Peak 4,642ft
Peak 3,884ft P300
Peak 3,776ft P300
Peak 3,802ft P300
Peak 4,074ft P500
Billie Mountain
Signal Hill P300

Tue, Mar 29, 2022
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2 3 4

Continued...

I was at the eastern edge of the Mojave NP in the Piute Range to visit a number of obscure summits sprinkled throughout the area. It had rained during the night for 2-3 hours, not enough to make driving or hiking difficult, but enough to bring some relief to a parched desert landscape and fresh smells of the desert flora to life, if only for a little while. Overcast skies would slowly clear through the day and temperatures remained chilly, not unwelcomed for hiking.

Peak 4,642ft

I had been to the two highest points in the Piute Range in 2018, one of my first desert outing with the Jeep. Peak 4,642ft lies about a mile south of the other two, and is the 3rd highest summit in the range. Starting from my campsite on the west side around 7a, I spent the first half hour covering easy, low-lying terrain to the base of the mountain. Like much of the range, the peak is composed of dark, volcanic rock which litters the slopes. The upper reaches of the summit are steep and cliffy, but by traversing around to the south side I found easier class 2 slopes, littered with the same rocky debris. The highpoint is found at the north end of the summit ridgeline which I reached after an hour's effort. The smallish range separates two vast desert valleys, Lanfair to the west and Piute to the east. Eastern views were washed out by the early morning sun, but the summit offers nice views looking north and south along the crest of the range. For the descent, I went off the class 2 north side before angling to the west and southwest on my way down the slopes. The ascent and descent routes were about equal in terms of time and difficulty. I was back to the Jeep shortly before 9a.

Peak 3,884ft

I drove about 20min south along the western edge of the range to this next summit. There is an interesting canyon between the summit and the western edge of the Wilderness boundary. The road running along it has several turnouts to the edge of the canyon for viewpoints and camping. Crossing the canyon to reach the peak looks to involve some non-trivial effort since the canyon walls tend to be steep. So for this one, I approached from the northwest around the northern extent of the canyon, allowing me to avoid the down and up across the canyon. Later, I learned I had driven about half a mile into the Wilderness on rough roads that still see occasional traffic. The hiking to the summit was mostly across desert flats with open terrain, then up modest slopes to the summit ridge. There are two points of near-equal height vying for the highpoint. I visited them both in turn, settling on the southern point as probably slightly higher. Between them was a surprising amount of cacti that took some effort to avoid. I left the first of four registers on the summit before heading back down.

Peak 3,776ft - Peak 3,802ft

Another 20min driving saw me south to the junction with Old Government Rd where I started for these two summits. Now part of the Wilderness, the old road goes up to a saddle on the crest of the range before dropping into a canyon on the other side. The ruins of Fort Piute can be found near the mouth of the canyon on the east side of the range. On foot, I followed the old road up to the saddle where it goes over the crest. From there, I turned southeast and east to follow a subsidiary ridgeline to Peak 3,776ft, almost an hour's effort from my starting point. There is a nice view of Piute Valley and further into Nevada from the summit. Peak 4,074ft can be seen in profile to the southwest. I left a register here before retracing my route back along the ridge to the saddle where I'd left the old road. Peak 3,802ft lies a short distance north from the saddle. It took about an hour to get between the two summits. Peak 3,802ft has a benchmark stamped with the date 1910, more than 40yrs after Fort Piute had been abandoned. Good views of both Peak 3,776ft to the southeast and Peak 4,074ft (my next stop) to the south. I left a 3rd register here before heading back to the Jeep more directly, skipping the saddle and Old Government Rd.

Peak 4,074ft

I drove only a short distance south to a second road going over the range. This one is the re-routed Mojave Trail that used to go through Fort Piute. It now is routed along the southern edge of the Wilderness boundary, marking the eastern section of the Mojave Trail between Barstow and Needles. I had seen an OHV drive up the road while I was on Peak 3,776ft, but all was quiet when I parked at the saddle here for my hike to Peak 4,074ft. The distance is about a mile and a quarter up modest slopes to the south and southeast. It would take about 45min to reach the summit which marks the southern extent of the range. After leaving a last register here, I descended via an alternate route, a bit more direct and faster than the ascent route.

Billie Mountain

This minor summit is more of a hill, about a 30min drive southwest from the Piute Range. It is one of several standalone hills in the area. There are numerous mining shafts and prospects around the east side of Billie Mtn in an area called Tungsten Flat on the topo map. I parked at one of the turnouts near one of the deeper shafts (now caged and protected by the Park Service) for the short 15min hike to the top of Billie Mtn. I was back down just as quickly, not much impressed with its "Mountain" designation.

Signal Hill

Higher and more prominent than Billie Mountain, Signal Hill lies a few miles southeast of the other. It took about 25min up easy slopes to reach the summit from the northwest. It overlooks a vast stretch of desert flats to the south reaching to Goffs and the southern edge of the Mojave NP. Barbara Lilley had left a register here in 2011, shortly after Gordon had stopped climbing summits with her, but was still driving with her to the THs. Mine was the only other entry in the intervening 11yrs. It was after 5:30p when I returned to the Jeep and time to call it a day. I would end up driving back out to Lanfair Rd, then further west across Fenner Valley to camp in the lower hills south of Hackberry Mtn. One last day of Mojave NP fun tomorrow...

Continued...


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