Chimney Rock CC
Peak 5,728ft P300
Sawtooth Mountain P500 CC
Peak 5,080ft
Peak 5,173ft P300
Peak 4,519ft P300
Lonesome Ridge P300
South Lonesome Ridge P300
Trail Mountain P300
Prospect Hill P300
Black Mountain P900
Peak 2,913ft P500
Hopkins Butte P1K
Shelton Butte P500

Thu, Jun 6, 2019
Chimney Rock
Sawtooth Mountain
Black Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profile
Prospect Hill later climbed Mon, Oct 28, 2019


Today was a potpourri of peakbagging efforts, including some nice trail hiking, some bushwhacking, some drive-ups and a whole lot of exploring of forest roads in the Six Rivers NF of CA's North Coast. All-in-all a much more pleasant day than the previous one that was overly weighted to bushwhacking. The objectives focused on a pair of CC-listed summits and a trio of prominence peaks, with a healthy sprinkling of bonus peaks that were enroute between the main peaks. The weather continued to be very pleasant with highs in the low 60s, quite comfortable for hiking.

Chimney Rock/Peak 5,728ft/Sawtooth Mtn

This was a very enjoyable loop hike in the Siskiyou Wilderness covering a bit under 8mi, most of it on trail, though hard to follow in places. There is no trailhead kiosk or sign where the road meets the Wilderness boundary, one sort of has to know where to look to find the two trails that enter the Wilderness here. One trail is actually the old section of the Gasquet-Orleans Road that was closed to vehicles and absorbed into the Wilderness when it was created. I used the G-O Rd, mostly paved, from Orleans to reach the starting point. At the start, I headed off on the closed road to the southwest as it gradually climbs to reach the crest marking the boundary between Del Norte and Siskiyou Counties as well as the Smith and Klamath River drainages. All three summit lie on the crest as well. I left the road at the crest to follow a faint trail north along the ridge. It doesn't seem to get much traffic and becomes to hard to follow in places where the forest was burned badly in the 2015 Gasquet Complex Fire. I had only to follow it a short distance before leaving it to make my way cross-country through moderate chaparral to reach my first stop, Chimney Rock. It turned out to be easier than it looked, no more than class 2 from the north, though there are certainly more challenging ways to reach it if one chooses. High clouds left views somewhat muted though the summit was open. One can see the Pacific Ocean from all three peaks, with some fog creeping up the lower valleys in that direction. I left a register here before heading off to the next summit.

The hike to Peak 5,728ft is a short one from Chimney Rock, as it's really just the higher end of a short stretch of summit ridgeline about 1/5mi in length. The views aren't appreciably different though the higher unnamed summits lacks the rocky features of Chimney Rock. I continued northwest from this point along the ridge, finding some snow (but not really any sort of obstacle) as I went off in search of the faint trail I had left earlier. With the help of the GPSr to show me where to expect it, I was able to find it and keep to it for the most part. I did lose it in several places where it was hard to discern in the heavily burned areas, but I kept to the general course as it follows lower on the west side of the crest. At a saddle with Buck Camp Ridge, my GPSr batteries unexpectedly failed, though it shouldn't have been all that unexpected. I've been using the same rechargeable batteries from Garmin for more than five years now and with nearly a thousand recharges, they have slowly been coming to the end of their useful life and don't work so well in colder temps. I've learned that if I tuck the receiver in my pants, it will stay warmer and extend the number of hours I can get with them. As backup, I carry a couple of spare batteries, but when I went to dig these out of my pack's zippered waist pouch, I found that one of them had gone missing. Hmmm. Seems I might have to finish this one without the benefit of the GPSr. This turned out to not be a real problem since I had the general lay of the land. Fog that was coming in as I was ascending Sawtooth Mtn had me a bit worried about finding myself in a whiteout, but the fog only threatened and eventually began burning off later in the hike.

There is a trail junction along the crest near a small, unnamed lake. This was the other trail that I would use to return to the start. I continued on the trail heading north along the crest until it began a descent on the east side about a quarter mile south of Sawtooth Mtn. The climb to Sawtooth's summit from the trail is a decent scramble, one of the few such opportunities one gets in the North Coast region, more reminiscent of Sierra scrambling. Upon reaching the summit I immediately noticed there was a point that appeared higher about a quarter mile further north along the crest. I found several reference marks at the southern point, but couldn't located the benchmark which I suspect to have gone missing. I went over to investigate the northern point, taking less that 15min to scramble between the two. A combination of differential GPSr readings (warming the receiver had brought it back to life) and a hand level suggest the northern point is higher by about 6-8ft. I left a register at the northern point before retracing my steps back to the trail. A good deal of fog wafting up from the canyons below during this time muted what would otherwise be pretty good views.

