park
and Shingle Springs, a short distance north of US50. A network of
have been informally cut through the thick manzanita, clearly visible on the
satellite view. Most of these are depicted on the topo map.
There appears to have been some work at , but it
doesn't appear to have been completed. In drier years, the whole place looks
like a fire hazard waiting to get torched and threatening the surrounding
neighborhoods. A well-used I found on the way to the summit
could easily be the cause of it someday. No views from as
the manzanita is over head level. are a godsend, but the
overall experience was pretty meh.
This was the most interesting summit of the day, found on BLM/state lands east
of Folsom Lake. The BLM lands are designated as the
mostly open to bird hunting and those using more challenging hunting
options (like bow hunters and muzzleloaders). The state lands are part of the
Pine Hill Ecological Preserve for which one is supposed have written permission
to enter. is on Kanaka Valley Rd, southeast of the
summit. A younger guy was there when I pulled up, unloading a pick axe and a
couple of metal detectors from his truck - I wasn't the only non-hunter there
today. He asked if I'd seen any rattlesnakes, worried that the warmer temps
would bring them out. I was of no help of course, as this was my first visit to
the area. As far as I could tell, one needs to travel through the ecological
preserve in order to reach the summit. The satellite view shows a shorter route
through the BLM lands only, but I failed to find this trail near its start,
instead floundering until got too thick and I gave up.
I ended up following much of Kerry's route, though I did find a shortcut in the
preserve to save maybe half a mile. The route was very , a
combination of to start (very green this year), and
for the second half. The has a
locked gate, fence, and signed for No Trespassing.
The fence is easy to step over on the left side of the gate. One follows the
trail system in the preserve north, west, then south to arrive at the base of
the summit on its east side with about 600 horizontal feet to the summit.
of this final ascent is easier, with brush encounters
avoidable, but it eventually devolves into , no matter how
careful the route-finding. It's not bad overall and I saw no poison oak in the
chaparral, so there's that. The summit has a collection of rocks,
of which is to the west side with to
Folsom Lake in the distance. There is evidence of drinking and regular visits
to the area back in the day. The topo map shows old roads getting close to the
summit, but only scattered remnants of those remain. The summit was surely more
accessible in decades past. It took me a bit over an hour to reach the
highpoint, but would take only 45min for once I had things
This summit is two miles north of the previous one, but it would take a half
hour of driving to get between the two. Peak 1,060ft rises above the South Fork
of the American River, near the . There is a $10
fee to park at or across the street at the Skunk
Hollow parking lot. Both sides of the road are signed for No Parking. However,
the parking area on the south side of the bridge has no such signage. The area
is popular with mountain bikers, hikers, and fisherfolk. Rather than use Kerry's
track that approaches from the backside that is said to be rife with poison oak,
I used the much shorter approach from Chromio Muldoon's track that goes up
on the steep south side. There is a use trail of sorts
through this meandering break (that reverses uphill direction several times,
inexplicably) but very little poison oak until one gets to the summit. Even
there, it was easy enough to work around it. is
definitely higher, about 10ft by my measurement. I the same
way, a little less than an hour for the effort.
This one is on private property on the west side of Folsom Lake, but it doesn't
seem to be patrolled or cared for. Access is from paved Rattlesnake Bar Rd that
goes to the lake and Rattlesnake Bar State Park. A goes
south nearly to the summit. There is some trash dumps along the road shortly
after starting on it. I suspected it wasn't the owner doing so, and on the way
out I checked the gate - it is unlocked and I could have driven most of it. I
walked the mile distance to find
that lead nicely to the summit. From the satellite view, there appears to be a
whole network of trails, created and signed by a Star Wars fan, giving them
names like , , and . There is
labeled FLAGSTAFF and some of the lake, but
blocks most of the views on these trails. I
spent about 50min on this one.
I should have done this one before Flagstaff, because I passed right by it on
my way to Flagstaff Hill. Pilot Hill has a Cal Fire lookout but is surrounded
by private property. Brett Moffatt found a way to access it from an empty lot
near the summit for sale, reached via Pilot View Dr (outside the gated
community). Rather than park at the empty lot, I just off the
pavement and took up to the summit, following the second
half of Kerry's track. Nice from the summit,
, all of 15min's work.
These last three summits are all well east of Folsom Lake, not far from SR49.
Peak 1,321ft is located within the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park on BLM
lands. I parked at the east of the peak and used
David Sanger's track, the same used by Kerry. It's quite popular with hikers,
bikers, and equestrians. Even though it was getting close to 6p, there were a
dozen cars in the lot. The is well-maintained. The terrain
is a mix of and more . The
lateness of the day made for with everything so
green. There are several on the summit ridge, one on each
end, both with of the South Fork American River. There were still
a dozen cars when I after 7p.
Peak 1,827ft - Thompson Hill
These are both drive-ups between the last summit and Placerville, off SR49.
Both have at the very summit, only a few feet higher than their
paved access roads in rural communities. I got to right
I ended up having dinner in Placerville while trying to figure out a plan for
the next day. I had wanted to go to some of the higher elevations, but could
figure out little as to which roads might be open and where snow levels might
be. Finally, around 9p, I decided to drive home but didn't make it that far. As
I was driving through Sacramento, it occurred to me that I could find some
things to do in Solano County around Vacaville the next morning before it
got too warm. I found a place near Lagoon Valley to spend the night off I-80.
The road noise was more or less a constant drone, and I slept quite well that