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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.
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...
This page last updated: Fri Nov 17 17:31:26 2023
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