Peak 8,218ft P300
Peak 7,068ft P300
Peak 6,580ft

Sat, Jul 23, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


I'd spent the night camped at Red Lake on the east side of Carson Pass, off SR88. I had used this same site a month earlier with Jackie, finding it a fine, high-altitude spot to avoid the summer heat in the valleys below. And like that first time, there wasn't another soul around. I was up early to drive west over Carson Pass and down to the Bear River Reservoir for a handful of easy summits before driving home. I had tried to access this area a few years earlier, but found the road over the dam closed due to maintenance on the dam itself. Today I would have no such issues. There is a whole network of Forest roads in the area that were fun to explore. They are very popular with quite a few campgrounds and tons of folks camping all over the place back there.

Peak 8,218ft

This was the highest of the three peaks, and the highest around the Bear River drainage south of Squaw Ridge. It's a long drive from the highway, but most of it is paved. Still, the roads are narrow and one needs to drive at modest speeds. The last three miles are dirt roads that get worse past Upper Onion Valley, 4WD recommended. FR8N033 goes nearly to the summit, bypassing it on the northwest side. The road continues off the northeast ridge, and continues for many miles along Squaw Ridge in that direction. I simply parked to the side of the road and made the two minute hike up easy slopes to the rounded summit. There are only partial views due to trees and the flatness at the top, but there is a nice view of Mokelumne Peak to the southeast across the Cole Creek drainage. This was easily the shortest and easiest hike of the day.

Peak 7,068ft

I spent about 50min driving from the previous peak to the Tanglefoot TH for Peak 7,068ft. The peak lies just within the western boundary of the Mokelumne Wilderness and is one of two peaks I had yet to visit in the Wilderness. The Tanglefoot TH can be reached by most vehicles on a well-graded Forest road. Only the last quarter mile of road is a bit rough. The Tanglefoot Trail climbs up a modest grade before forking, one branch going to Shriner Lake, the other down into Tanglefoot Canyon. I would follow neither of these forks since my peak comes before the junction. The peak is less than a mile from the TH, and after following the trail for about half a mile, I realized it was no longer following the route shown on the topo and was moving away from the summit. I backtracked a short distance and then headed cross-country where I found forest understory I could more easily move through. There is much brush on the slopes and one must choose a route wisely to avoid bushwhacking. The understory isn't so great either, with much downfall and debris to climb over, but better than the heavy sections of manzanita and buckthorn. I managed to get within a few hundred yards of the summit through forest before having to deal with the brush that covers most of the summit area. With careful route-finding, I found a bear path through the heaviest parts of the brush to make things much easier. Once in the summit vicinity, the brush is thinner but bushwhacking cannot be completely avoided. I identified two boulders of near-equal height serving at the highest points, separated by about 50yds. I visited first, finding it the hardest at stiff class 3. A lower boulder on the west side can be used to assist for the short scramble up the higher block. The southwest boulder is much easier, accessible from its north side. There was a duck on this second boulder, but no register at either point. Views are muted due to surrounding trees. After satisfying my OCD claim to the summit, I made my way back to the trail via much the same route, then back to the Jeep at the TH. About an hour and 20 minutes for the effort.

Peak 6,580ft

This last summit is found above the south side of Lower Bear River Reservoir. It took me 25min of driving to get between trailheads. Paved Forest Rd 8 goes over a saddle on the east side of the peak. A spur dirt road gets one slightly closer, but someone was camping on it, so I simply walked the half mile distance from the pavement at the saddle. A use/cow trail can be picked up that will take you nearly to the summit, through forest and meadow on an easy gradient. It took only eleven minutes to reach the summit, a granite slab area with open views looking west and north. The west side of the peak drops steeply down to the Bear River gorge. A short walk off the summit in that direction gets one better views. The reservoir is just out of view to the north, though the adjacent quarry (used to build the dam) can be seen to the northwest. Back to the Jeep by 9:45a, I was done with the day's agenda. I took a jug shower and changed into some fresh clothes before heading for home...

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