Peak 6,900ft
Peak 6,963ft P300
Liberty Hill
Peak 7,656ft P500
Dome Rock P300
Peak 5,100ft P300

Aug 25, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX Profiles: 1 2

In looking over maps of Tuolumne County, I noticed a named summit called Dome Rock in the southwest corner of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness that I not yet visited. It is not an easy summit to reach. At first glance, based on trip reports found on PB, it appears to make for a long hike, some 16-18mi roundtrip. I then noticed a Forest Service road leading to the Bummers Flat TH to the west, which would make for a roundtrip hike of around 4mi. I had no idea if this road was still maintained or open, but I decided to build an overnight trip around it, giving me a chance to collect a handful of peaks in the northern part of the county, mostly within the Stanislaus National Forest. Much of the trip would be Jeeping around Forest roads with short to medium hikes along the way. I was up early, making for a peaceful drive across the state and allowing me almost a full day in the hills.

Peak 6,900ft - Peak 6,963ft

These two summits are found to the west of paved Spicer Reservoir Rd. Kerry Breen has a TR on PB that describes a non-arduous outing to the second peak. I figured it should be easy enough to combine both in a single outing. I was only about half a mile along Spicer Reservoir Rd from SR4 when about 50yds ahead of me, a guy on a BMW touring bike came zipping around a sharp turn in the opposite direction at a spirited clip. A scattering of sand, dirt and pine needles proved his undoing as his rear wheel slid out from under him, and sent both of them skidding across the road and into a ditch. I immediately pulled the Jeep off the road and went to his assistance. His first thought was to jump up and try to pull his bike out of the ditch. It was lodged against a large rock and it would take more than one person to get it out. I asked him if he was Ok, thinking he might have serious injuries that he didn't even acknowledge yet. He paused to consider this, but quickly said he was Ok. His helmet and leather clothing had protected him well, and all we could find later was some abrasions on one forearm where his jacket sleeve had pulled back as he slid across the pavement. His heavy breathing indicated he was currently being fueled by an injection of adrenaline that would take some time to subside. It was affecting his thinking some, but he managed well enough, considering the shock he just experienced. Getting the bike out was a bigger problem, but with the two of us working at it, managed to get it righted and parked on the roadway after about 10min's effort. It had a broken windshield, busted rearview mirror and other minor tweaks, but it started up fine and the steel-tube cage around the engine had protected it from more serious damage. He thanked me profusely for helping him out, commenting that he would still be stuck in the ditch if I hadn't happened along. The road sees regular traffic, so it would probably be only about 15min before someone else would have wandered by. It was nice to be able to help the guy out, but I hope he takes it a little easier on the curves in the future.

I continued on Spicer Reservoir Rd for a few more miles until it makes a sharp turn just west of Peak 6,900ft. Spur Forest Rte 7N01A forks south here, the starting point Kerry had used for his effort. I drove in, found a guy camping at its end, and ended up backing out nearly to the pavement before parking. This would do nicely. I was only a few minutes in getting my gear together and heading out just shy of 8:30a. I headed cross-country to the west, through mostly open forest in a fairly direct line for Peak 6,900ft. As I neared the summit 15min later, the forest opens up to a talus and dirt slope, leading to the volcanic rock outcrops that comprise the summit area. There are several small outcrops vying for highpoint honors and I visited them in turn without making any determination as to which was highest, nor finding a register at any of them. Views aren't so great from the summit, which I'd rate as pretty blah.

I headed southeast off the summit area, descending through forest with much downfall. Partway down, at the top of a rocky cliff area, I had a view of Peak 6,963ft to the south. It's forested summit suggested poor views there, too. 20min from Peak 6,900ft's summit, I landed on the poorly maintained trail that connects the Wolfboro BSA camp at Hells Kitchen to the west with Spicer Reservoir to the east. I followed this east and southeast, following a portion of the trail Kerry had used. Much as he described, the trail isn't too hard to follow, supplied with regular ducks and some flagging to keep one on the track. About 1/3mi from Peak 6,963ft on its northeast side, I left the trail to head cross-country for the summit. It took only 10min to find my way to the large summit rock that stands at the highpoint. It can be climbed on its north side via class 3 thin steps, or from the east with some face climbing, also class 3. The summit is open to views looking southwest towards Liberty Hill where I would head later. I collected some rocks to leave a register atop the 12-foot summit rock, then retreated back down the peak via much the same route. Once back to the trail, it would take me another 20min to find my way back along it to my starting point. I finished up just short of 10:30a, about 2hr for the 3mi effort with less than 1,000ft of gain.

