Peak 7,895ft P500
Peak 7,797ft P300
Mace BM P500 PD
Peak 6,406ft P500 PD
Peak 6,020ft P300 PD

Sun, Apr 11, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


I was camped in the Piute Mountains of the Southern Sierra along Forest Road 29S03. It was an obscure out-of-the-way location, very quiet under the forest canopy, roughly between the first two peaks I planned to visit today. The bulk of the day was a 9.5mi out and back hike along the PCT to visit the last two summits. Afterwards, I drove to Death Valley where I was to meet Tom Becht in the evening.

Peak 7,895ft

A Forest road gets to within a quarter mile of the summit on the east side, but a large tree across the road blocked access about 3/4mi from the summit, right at the start of the spur road. It is doubtful it will ever be cleared. I walked the road and easy cross-country to the summit in about 20min, arriving shortly after sunrise. The easy class 3 granite summit block offer decent views. Left a register before returning.

Peak 7,797ft

This summit is about a mile SE of the first. I drove the Jeep to the saddle on the west side of the summit, leaving less than a quarter mile to the top. The cross-country hike to the summit is easy, taking just over 10min. Class 2 boulders make a convenient highpoint to leave a register. No views from inside the forest canopy.

Mace BM

Another 2mi to the southeast is Mace BM. One could climb it from Mace Meadow to the north, less than half a mile with 800ft of gain. The easier way uses a spur road from the northwest. I stopped at an open gate, thinking it was private property, but found that it goes about a quarter mile to a clearing where an old mineshaft is found. After walking this portion of old road, I went steeply up cross-country to the summit ridge and then onto Mace BM, taking about 30min. There were some large ducks found along the way, not useful in the least. I found the benchmark and a set of nested red cans. The original register (perhaps left by Richard Carey who favors such cans) was missing, just a single sheet from a 2020 party. On the way back I skipped the return to the mineshaft and simply followed the ridge northwest back to the Jeep, which seemed a little easier.

Peak 6,406ft - Peak 6,020ft

These two summits are located along the Sierra Crest, the southernmost summits in the Piute Mtns. I drove back down to Jawbone Canyon Rd and then south to where it makes a sharp turn to begin the steep descent down Cottonwood Creek. The small parking area described in the HPS guide was occupied by some OHV car campers, so I parked just outside the gate marking the edge of the National Forest. The signs on the gate highly discourage trespassing, so I headed northwest over a small rise to connect with the PCT that I knew I would find just below the rise on the other side. I followed this down for several miles through the private property, following the easement along the road (where one can find the PCT 600mi marker) before the PCT veers off onto a trail again and through BLM lands. The PCT is poorly depicted on the topo map along this entire stretch and is not to be trusted - it shows the route going directly over Peak 6,020ft, for example, which it decidedly does not do, and never has. After about 2.5mi, I left the trail to head uphill cross-country for Peak 6,406ft. I had tried to reach this summit 13 years earlier when I was visiting the nearby HPS Weldon Peak. At the time, it seemed an easy bonus to tag the higher summit to the south, but got confused when we found there were three higher summits and gave up the venture before visiting the last (and highest) of these furthest south. Armed with a GPSr these days, it is unlikely I would have the same problem. At the summit I found two granite blocks vying for highpoint honors. I climbed the west block first, then the east block, then decided the west was probably higher and returned to leave a register there. Nice views from the summit. I descended off the grassy south side, then had to weave through forest/brush to find the PCT again. I had about another mile to the second summit, Peak 6,020ft. I met two backpackers going the opposite direction, exchanging but a few words. The trail moves to the east side of the crest, passing just below Hamp Williams Pass. At this point I left the trail for the quarter mile of cross-country up to Peak 6,020ft. There is much downfall and moderate brush, but all bushwhacking and downfall can be avoided with careful route-finding. I generally went up the North Ridge, looking for signs of an old trail the map told me I should find (this is where I determined the trail had never gone where depicted). The highpoint is found atop an easy class 3 granite block. Decent views. Left another register before returning to the PCT. On my way back, I came across the two backpackers taking a break along the trail. I stopped for a chat, finding they were two of the lead group of what would eventually become a small horde of PCTers passing through this way. The two planned to go as far as Kennedy Meadows before taking a break. I returned to the Jeep at Jawbone Canyon Rd (this time I simply hiked the non-easement portion of the spur road, a bit of a shortcut) before 2p, ready to call it a day and do some more driving.

I spent the next five hours driving back out of the range along Jawbone Canyon Rd (endless dirt road miles, it seems) to SR14, then onto Ridgecrest for supplies and dinner, then to Death Valley. It was a warm afternoon in the lower elevations, reaching 91F as I drive through Panamint Valley. I met Tom at the junction of paved Emigrant Canyon Rd and the rough, dirt/rock/sand Lucky Wash Rd. We drove the latter (described in the DPS guide for Tucki Mtn as Route "B") in our jeeps for the last hour, enjoying the drive in the late afternoon. It was 70F outside when we reached our campsite at the end of the road at 5,400ft. We had a happy hour and dinner with the setting sun, eventually driven into our respective vehicles by tiny biting flies that we had never experienced in Death Valley before. They mostly had seemed to flit about our face in an annoying fashion, but they must have been biting because they would begin itching before I had gone to sleep that night...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Wed Feb 2 17:17:50 2022
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: