Peak 2,470ft P1K
Peak 3,169ft P300
Peak 4,063ft P300
Peak 1,642ft P300

Fri, Oct 29, 2021
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

I was back in the Los Padres NF for the fifth time this month, another day trip to visit some of the peaks burned in the 2020 Dolan Fire. The first and last summits were actually on the military reservation property, not the national forest. Shhh...

Peak 2,470ft

This P1K has been on my radar for over a decade. It lies just north of the Mission at San Antonio de Padua and Fort Hunter-Liggett. There are telecom towers at the summit and roads leading to them from the east and northwest off Mission and Milpitas Rds, respectively. The dirt roads are signed for Permit Required, though the sign at Mission Rd adjacent to the fort complex has faded badly. On my way in to the Los Padres NF, I decided to drive past paved Del Venturi (the usual route) and took Mission Rd instead. It is a well-graded road, going along the east side of Peak 2,470ft, eventually becoming Milpitas Rd when it goes around the north side of the same summit. The road was quiet for the several miles as I drove north, no activity seen anywhere. When I reached the junction with the eastside road to the summit, I found no gate, no signs and just sort of turned off and started driving up. Would it be this easy? It would. Steep in places, I used 4WD for most of the road, arriving at the top in about five minutes. I took pictures from both sides of the towers, though the south side is definitely higher. Afterwards I drove south to go over Pt. 2,449ft (which LoJ currently lists as the highpoint, for curious reasons), ascertaining that it was lower, then off the northwestside road down to Milpitas Rd. Easy as pie.

Peak 3,169ft - Peak 4,063ft

This was the real work of the day. I drove to the end of Del Venturi Rd at Santa Lucia Memorial Park. There were a few folks camping here, but it was mostly quiet. I'd been here two weeks earlier to tackle Peak 3,852ft, a P900 off the Lost Valley Trail. Like that time, I'd brought the bike to ride Indians Rd to the Escondido Campground since the road to it is currently closed to vehicles. Today's peaks were several miles further up the road which has been closed to vehicles since, well, forever, but since it is a corridor through the Wilderness, is still open to bikes. It took about 20min to ride the easy 2.5mi to Escondido CG, after which the real work begins. A locked gate is encountered past the campground where it begins a series of switchbacks to climb more than 600ft up the mountainside. I rode it in my lowest gear, a good workout, taking about 30min. One gets a first view of Peak 3,169ft past the road's highpoint. After this, the road relents with easier gradients as it goes in and out of several side drainages to finally emerge at a high potrero on the east side of Peak 3,169ft. I left the bike in the roadway, crossed a moderately brushy dry creekbed, then up the burned-over slopes leading up to the summit. New manzanita growth was dominant in the lower stretch, becoming scotch broom and eventually a mix of chaparral types. I followed an old firebreak that had fewer charred sticks than elsewhere, finding a short section of partially burned brush that made for only a minor obstacle. I spent about 25min on foot to reach the summit with surprisingly good views, considering it is surrounded on all sides by higher summits.

After returning back down the same route, I rode the bike about a mile back along the road to my starting point for Peak 4,063ft. This would be much more involved effort, about 1.5mi each way with more than 1,200ft of gain. An old firebreak runs up the Southwest Ridge which I would use for most of the effort. My starting point was chosen to avoid unburned areas and small cliffs. I reached the firebreak after 20min on foot, then followed it up for another 40min, steep a few places, but decent footing. The very summit had been spared in the fire, leaving a short section of thick brush. Avoiding the direct route, I moved right onto the southern exposure, with less dense brush and some short paths to make it a pretty easy effort. I found the highpoint among some rocks and paused here to take in the views and catch my breath. It would take about 45min to get myself back to the road and the bike, and then another 45min to ride back to the Jeep. About 17mi all told, luckily most of that on the bike.

Peak 1,642ft

With more time and energy, I decided to add this bonus summit at the end. It lies within the miltary reservation, near the junction of Milpitas Rd and Del Venturi. I turned off Del Venturi on an unmarked spur road that lead west to the south side of the summit. The peak had only partially burned in the fire, so I had to stay off the lower half of the South Ridge, favoring the west side where the burn had been more complete. Higher up, I could follow the ridgeline that had a barbed-wire fence running along its length. Views are pretty weak from this diminuitive summit, but the whole effort took less than 25min. After 3:30p when I returned, I took a shower and changed into some fresh clothes before starting for home. Satisfied with the day's work, I was already making plans for a return visit in a few days...

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