Libert Hill

This one's a drive up. I spent the next hour driving back out to SR4, southwest to Dorrington, then onto Boards Crossing Rd which would take me across the North Fork Stanislaus River to the Sourgrass Recreation Area where the pavement ends. Various Forest roads then climb out of the drainage, climbing more than 3,000ft in about 10mi. The last quarter mile to the summit of Liberty Hill is on a rougher track, more suitable for OHVs than street-legal ones. The summit is flat and wide, making for a fine campsite with some trees for shade and views open to the west. Even with a low-clearance vehicle, this would be an easy, short walk to the top.

Peak 7,656ft

This is the highest summit in this part of the Stanislaus NF, with nearly 600ft of prominence, found about 2mi southeast of Liberty Bell. It is a short distance off Forest Rte 52 (also designated as 5N14), which wraps around the south side of the peak. The topo map shows various lesser Forest roads getting very close to the summit, but most of these are no longer driveable. I approached from the southeast, but one may be able to drive even closer from the northwest. I found the old roads overgrown with buckthorn, but still quite serviceable on foot, and it took less than 20min to find my way to the nondescript summit. No views, no obvious summit, no good place to leave a register that won't get torched in the next fire to sweep over the place. About 35min for the roundtrip effort.

Dome Rock

It would take another hour of driving to negotiate about 17mi to reach the Bummers Flat TH. The last 5-6mi were on spur Forest Rte 6N05. The first 1.5mi of this road to the crossing of Basin Creek were in good shape, beyond that, not so much. There are a number of camp areas along the creek and the Forest Service appears to provide good access to these. The last section of 3mi or so appear to have been cleared by users, not the Forest Service, with encroaching brush and logs cut with clearances that just allowed the Jeep through. Still, I was happy to find the road open and the Jeep capable to get me to the TH. It was 2p when I headed out on foot with plenty of daylight. The TH is marked by a simple Road Closed sign. Better trail signs were knocked down and half buried under the brush on the continuing road, now closed to traffic. The old road continues for a while, but deteriorates quickly under downfall and brush, and this is where the real adventure begins. The old trail is no longer maintained, marked periodically with ducks and flagging, but not enough to keep from losing the trail. What saved me was the GPSr with the trail marked fairly accurately, allowing me to consult it regularly to see whether to look right or left for the trail's continuation. It took me through forest, meadows, creek-crossings and areas choked with brush as it made its way northeast, southeast and east to the western edge of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Dome Rock actually sits on this western edge, so my time in the Wilderness would be very brief today. When I was northwest of the summit with about 1/3mi to go, I left the hard-to-stay-on trail and headed cross-country up the steep slope to the summit. It all made for a fun little adventure, taking me about an hour and a quarter to find my way to the open summit overlooking the Middle Fork Stanislaus River. The summit is wide open, composed of granite slabs and some large boulders forming the "dome" of the mountain. Donnell Lake lies just below to the east, but unseen as the bottom of the canyon is not visible from the summit. The summit outcrop goes at class 3 with modest exposure. I found a register in a glass jar left by Levi Cover a year earlier. I looked around for the older register left by Dingus Milktoast, but like Levi, had no luck locating it. Though I was now familiar with the route, the return went no faster as I had the same issues with losing the trail on a regular basis. For the most part, it was easier to travel along the trail sections rather than just forge ahead cross-country thanks to abundant downfall, so I did my best to stick to it. It was after 4:30p by the time I returned to the Jeep, leaving me with a few more hours of daylight to visit one more summit.

Peak 5,100ft

The longest driving segment was between these last two summits, taking an hour and a half to cover about 20mi on sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good Forest roads. It led me southwest to a part of the forest where large sections were owned and managed by the Sierra Pacific logging company. Though they don't allow camping, hunting or fires on their lands, they seem Ok to allow driving and hiking. I had seen the satellite views beforehand, showing a patchwork of clearcut areas, so it was no surprise to see such activity along the route. These areas often have newer roads than those shown on the maps, and it pays to examine the satellite views to find ones that can be helpful. Most of Peak 5,100ft and my route to it would go through Sierra Pacific lands, and I was able to get within about a quarter mile on its north side. There was some heavy logging machinery along the way that normally would have kept me out, but it was after 6p and the workers had all gone home. I parked off the side of the newer, dusty road I traveled, and went up a slope that had been logged about a decade earlier. Once I reached the upper end of the cut area, I had some heavy brush that had me crawling in places, but thankfully lasted only a short distance. I found several large rocks vying for the highpoint honors, and after surveying for the highest, went up its east side with the aid of a tree that made class 3 out of what otherwise would be a class 5 boulder problem. I took a photo from the top of the rock, then back down via the tree and flat ground. I was back to the Jeep by 6:45p and finally ready to call it a day.

I would end up driving another 45min or so back north on a meandering path until I was close to the next day's first target, Shumake Knoll. I found a flat spot to park off the road and spend the night. Mostly I was confined to the inside of the Jeep thanks to the pesky mosquitoes that are still plaguing the Sierra late into August. Seems like they will still be around this year even in September...


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This page last updated: Tue Aug 29 08:30:04 2023
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