Salt Creek Mountain P2K
Minnesota Mountain P1K
Bluejay Mountain
Buck Mountain
Hogback Mountain P1K
Round Mountain P1K
Hatchet Mountain P1K

May 11, 2018
Buck Mountain
Round Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 5 6 Profiles: 1 2


I was camped in the back of the Jeep in the heart of the Shasta Trinity National Forest. The peaks in this part of the forest, northeast of Lake Shasta, are rugged and contain more than a dozen P1Ks. They aren't particularly high, all less than 5,000ft, which means no snow in mid-May, but they are also loaded with poison oak which had me failing at almost half of the P1Ks I attempted. Today started off with two nice successes, then four failures, then finishing off with three successes, overall not a bad day...

Salt Creek Mountain

As a P2K, there have been a number of TRs written about this one, so I didn't have much concern about whether it would work out. This and Hogback Mtn were the two "gimmies" I had planned for the day, one at the beginning, one at the end. As reported by others, the access road from the north is no longer maintained, and with downfall across the road, I was able to drive no further than others had managed in the past few years. I hiked 1.3mi of the remaining road, easily done on foot, until I was below the start of the NE/N Ridge used by others and reported to not be too brushy. Though steep, the route is indeed mostly clear underfoot of poison oak and there was very little brush to be pushed aside. There are some remnants of old logging roads that can be used, but these were often choked with young trees and not much better than the roadless options on either side. The ridge goes up about 800ft in a mile, bringing one to the summit area where there are three equal contours shown on the map. In visiting all three, I found the middle one to be the lowest, the western one to be about 10ft higher, the eastern one (marked on the map and identified on LoJ and PB as the summit) 10ft higher still. There is a minor view to the south of Minnesota and Town Mtns, most of the other directions blocked by trees. I was surprised to find no register on this one, so I left one of my own before heading back down the same route. Others have reported brushier conditions in trying to shortcut the route back to the road so I chose to follow the same line I had ascended. The whole outing took just over 2hrs, getting me back to the Jeep by 8:15a.

Minnesota Mountain

Though only two miles south of Salt Creek Mtn, it took me an hour and a half of driving to get from one starting point to the next. I drove up to Dekkas Creek Saddle between the two summits, then further south until I could drive no further, about 0.4mi due east of the summit. There is more brush on this one than the first summit and it is necessary to choose one's route carefully. I followed the overgrown continuation of the road to the ESE Ridge and went up from there, finding convenient breaks through the forest and brush to minimize the bushwhacking effort. I was very happy to find the summit area open and easy to navigate over rocky terrain, bringing me to the highpoint at the western edge of the summit ridge, overlooking Salt Creek Mtn to the north and Town Mtn to the southwest. Finding no register again, I left another on this summit before returning via the same route. The outing took only an hour, finishing before 11a. With two success in row, I was feeling pretty good.

Town Mountain

Fail - This was a navigational failure. I didn't notice the turnoff on my way down from Dekkas Creek Saddle and by the time I got down to the lower junction and figured it out, I didn't want to drive back up the road - I wasn't sure my gas was going to last as it was. It appears one can drive fairly close on the northeast side. I'll have to go back again some day to try this. There's another P1K southeast of Town (Horse Mtn), but it appears to be one of the more difficult undertakings in the area with way more driving and no close approach.

Winnibulli Mountain

Fail - This one looked too tough - almost 1,000ft up the NW Ridge for 0.6mi over what looked like poison oak-covered slopes. The place needs a good fire to clear it out. I couldn't even start up the mountain without stepping over the PO. I barely went 30ft from the Jeep before giving up.

Devils Rock

Fail - This was one of the more interesting P1Ks I was hoping would be successful. Forest Service maps show a trail going south from Low Pass Creek, just past the summit and then south to Gray Rocks. Other maps don't show it. If it exists, it's one helluva steep trail. The maps also show a dirt spur road going along Low Pass Creek, but this is no longer driveable. I followed this old road on foot for about a mile, the first half easily navigated, but then it becomes increasingly overgrown where it crosses Low Pass Creek to the south side. Once across the creek it gets better as a use trail, but try as I might, I found no sign of a trail forking off towards Devils Rock. I don't know if this trail is long overgrown or just a figment of someone's imagination. Cross-country travel here is through terrain heavily populated with poison oak. I went back.

