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It was not long before 7a when I started off on my bike from the locked gate off Mattole Rd. The signs here are confusing, with No Trespassing posted on various trees at the start, but probably only referring to that portion of the forest on the lefthand side. Other signs are encountered further up the road that suggest it is open to park visitors for the first 2.5mi. I was expecting the gradient to be tame and easily managed on the bike, but found that I was pushing the bike up more sections than I would have guessed. Part of this may be that my right leg wasn't as strong as I'd hoped but I think I'm just out of practice on the mountain bike. I was lucky that my leg had recovered enough that the pushing efforts did not seem to seriously bother it. The dirt road is kept in decent shape by the logging company, no serious obstacles in the road which can be followed for most of the route. At 2.5mi a park sign is encountered letting you know you are leaving the park if you turn left. A preponderance of signs found after this provide regular reminders that you are now trespassing in no uncertain terms. Much of the route follows along the ridge or not far below it, mostly through oak and pine forest, but with some open, grassy stretches that offer occasional views of the Kings Range on one side and the interior of the Coast Ranges on the other. At the 4.5mi mark a junction is reached where the road meets Rainbow Ridge proper. One turns north here to reach the three peaks along the ridge. After a short climb, Rainbow Ridge South is encountered first, a spur road leading to the top. It has a cell tower and utility building behind a fence at the flat summit with poor views. One can get a view of Kings Peak to the southwest by walking to the edge in that direction. Ten minutes further on, South Rainbow Peak is reached with a grassy stretch rising up from the road to get one easily to the summit. It is surrounded by trees, offering no views, but there is a piece of solar-powered equipment behind an animal fence whose purpose proved a mystery to me. I tried to continue over the summit to reconnect with the road, doable on foot, but with the bike I found the older path choked with downed trees and had to return to the southeast where I had first left the main road.
Continuing on towards Rainbow Ridge North, I came to a junction southeast of the summit and kept left. This soon ends at a locked gate for the Vevoda Ranch. Daryn Dodge reports on PB that he continued on the road past this gate a few tenths of a mile to find a grassy stretch leading to the summit. I decided to leave my bike here and hoof it up to the summit through the forest understory. This worked, but not so cleanly as it was a bit dense in places and I had to go over a decrepit barbed-wire fence. Luckily it was fairly short and took less than 15min to find my way to the summit. It was pretty disappointing, with no obvious highpoint (though my best guess agreed with Daryn that it's inside the treeline) and no register that I could find. There was a nice view looking southwest towards the King Range, but it seemed less than it should be for a P2K summit. It was almost 9a by this time, still early in the day. I returned back to the road via a grassier descent to the south, climbed back on the bike and headed back.
I returned to the sign at the park boundary near Big Hill and headed off on the right fork towards the last two summits. This led to a nearly identical sign on the south side of Big Hill - to the left takes one to Big Hill, to the right is Thomas Hill. I visited Big Hill first, leaving the bike alongside the road on the southwest side of the summit and climbing a steep but short grass slope up to the top. There is a hazy view of Grasshopper Mtn (the highpoint of the state park) to the east, and an unimpressive view of Rainbow Ridge to the south. Back to the bike once again, I returned to the park sign, took the right fork, and in 4/5mi came to a saddle on the southwest side of Thomas Hill. The road here turns sharply to the south as it begins a descent. I parked the bike and climbed up forest and grass slopes to the top of Thomas Hill. I found this the most interesting summit of the morning, with some rather large, old oaks growing in the quiet forest understory that allowed for surprisingly easy travel, though steep. There were zero views to be had from the summit but that was fine - the forest was the interesting thing here, and one could almost picture an elf or gnome peering from behind one of the mossy trees. No such fairy creatures emerged, but I did find a State Property sign tacked to a tree - seems both Big Hill and Thomas Hill are right on the park boundary. I returned back to the bike for one last time and rode it the remaining 3.5mi back to the start. I didn't see a soul for the whole 4.5hrs that I was out.
I would spend the next 4.5hrs driving home, getting me back almost exactly 24hrs after leaving. It was a short roadtrip, but the knee held up respectfully, though still far from its old self. I suspect more short trips will be on the agenda for the foreseeable future until the knee becomes more dependable...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Rainbow Ridge South - Rainbow Ridge North
This page last updated: Mon May 6 15:48:59 2019
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