Peak 3,249ft P300
Peak 2,683ft P300
Peak 2,589ft P300
Peak 2,830ft

Sep 21, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


I was in the Sierra foothills on either side of the Kings River, the second of two days taking advantage of unseasonably cool September weather to visit some low elevation summits. It was as much a chance to explore new USFS roads as it was to peakbag, the hikes being modest in length.

Peak 3,249ft

This was the highest summit of the day, not saying much at just over 3,000ft. It is located on the north side of the river, above Balch Camp to the west. I had spent the night camped at a saddle just north of the summit. In the morning I drove the rough road to its end, close enough to make it less than a 10min hike to the summit up the SW Ridge. Clouds and haze were lingering from the previous day, marring views, but one could see down to the Kings River and even some sunlight peeking in shortly after sunrise. Some lichen-covered granite blocks hold the high ground at the summit.

Peak 2,683ft

I drove down to the Kings River, then east from Bailey Bridge on the dirt/gravel E. Trimmer Springs Rd until I was below Peak 2,683ft. It's a 1,500-foot climb in half a mile up the SW Ridge, taking me a little under an hour. The area had been burned in the 2015 Rough Fire, one of the largest in the range up to that time. At these lower elevations the trees are not densely packed, allowing some of the trees to survive while others weren't so lucky. There is little brush to contend with on the south-facing slopes, just lots of grass and thistles which become entangled in shoelaces and socks. Lots of nice views of the surrounding Sierra NF to the north and the Sequoia NF to the south. I returned back down the same route, taking an hour and a half in all.

Peak 2,589ft

I drove back to Bailey Bridge and crossed to the south side of the Kings River. A lesser road then follows the south side of the river to the east, past Rodgers Crossing and further to the Mill Flat CG. I turned south at the campground and followed the Forest road up Mill Flat Creek past Crabtree (where a few homesteads are found) to a junction where the main road climbs up to the south. I parked here for the outing to Peak 2,589ft. The main obstacle is the crossing of Mill Flat Creek, dry at this time of year, but still brushy and rife with poison oak that must be avoided. Once across the creek, the hike is much like the previous one, up steep, grassy slopes for more than 1,000ft. There is much cow grazing here, and the cattle paths can be used to ascend most of the steep section. A barbed-wire fence is encountered on the summit ridge, not in the best shape, but probably still able to keep cattle on one side or the other. I crossed over the fence a few times on my way along the ridge, depending on which side seemed to offer easier travel. I reached the summit about 50min after starting out. I had considered continuing east on the ridge to Peak 3,345ft, but the distance of almost 2mi dissuaded me. I had hoped I might find a use trail along this ridge to make it more appealing, but alas I found none. I would save that one for another time. Heading back down, I chose to descend the South Slopes more directly to Mill Flat Creek, hoping to pick up the trail shown on the topo map that follows the creek. Sadly, the trail sees little or no traffic, and I found no signs of it until I was nearly back to my starting point. No advantage to the descent route that I could find.

Peak 2,830ft

I drove a short distance uphill along the road branch following Davis Creek, looking for a junction that no longer exists. The topo map shows 12S02 climbing halfway up to Peak 2,830ft before veering east and dropping to an abandoned Rancheria site along Mill Flat Creek. I parked at the bottom of the hill overlooking Davis Creek and went off in search of the old road on my way to the peak. I found it soon enough, much of which was still useable for hiking though no longer vehicles. Where it branches east, a cow trail takes one higher along the NW Ridge, nearly to the summit. I thought this was going to be a piece of cake until I got to the final 200ft where a tangle of talus, brush and poison oak combine to give one pause. I was too close to let the poison oak stop me, so I pushed through (carefully), figuring I'd dump my clothes when I got back to the Jeep if necessary. After a few false starts, I finally found a route up the west side that worked without serious thrashing. I left a register under the rocks at the summit, figuring it won't see much traffic over the next few decades. The register is more likely to get torched in a fire before it gets another entry. I found an alternate way off the south side, got startled by a rattlesnake while working through the jungly talus, then circled back to collect my trekking poles where I'd left them when the brush got thick. I worked my way back down the mountain via the cow trails and old road, returning to the Jeep my 1p. I drove down to the Kings River and stopped at one of the deserted dayuse areas to take a quick dip in the river. Chilled but refreshed, I changed into some clean clothes and headed for home...

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