Peak 1,441ft P300
Peak 1,225ft P300
Peoria Mountain P500
Bostick Mountain P500

Apr 6, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


On a quick overnight trip to the Sierra foothills around Sonora, I'd spent the night camped off the side of Jacksonville Rd, between Sonora and Don Pedro Reservoir. I was up early to tag a few warm-up peaks before heading for the main event to the north, at New Melones Reservoir.

Peak 1,441ft

This minor summit overlooks Don Pedro Reservoir on the NE shore, immediately across the lake from the James E Roberts Memorial Bridge (SR120). Spur Harney Rd forks off Jacksonville Rd and dead ends at a gate past a small sheep ranch. The peak and some of the area around this side of the lake are on BLM lands. Finding the gate unlocked, I drove a short distance further where the road forks, and parked. On foot, I followed the upper road for about a quarter mile before heading cross-country up the grass slopes towards the summit from the southwest. The slopes are peppered with oak trees and some brush, no real hindrance. There are good views of the lake all the way up. The very green grasses were also quite damp in the early morning, so my boots got a bit of a soaking. It took all of 20min to make my way to the summit with some decent views of the lake. I left a register here before returning the same way.

Peak 1,225ft

This is the highpoint of Moccasin Point, jutting out into the lake from its southwest side, near the junction of Jacksonville Rd and SR120. As others had done, I approached from an old, gated road on the southwest side, parking just off Jacksonville Rd. It's a short hike of less than 15min to the summit, using a combination of the old road and cross-country. Some minor downfall and brush is encountered just below the summit. The views are nearly as good as from the first peak, mostly overlooking various aspects of the reservoir. Levi Cover had left a register here a year earlier, no other entries until my arrival. Nice little peak, easy to do if you're on your way to Yosemite.

Peoria Mtn - Bostick Mtn

This was the meat of the day, a 7mi+ loop around the southwest side of New Melones Reservoir. The two peaks each have more than 500ft of prominence, but while Peoria had more than a dozen ascents on PB, Bostick had only one. This is because Peoria is easily reached via the trail system starting at the Peoria Ridge Trailhead parking at the end of Old Melones Rd. Bostick is found on the north side of the dam where public access is restricted. It was Michael Toffey's track from PB that got me interested in this, and it turned out to be a good one, despite the restrictions.

It was just shy of 9a when I started out, following the trail up the oak woodland/grass slopes climbing a ridge to the north. The track eventually turns east and continues climbing, becoming an old ranch road that leads up to the lower NW summit and then along the summit ridgeline. I visited the PB-only north summit first, then continued to the highpoint of Peoria Mtn, taking about 45min. There was a messy geocache found at the summit, and views overlooking portions of the lake and the surrounding countryside. I then returned back to the northwest, skirting the lower summit and following a spur road/trail to an overlook on the north side of the lower summit where a tower is located. Here's where the route becomes more interesting. There is a fine view of the dam below to the north. It's a 600-foot drop over a very short distance to get down to the dam. There is much rock and cliffiness about this side of the mountain. Michael had gone down the slope to the east of the overlook, finding the route "improbable," in his words. I looked over that way while at the lookout and could certainly see why he went there - it made for the obvious choice. However, I knew from studying the satellite view that there is a faint trail visible to the west of the overlook, so I went that way in search of it. After a few minutes of scrambling down rocks, I found the trail and it was pretty good - it made the difference between "improbable" and "cool". It goes down very steeply and looks like it could get muddy and dangerous in inclement weather, but today it was almost like a steep staircase. It appears that Michael eventually found his way to the same trail once he had descended about 2/3 of the distance. The trail neatly exits onto the dam at its southern end.

There are no signs anywhere indicating No Trespassing or other curtailments, at least in the northbound direction. On the way back I noticed several small signs indicating Authorized Personnel Only. I guess they didn't really expect people to be coming the other direction. The road across the dam terminates where I landed on the south side of the dam. It originates from the power station below, climbing the lower slopes of Bostick Mtn to arrive at the dam from the north. I walked across the dam to the north end, then made a deviation from Michael's route. Where he continued on the road, climbing to a saddle where it begins to go downhill, I left the road to go up the very steep slopes immediately above the north side of the dam, a quicker way to reach the PB-only point of Iron Canyon Pt. This took some class 3 scrambling to access, then an airy ascent up grass and rock slopes, around some fencing, before arriving at the rounded point above. There was a piece of survey equipment left there, but no register. I could look down on the paved road to the north, not seeing any vehicles, persons or other concerns. From the lower point, it's about a mile to Bostick Mtn, all cross-country once the road is crossed, moderately tall grasses and not at all unpleasant. There were flowers of white and yellow, and plenty of oak trees to offer cover from detection once away from the road.

I reached Bostick's summit after going over a few minor false points, finding a large rocky outcrop at the top. Michael reported this as class 3, but he ascended it from the harder east side. I went up and down the west side which I thought to be class 2, though one has to dodge a bit of poison oak in doing so. The views were much more open than on Peoria and I thought it easily the better of the two summits. I left a register on this one, finding it well-deserving. After a short rest, I headed back much the way I had come, though I bypassed the Iron Canyon Pt and used the road for the last quarter mile back to the dam. Once back to the south side, I followed a use trail heading down the edge of the dam about a hundred feet to reach the top of a staircase which could be descended a similar distance to reach an old road, which in turn could be followed back to the TH. My route deviated again from Michael's, but not intentionally. He had turned off this road to reclimb about 200ft under a transmission line to reach a higher, paved road, the end-point for the old picnic site. Here he found a huge sign of negative verbage. I simply followed the old road, which made for a lovely trail, and a few left turns near the end to return back to the start. The only signs I saw were to prohibit vehicles and equestrians, and it appears the whole portion of the road is publicly accessible. In either direction, it seems the route along the staircase, edge of dam, and the use trail up to the overlook are all perfectly legal. I finished up shortly before 1p, having spent just over 4hrs on the outing. And with that, it was time to head home...

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