Peak 6,305ft P300
Peak 6,341ft P300
Peak 4,780ft
Peak 4,460ft

Oct 6, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


On my second day in the Lake Isabella area picking up strays, I paid a visit to a pair of unnamed summits on the west side of the Scodie Mtns, taking up the meat of the day. Afterwards, I drove to Kelso Valley to pick up a few stragglers there, also unnamed.

Peak 6,305ft - Peak 6,341ft

These two summits overlook Scodie Canyon, southeast of the small town of Onyx, on the south side of SR178. Scodie Canyon had been used extensively for cattle grazing in decades past, but is now part of the Canebrake Ecological Reserve, managed by the CDFW. Signs on the gates indicate No Trespassing, but that doesn't seem to be the case. One can get a day-use permit (non-hunting) for $4.32 online, which I had procurred a few days earlier. I was a little apprehensive about the hike, noting that it was more than 10mi and 4,000ft of gain. The stats were fine, but I was concerned there might be significant bushwhacking. It turns out I had no need for concern - cross-country travel here is much easier than I had encountered to Bodfish Peak the previous day. The hills here are much drier, in the rainshadow of the higher Piute Mtns to the west. The defining feature of the Scodie Mtns (and everything up Kelso Valley, too) is sand. All the peaks are basically piles of decomposed granite. It's not the soft, loose stuff one finds in the Sierra that can be very tedious, but more compact, providing better footing and decent hiking.

Onyx, my starting point, is a small rural town of hard living and properties strewn with junk. It is not without it's charms - on Easy St, someone has built up a frontier town of minature buildings and figurines. There are many dozens of buildings, and clearly someone has spent years in their construction and placement. On my last visit to Onyx, I was snarled and barked at by various dogs, so I was a little concerned about parking and starting out. I used the southernmost gate near two large water tanks, parking away from the gate and the one resident immediately to the north. I went over the gate at 7:45a and had no trouble with dogs or residents. I would have no trouble on my return, as well.

I walked the various roads in Scodie Canyon for two miles. The ground is bone dry, the grasses brown, and wildlife scant as the canyon awaits reviving winter rains. I've no idea how long the cattle have been absent, but their petrified scat litters the ground, probably for decades to come. After the initial two miles, I started up the long NW Ridge of Peak 6,305ft, marking the start of the 5mi cross-country portion of the morning. The ridge was steep, but footing in the firm sand decent, and I slowly made my way up to Peak 6,305ft over the next hour and a half. Smoke from the Sequoia fires had moved south during the night, leaving awful views with heavy smoke. I probably shouldn't have been exerting myself in such conditions, but I used it as an excuse to go a little slower still. The summit is found at a small collection of rocks, no difficult summit blocks today as I'd found yesterday. I took a few washed-out photos and left a register among the rocks before continuing on to Peak 6,341ft.

My second summit was but a mile away as the crow flies, with a drop of only about 400ft between them. Having dispensed with the brunt of the elevation gain on the first summit, the traverse between the two was an enjoyable jaunt along forest ridges and slopes. It took only about 50min to get from one to the other. The 2014 Nicolls Fire had burned over Peak 6,341ft's summit, and it still has barely started recovering. There were large patches of poodledog bush (stuff that shows up after a fire) that I avoided because of it's poison oak-like properties. Very few new trees have sprouted, and these are mostly small. There was another collection of summit rocks here, and I left a second register before heading back.

I went west over the slightly lower west summit, then down its West Ridge, dropping more than 2,500ft back into Scodie Canyon. Most of the ridge was forested, a good deer trail in the upper half making the descent a snap. Once back in Scodie Canyon, I had 3.5mi of hiking on various roads and cow trails to make my way back to Onyx. There are a number of structures from the canyon's cattle legacy, including water tanks, watering troughs, corrals, and the like. I was back by 1:30p, with plenty of daylight for more peaks, even if I was feeling a little spent.

Peak 4,780ft

I spent half an hour getting from Onyx to my starting point for Peak 4,780ft in Kelso Valley. My access road was Bird Spring Pass Rd that goes over the Scodie Mtns at the named pass. I drove only about a mile on the road before turning off to start up to this minor summit. The hike to the summit is only 3/4mi, but involves 1,000ft of gain up sandy slopes peppered with desert plants. It has two summits, the north one slightly higher. I left a register here before returning the same way.

Peak 4,460ft

This last summit is an easier version of the last, found on the west side of Kelso Valley, on the edge of the Bright Star Wilderness. Access is a little tricky. The BLM shows a motorcycle route on Cortez Way, heading west from paved Kelso Valley Rd. This was blocked where it enters a wash, I suspect by the guy who has a large tract of land on the west side of the wash. I went back out to Kelso Valley Rd and used Irma Dr, about half a mile to the north. This road crosses the wash on a rickety bridge, then goes to this same guy's property. However, instead of turning south and entering his property, a BLM road continues west and then south around his property. This then provides access to the OHV road that bisects the Bright Star Wilderness. I drove this about a mile until I was southeast of Peak 4,460ft, and just over half a mile away. This was an easier climb than the last, going up only 500ft and taking only about 20min to reach the top. This one, too, has two summits, the eastern one lower than the west one by about 20ft. The summit is found outside BLM lands and it is necessary to cross a barbed wire fence between the two summits. I left a last register here before returning back to the Jeep, finishing up at 4p. There were still several hours of daylight, but I'd had enough. After showering, I headed back to Lake Isabella and Taco Bell...


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