Red Cinder P1K PD
Red Cinder Cone P300
Mt. Harkness P1K
Pegleg Mountain P1K PD
Roop Mountain P1K
Coyote Peak P1K PD
Hamilton Mountain P300 PD

Fri, Oct 26, 2018
Mt. Harkness
Pegleg Mountain
Coyote Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Profiles: 1 2 3


Day 2 of a three-day visit to the Lassen National Forest had me tracking down P1Ks in and around the forest and adjacent park. Though I was going from before sunrise til after sunset, there was lots of driving in-between which made for not so hard a day as it might seem. The first outing was the longest and took up most of the morning. After that, the jeep took over most of the duties.

Red Cinder / Red Cinder Cone

I was up early, around 5:30a from my campsite in Warner Valley, then drove back out towards Chester before turning north to drive into Lassen NP and Juniper Lake. The popular campground here was closed for the season, leaving the place eerily empty on a Friday morning. Mine would be the only car I'd see in the park all day. My goal this morning was Red Cinder, a P1K and Wilderness HP located just outside the park though all of the trail I traveled was on the inside. The Horseshoe Lake/Snag Lake TH originates at the north end of Juniper Lake, heading uphill to the north before dropping into the Grassy Creek drainage. A trail junction is reached after a mile and a quarter. The left fork continues north to Horseshoe and Snag Lakes, whereas I turned right and headed east. The trail continues through forest with few views, but it is quite easy to follow, only gradually gaining elevation. This sometimes swampy, mosquito-ridden area was mostly brown and dry this time of year, nary a bug to be seen. I passed by calm Jakey Lake as the trail makes a few bends before turning northeast towards the saddle beteen Red Cinder and Red Cinder Cone. It was 8:45a by the time I neared the saddle where the trail comes closest to the eastern border of the park. I turned right to head cross-country up steep slopes, gaining about 700ft in 1/3mi. I had expected to find talus and rock slopes commensurate with the name "Red Cinder", but found the slope covered mostly in pine needles. It has been eons since eruptions in this part of the park, giving the forest time to recover and regain the landscape. The park boundary goes across this slope in the lower reaches, marked occasionally on the trees. To the east is the Caribou Wilderness whose highpoint is found atop Red Cinder. The footing was decent, making for a quick ascent, and by 9:10a I had reached the rocky, open summit. There are good views in all directions - Mt. Lassen to the west, Prospect Peak (another P1K I had climbed a few months earlier) to the north, Lake Almanor to the south. Richard Carey had left a register in 2017 with a surprising number of entries in such a short time.

Immediately west of Red Cinder lies the lower, two-headed feature of Red Cinder Cone, an easy bonus with no real significance of its own. After dropping back down to the saddle, I headed up easy slopes to the south summit, found a small cairn tucked some bushes, then paid a visit to the north summit since they seemed to be almost the same height. In fact, my GPSr registered the same elevation on both, so I'm guessing they're pretty darn close. After returning back to the trail and the saddle a second time, I retraced my way back along the trail system and to the jeep at Juniper Lake by 11:35a, a 4.5hr outing.

Mt. Harkness

Directly across Juniper Lake to the south rises Mt. Harkness, a blandish-looking P1K with a lookout tower. A good trail reaches to the summit from Juniper Lake in less than two miles. The trailhead is at the Juniper Lake Campground on the east side of the lake, a five minute drive from where I was parked. I found the CG gated, camping options closed for the season. I parked outside the gate, wandering through the campground until I found the start of the trail. The first mile travels through forest before beginning to break out onto grassy slopes in the upper half of the mountain. A trail junction is passed with 1/3mi remaining, and after climbing up through a few switchbacks, the summit tower comes into view. The lookout is more interesting than most - made of stone and wood, it has a rustic log stairway and log railings. Though closed, one can walk around the observation walkway to take in the views in all directions. This one is a pretty tame outing, taking about an hour and a quarter, all told.

Pegleg Mountain

Located 17mi east of Harkness, Pegleg is similarly lookout-topped, though it has a road leading to it. I had to first drive back down to SR36, then east to the town of Westwood before turning north on paved Mooney Rd (County Rd A21). A good dirt road forks right after a few miles, called McCoy Rd. This road goes around the west and north side of Pegleg, but a signed spur road on the west side winds its way to the summit in about six miles. A locked gate was encountered about 3/4mi from the summit so I had to park and walk the remaining distance. I found the lookout unmanned, a more drab building compared to the one on Harkness. From the lookout I could see my next summit, Roop Mtn, 8mi to the northeast. It was a patchwork of logging activity that shows up quite markedly.

Roop Mountain

Most of Roop Mtn appears to be owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the largest logging concerns in the state. The public is allowed access to the roads on the mountain, though camping and a few other activities are prohibited. Others have commented that the roads are confusing in the area, not unusual in heavily logged areas where roads come and go with surprising ease. I had the GPX track of the driving route from Dean Gaudet's visit earlier in July which I followed without mishap. The roads are suitable only for high-clearance due to the high berms encountered. As Dean comments, the summit is crappy and mostly a disappointment, despite its P1K status. One can drive to the very top which is flat, modestly brushy and poorly endowed with views. I walked around the area some, finding what looks like the foundation for an old tower, but found no register or cairn to mark the highpoint. I then decided to visit the slightly lower north summit about 2/3mi away. That one has a benchmark and a rocky top with at least some views. Overall though, Roop is a forgettable summit.

Coyote Peak

The last two summits are located in the northernmost part of the Sierra Nevada (debateable, but let's say the Susan and Feather Rivers define the north boundary). An excellent dirt road forks south from SR36 just west of Fredonyer Pass, providing access to this part of the range. I had intended to hike to Coyote Peak from the saddle to the north with Hamilton Mtn, but that was going to be almost 2mi each way when I got there at 5p. I decided to continue on the good road as it passes to the west and south, well below the summit. I picked a spot off the road to the west that was about 0.8mi from the summit and started from there. I grabbed my headlamp and tossed it in my pocket, forgoing the backback for this one. I was afraid I might run into some brushy obstacles and thought I could be returning in the dark. I was happy to find the slopes mostly clear though steep, and I was able to reach the open summit in less than half an hour. Vitz had left a register here in 2011. There had been only a few other entries since then. As it was nearing 6p, the sun was low on the horizon and the lighting was really quite wonderful as I enjoyed the return hike down grassy slopes and forest, a quick jaunt taking only 15min.

Hamilton Mountain

Though the sun was setting, I figured I should have time for this quick bonus peak located only 2mi NW of Coyote Peak. I drove back to the saddle between the two summits and then on some old roads that got me to within 1/8mi of the summit on its south side. It took only a few minutes to make my way up the class 2-3 rocky summit where I enjoyed some fine twilight views after the sun had already set. There were remnants of a survey tower and a benchmark from 1947. After returning to the jeep, I took a quick shower with the lukewarm water before it, or the outside temperature, got any colder. As I was driving back down the forest road towards SR36, I was surprised to find half a dozen cattle on the road. I herded them down the road for probably a quarter mile before they thought to move to one side and let me pass. I ended up camping off the road before I got to the highway, a quiet spot that would let me sleep undisturbed for the night. It was after 7p before I had pulled over, but I had a few hours still to make dinner and enjoy a beer before hitting the sack. A good day...


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