Peak 4,874ft P300
Peak 5,924ft P500 PD
Peak 5,700ft P300 PD
Peak 6,244ft P500 PD
Peak 5,337ft P300
Peak 5,055ft P300

Tue, Mar 31, 2020
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


The second of two days on a short, solo desert roadtrip was spent in the Southern Sierra between SR178 and SR58. Bounded by the Scodie Mtns to the north and Jawbone Canyon to the south, this large area of dry hills lies in the rainshadow of the higher Piute Mtns to the west. The first summit lies within the Kiavah Wilderness (encompassing most of the Scodie Mtns), the next three in the Jawbone OHV area and the last two on private property. None of the hikes were particularly long nor had significant elevation gain, making for a pretty tame day, overall.

Peak 4,874ft

My first stop was the southernmost summit in the Kiavah Wilderness, a short half mile hike from dirt SC106. I parked on the southwest side of the peak where a hiker/equestrian access gate was located on the Wilderness periphery fence. It took about 40min to reach the summit, the upper slopes having some granite blocks for moderately interesting scrambling, the best I would find all day, though not really saying much. The summit has a decent view of the HPS Skinner Peak to the northwest. I knew that Bob Sumner had been to the summit two years earlier so I added his name along with my own to the register I left. On the descent I headed off the southeast side in order to take advantage of sandier slopes found there, making for a fairly quick return in about 20min.

Peak 5,924ft - Peak 5,700ft - Peak 6,244ft

After returning to the jeep, I drove another 7-8mi on OHV roads to reach the Sierra Crest between Peak 6,244ft to the north and two other peaks to the south. I could have driven the jeep close to the tops of Peak 5,924ft and Peak 5,700ft, but chose to make a 4mi RT effort of it on foot, utilizing a section of the PCT I had never been on. Though the PCT bypasses both summits, a motorcycle track leads to the top of Peak 5,924ft, my first stop, and an OHV route going along the crest very nearly reaches to Peak 5,700ft. Consequently, there was only a short section of cross-country, maybe 300ft at the very end. The hills are mostly covered in sparse brush and occasional joshua trees, leaving wide-open views for most of the hike. The portion between the two peaks along the crest offered the nicest views, particularly to the west where some snow could be seen lingering on the shadier aspects of the Piute Mtns. I spent two hours on the roundtrip effort. After returning, I repositioned the jeep at another saddle further north before setting off on the PCT in that direction for the higher Peak 6,244ft. Once again the PCT bypasses the summit, but easy cross-country leads up the west side of the peak from the trail, taking about 35min from the starting saddle. I left a register at this summit as well before heading back via nearly the same route.

Peak 5,337ft

The last two summits are found about 10mi further south as the crow flies. I descended an OHV road off the west side of the crest down the Frog Creek drainage to reach the paved Kelso Valley Road. I drove this south, up and over a saddle on the crest (where someone had cached a great deal of bottled water for the PCT through hikers that would soon be coming this way), and down the other side on dirt Jawbone Canyon Rd. Peak 5,337ft is located just off the south side of the road, on private property peppered with large wind turbines. Parking at a pass, I went over a fenceline and steeply up the sandy slope, eventually gaining an old motorcycle track that I followed to the summit, all of fifteen minutes' work. Several dozen turbines can be seen from the summit, with a connecting network of well-graded dirt roads, all off-limits to the public. The land here is still used for grazing, part of a private ranch that most likely leased the space to the turbine enterprise. The HPS summit of Butterbredt rises considerably higher to the north across the saddle where I parked.

Peak 5,055ft

This last summit is about a mile east of Peak 5,337ft, also a short hike from Jawbone Canyon Rd. There are no turbines on the slopes of the peak, and though it seems likely to also be on private property, there is a motorcycle track that sees regular usage going to the summit. I returned to the jeep by 1:40p where I showered and changed into fresh clothes before starting the 6hr drive back to San Jose. I drove the remaining distance down Jawbone Canyon Road, through the open OHV area, incredibly popular on weekends. If you've never seen what a bunch of motorcyclists can do when they have free reign over the landscape, it can be quite impressive, depressing or sobering, depending on your view of such freedom...

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