8mi-long Peavine Ridge forms the north side of the South Fork American River
drainage in the Eldorado NF. It connects to the Crystal Range at Pyramid Peak.
US50 runs east-west in the river drainage below. We were camped atop Peavine
Ridge on the last day of 4-day trip in the forest, one of the few places still
open during the 2020 California fire emergency.
We were up before dawn for a
long-ish drive along Forest Road 34, a good gravel road running along the
ridgeline. Halfway to our destination, we found the road signed as Closed, but
ungated. We conferred for a few seconds before driving past the sign - we were
in a Jeep and could probably drive through whatever had closed. We found the
road badly rutted in places, as though a mile-long section had suffered some
sort of torrential downpour that washed away the 6" gravel roadbed in dozens of
places. No problem in the Jeep. The topo maps show roads getting close to the
summit on the north side, but we found the spur road off FR34 gated. Rather
than try to recreate the meandering route used by Marcus Sierra on PB, we
chose to hike it directly up the Southeast Face from the gravel road.
very steep, loose, brushy and littered with downfall. Tom thought it was the
worst summit of the four days, not the least because he face-planted in some
buckthorn along the way. I didn't think it was that bad, but if
pressed probably couldn't have name another summit we'd done that was less
enjoyable. It took only 20min to reach the top, nothing special with
views washed out by smoke from the various fires.
We drove back to where we'd camped to pick up Tom's Jeep before heading down
to US50. I paused to climb nearby Peavine Ridge, an LoJ summit we'd climbed
the previous evening after dinner. It's a one-minute flat hike from the gravel
road with a 6-foot boulder
serving as the highpoint. I wanted to go back to
get some daylight photos, which were only slightly more interesting than the
evening photos I'd deleted. I thought this was the weakest of the bunch.
This was the most interesting summit of the trip, much to our surprise.
Sugarloaf isn't very high, a granite outcrop low on Peavine Ridge, above the
town of Kyburz. It can be seen ever so briefly while driving west on US50.
An access trail can be found above the Silver Fork School. Parking is limited
in the residential areas, so we parked back on US50. A resident pointed
us to the end of paved Squaw Rock Trail (a residential road),
and the trail that starts at the end of the road through his neighbor's
property. There are no signs and you basically should know where you're going.
A GPSr with a coordinate was helpful, but you can see the granite formation
periodically through the trees. There is a traversing trail running
below Sugarloaf that we connected to and followed a short distance before
heading up on one of the trail threads below Sugarloaf. There
are sport climbing routes all over the formation and some of the
larger nearby rocks, too. The only scrambling route is found on the
uphill (north) side. We followed a use trail up and
around the west side, but there is another on the east side that we
used for the descent. Most of the scrambling from the uphill saddle
is class 3 with two crux sections. The first is where a dead tree has
either been strategically placed or fortuitously fallen to allow easier access
up a steep crack. The tree branch goes at class 3. Above this to the left is
the class 4 crux, a 15-foot wall that must be surmounted. A thin,
downward sloping ledge is found 4ft up the wall. The trick seems to be to
gain this ledge with poor handholds, then walk the crack to the left
where easier scrambling gets one up the rest of the wall. More
class 3 scrambling then gets you to an exciting summit with
an excellent crowsnest view of the river drainage. A two bolt rappel
chain is affixed to the summit. This one is definitely worth
a stop. We spent just over an hour on the roundtrip effort.