Peak 2,890ft P300
Peak 3,493ft P300
Peak 3,690ft P300

Wed, Feb 6, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2

I headed back to the desert for a short trip while the state had a few days to dry out before the next storm system. Seems this has been quite a wet year so far. I headed to the Mojave Front Tier Mtns which Wheeler and Zdon describe as the minor desert summits on the north side of SR58 and Interstate 15. More specifically, I was east of US395 in the hills between Ridgecrest and Barstow, tagging summits in and around the Golden Valley and Grass Valley Wildernesses. It's a lonely stretch of BLM desert lands around dry Cuddleback Lake. The USAF used to maintain a primitive airbase near the lake but abandoned it some decades ago.

Peak 2,890ft

This summit is located in Red Rock Canyon State Park, in its SW corner. It was the only summit within the park I hadn't climbed after we had visited the area the previous November. Tom Becht had managed to tag it before heading home, which makes him the first person I know to have done all of them (as listed on LoJ, anyway). There is a dirt road off SR14 just before the narrow portion of the canyon is reached while driving north. It is signed for no left turn in that direction, but on a non-busy, mid-week afternoon, I chose to ignore that (one can legally drive another 2mi north to the entrance to Red Rock Canyon SP campground/Visitor Center and turn around there). The road only goes about half a mile before one runs into a locked gate. Northeast of this gate is a large parking area to allow visitors to explore the area. The hike to the summit is short, only about half a mile one-way, but there are several interesting sandstone/lava canyons that can be ascended. There was water in the canyon I ascended from recent rains, making for a more pictureque climb than it might otherwise be. The rains have helped a great deal in getting the desert to start to green up. There was even some ice formations as I neared the top of the canyon where it was most shaded and a bit chilly (it would never exceed 42F today). From the summit, I could see the fresh snow to the west on the Southern Sierra, and the very white Telescope Peak and other summits in the Panamint Rangefar to the northeast. Fremont Valley lies to the east and there were large sections of standing water in the normally dry Koehn Lake. To the south stretches SR14 with a large solar farm under construction on its east side.

Peak 3,493ft

I next drove through Fremont Valley and the sad little towns of Randsburg, Johhanesburg and Red Mountain before turning off the highway on a dirt BLM road that heads east along the base of Red Mountain (the peak, not the town). Peak 3,493ft is really the southeast tip of the much larger Red Mountain, with a gap between the two to give Peak 3,493ft sufficient prominence. I used some lesser BLM roads off the main one to get within half a mile of the summit. Not as interesting as the previous peak, it still had some mild class for a small challenge on an otherwise easy summit. It certainly feels more remote as there isn't a paved road in sight and unusually, no cell coverage either. There was a register left by Richard Carey in 2014. Sue & Vic Henney had visited a year later, and Jeff Moffat only a few weeks before I arrived - seems it's becoming overly popular.

Peak 3,690ft

This last summit is also part of the Red Mountain complex, this time on the northeast side. another 3-4mi on some pretty bad roads got me within a mile on its southeast side. I had actually been hoping to approach it via a shorter route from the north, but the road I was following didn't seem to connect with that other route (on the drive back out I found that it does, sort of, if you don't mind a "closed route" sign for a few hundred yards). Though longer, this was a more enjoyable hike with an easier grade and excellent footing, all easy class 2. The short summit ridge I followed was rounded, easy, and just starting to turn green. The only thing I found at the summit was an empty Pepsi can. The views were nice in the late afternoon sun, and much like the second peak, it has a very remote feel. I finished up not long before 5p, leaving me enough time to shower (brrrr - chilly breeze and the water wasn't warm) and to drive the roughest parts of the road back before sunset. There was plenty of light after that to drive another 3mi or so to where I planned to start hiking the next morning. Temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s overnight, so we'll have to see how early I can drag myself out of bed in the morning...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Sun Feb 10 11:46:32 2019
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: