Pilot Ridge P300
Trumbull Peak P500
Trumbull Lookout

May 17, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

Another week, another roadtrip, this time returning to the Stanislaus NF on the south side of SR120. I waited out rush hour traffic, not leaving San Jose until almost 10a. Consequently, I didn't get started with the first hike until after 1p. Temperatures this week were almost 10 degrees cooler than the previous one, so I expected it to be more comfortable. Once again, I was visiting peaks between 4,000ft and 6,000ft.

Pilot Ridge

The highpoint of Pilot Ridge is found atop Pilot Peak, a summit I had visited in 2018. This is the second-highest point on the ridge with 440ft of prominence, so worthy of a visit. There are forest roads going nearly to the summit, but I found the road choked with downfall 3mi from the top and had to walk the road on foot. It seems to be at least a decade since the road was driveable, judging by the size of the manzanita bushes that are taking over. It appears that hunters have maintained a modest use trail through it all, though there's a great deal of high-stepping, ducking and avoiding the plentiful downfall. There are some views from the road looking north to the Tuolumne River drainage, and once on the ridgeline, some views looking south to the Merced River drainage. Mostly though, views are limited due to forest cover. It took me an hour and three quarters to reach the summit. The ridge here is quite craggy and offers good views looking south (though somewhat hazy today). Pilot Peak is about 1.4mi to the southeast and it occurred to me that it might be an easier approach from there. It was hard to discern the terrain along the ridge between the two, so don't hold me to that. Probably more scenic than the route I used, though. I returned the same way, getting back just after 4:30p.

Trumbull Peak - Trumbull Lookout

Much driving ensued. I first tried to continuing driving on the good forest road I'd come in on, but it started getting problematic after a few miles, finding myself stopping to clear downfall or cut branches. Eventually I decided it wasn't getting better and returned to SR120. This was fortunate, because I found the Rush Creek/Crocker Meadow Rd (FR2S30) was paved for nearly 9mi to the Tuolumne/Mariposa County boundary at a saddle on the divide between the two river drainages. I had another 12mi to go from there, with deteriorating road conditions. The dirt road was decent to start, but it was soon evident that it had not been cleared by the Forest Service, but by the public users of the road. The cuts look to have been made for a Razor or similar vehicle, leaving lots of brush to plow through in the Jeep and some very tight squeezes between cut logs in places. I had to use my handsaw to cut back some larger branches, and the tow strap to move some logs to widen the opening so I could fit through. I didn't reach the end of the road between Trumbull Peak and the lookout until after 7p, leaving me about 45min of daylight. Luckily the two points I wanted to visit were only about a quarter mile in each direction. I visited the peak first, finding the highpoint buried in some manzanita. Some views could be had, west towards Little Grizzly Mtn, south to the lookout, east to Yosemite Valley with a decent view of Half Dome and El Cap. After returning to the Jeep, I used the good trail to visit the lookout which has superb views overlooking SR140 and the Merced River looking east and south. The first set of steps on the lookout had been removed and the railings seemed a bit unstable, so I left it unclimbed. The lookout residence is in disrepair but featured some really great views from the various windows. This must have been a choice location for lookout personnel. I returned to the Jeep and showered just before sunset. It was a fine spot to camp for the night, with the lights of the Central Valley visible as well as some in Yosemite. Cell service, too...


Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Wed May 26 08:49:34 2021
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com