Brock Butte

Fail - A heartbreaker. Road 27 goes over a saddle 2.5mi north of Brock Butte, another P1K. Maps show a spur road going south along the connecting ridgeline towards Brock Butte for about half the distance, then a trail continuing along the ridge, going over Brock Butte and south to Low Pass Creek. I found the road no longer maintained, but easy to walk, and I started off with high hopes. I reached the end of the old road at a saddle and was happy to find an overgrown trail continuing along the ridge with a mile to go. Unfortunately, the trail became more overgrown and the poison oak more frequent. I used a stick to push the stuff out of my way as I worked my way along the trail, getting more and more bogged down. Then the trail seemed to stop, or at least to have hit a wall I couldn't easily push through. I looked at the distance and found I still had 4/5mi to go. I gave up.

Bluejay Mtn/Buck Mtn/Hogback Mtn

Hogback one was a gimme as I knew others had driven to the top and expected to be able to do likewise. There are two named summits along the long drive to Hogback Mtn, neither with much prominence. I stopped on the northwest side of Bluejay Mtn and hiked up the steep slopes a short distance to the summit. There was much poison oak initially by the road, but once under heavy forest cover the understory diminished considerably. The last 100yds to the summit was again festooned with poison oak as I hopped from rock to rock and tip-toed through the stuff to find the summit with no views and more PO. Buck Mtn turned out to be even shorter and almost no poison oak at all. It, too, was without views, but at least it was easy. Hogback Mtn, on the other hand, had wide open views, especially from the tower that stands at the highpoint to the north. Too bad the gate was locked and one could only climb the first set of stairs. There are microwave relays at the south end and decent cell coverage from the summit.

It was 5p by this time and I figured I was done for the day, so I showered atop Hogback Mtn. Little did I realize my luck had not yet run out.

Round Mountain

I didn't expect to get far on this P1K as it lies outside the forest boundary close to SR299 and entirely on private property. There are roads going up to the telecom towers at the summit originating from the now paved Road 27 a few miles before its junction with SR299. I found a locked gate just off Road 27, but upon inspection, found one of the chained locks to be unlatched. Score. I undid the gate, drove in, and carefully put the locks back like I'd found them. There were no signs on the gate indicating Private Property or No Trespassing, so I figured I had plausible deniability if found out. I took the first left past the gate onto a lesser road. This leads to a couple of homesteads with another fork just before encountering their Private Property signs. This other fork is little used, overgrown and rough, but the Jeep was up for the challenge. After 2/3mi it connected with a better road going to the summit (the better route, btw, continues past where I first turned left and then comes up from the west side of the mountain to this junction I joined). The last part of the road is terribly steep, but again, no problem for the Jeep in 4H. Upon reaching the facilities at the summit, I was greeted by -- wait for it -- a goat. Only about 2ft high, this diminuitive goat looked as surprised to see me as I it, but it didn't move, even as I walked towards it to take a better picture. What it was doing there is anybody's guess. I snapped a few photos before starting down, the goat then trailing behind me at a distance. Back in the Jeep, I played around with the hill descent feature of the Jeep in 4L, then made my way back out the way I came, again leaving the locks and gate as I'd found them.

Hatchet Mountain

I still had some daylight left and after perusing the peakbagger app, I hit upon Hatchet Mountain, a P1K drive-up about 10mi up SR299. I checked my gas and figured I had enough to get up and down from Hatchet and then get gas in Burney. Andrew Kirmse had left a report on this one from his visit the previous year. There are some rather large windmills along the very long, rounded SE Ridge. A good service road goes to the summit with spurs to the various installations. As reported by Andrew, public access is pushed off the good road after the first mile, onto a poorer, older road that goes to the summit in about four miles. The road was in fair shape, mostly dry and easily negotiated with high-clearance. A mile before the summit, the road converges with the better service road, but there is a locked gate half a mile from the summit, large rocks placed on either side to keep out off-road access. Someone had conveniently moved the smallest of these boulders on the right side, making an opening just wide enough for the Jeep, allowing me to drive the rest of the way to the summit. By now it was 7:45p, getting chilly and close to sunset. I walked around the flattish summit area looking for the highest rock, took a few pictures and beat a retreat. To the southeast rises Burney Mtn, a P2K, and with little snow showing on it, I figured I might be able to pay it a visit the next day. After driving back out to the older road, I found a quiet spot along it to spend the night. It was already growing dark and there didn't seem much point in driving back out to the highway tonight. It was a fairly windy location (good place for windmills, eh?), rocking the Jeep gently for much of the night...


comments on 05/17/18:
For the PO laden peaks, there are chemical suits that you can get to wear on the hike, then simply dispose of. I never had any big problem with PO hikes, with so many of them in the lower Northern Sierra. I stuck to the trails, and could recognize the plant, but even with some slight contact, they never seemed to affect me much. One hiker just pulled them up with his bare hands, to accomodate some girlfriend, and also didn't seem to report anything of any rash or what. In the fall or winter, they seem to lose their leaves, the most toxic parts, and with cross country doing gorges, we could almost always find a way through.
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