Upon returning to the trail junction at the outlet of the small lake, I turned left and followed this alternate trail, now a shortcut to return to where I'd parked. This trail sees much more traffic and is far better defined, but there were still places where I managed to lose it in the burned sections of forest. The trail is more pictureque than the outbound one, going by several additional lakes and crossing a couple of streams and fens that were quite green and lush. I found the trail very easy to follow where it began to descend to Elk Valley where I'd parked, eventually getting me back to the jeep just after 11:30a. A very pleasant way to spend five hours, this one.

Peak 5,080ft/Peak 5,173ft

These two bonus peaks are located at the end of the paved portion of G-O Rd, just outside the eastern boundary of the Siskiyou Wilderness. They are both short hikes from the pavement, only modest brush encountered and fairly open summits. I spent about an hour all told visiting the two points before starting back down the road where I found other distractions on my way to Black Mtn, a P900 and my next main objective on the drive back to SR96.

Peak 4,159ft/Lonesome Ridge/South Lonesome Ridge

These next three peaks were all located a short distance off Forest Road 13, not far from its junction with G-O Rd. Peak 4,159ft has an old road going over its summit from the northwest. Though no longer driveable, it makes for easy hiking and it took all of 12min to reach the not-so-interesting summit which is just the highpoint of the road going over it. Lonesome Ridge is about a mile to the northwest. A decent road goes very close to the summit, but it was blocked by downfall near FR 13. Still, it took only ten minutes to walk up to the highpoint. A grouse flew down from a tree to give me his mating display, perhaps confusing me for an eligible mate. He danced around for nearly a minute before finally realizing he was getting nowhere and flew off. South Lonesome Ridge proved a near drive-up, requiring me only to walk about 150ft to find the highpoint above where I'd parked.

Trail Mountain

This summit is located close to the Cedar Camp Rd/G-O Rd junction. A short, easy bushwhack up from the NE side leads to a summit buried in forest cover. There was an empty pair of nested orange cans found at the highpoint, just as I'd found on nearby Vans BM the day before. I suspect these were once part of a Bighorn Bill register collection, perhaps pilfered by rodents for their nest-building paper contents. Without much prominence, I didn't think it worthy of leaving a register and returned to the jeep, taking 8min for the roundtrip effort.

Prospect Hill

This was another easy bonus further down G-O Rd. An old road makes for a short, easy hike to the summit where an old telecom installation lies abandoned. The highest point is atop a rock nearby which offers a slightly better, but still unimpressive view.

Black Mountain

This P900 lies less than 2mi from SR96 and the Klamath River. There is no road leading to the summit, though one can drive around it to get within a quarter mile. Because of the low elevation, I was expecting this might be a nasty bit of bushwhacking. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not far from my starting point on the northeast side of the mountain, I came across a well-groomed trail that had been cut up the steep slopes. It allowed an ascent to the top to be made in less than 15min. The trail is not well-marked where it joins the driveable road below, and it's purpose was a bit hard to determine. It may have been someone's pet project and since abandoned, but that was just a hasty guess. The summit was buried in trees and offered no views, to no real surprise.

Peak 2,913ft

After returning to SR96, I went over the bridge in Orleans to begin exploring parts of the forest on the other side of the Klamath River. Following Dennis Poulin's PB directions for Hopkins Butte, I made a first stop not far from the river to take a crack at Savorum Mtn, a P1K. Starting up from a saddle on the SE side of the mountain, I found the road shown on the topo map too overgrown and choked with brush to make much use of. The forest understory on the SE Ridge started off quite promising and I made good progress, climbing up more than 400ft, almost half the elevation gain but not quite 1/3 the distance to the summit. Then things went sour in a hurry with thick, dusty tangles of brush that had me discouraged quickly. I just didn't have the strength nor motivation to press on, so I turned around and gave up. I'll have to do this brutish one some time in the future when I have a better frame of mind.

I continued driving up Skelton Butte Rd which would take me to both Hopkins and Shelton Buttes in 6-7mi. About halfway up the road I came to a halt where a huge tree had recently fallen on the road, completely blocking it. In way of consolation, I decided to pay a visit to nearby Peak 2,913ft, off a spur road that forked just before the blockage. I drove to a saddle on the east side of the peak and had to park before hiking the remaining distance up the older road that led to the summit. It was a quick 10min roundtrip effort to the summit covered in forest and without views.

Hopkins Butte

Back to the jeep, I began perusing my maps for an alternate route to Hopkins Butte. I found one that worked, but it was a very long diversion, more than 10mi of extra driving on winding forest roads. It was nearly 7p by the time I'd made my way to the starting point, 2/3mi north of the summit. The topo map shows a road continuing up the ridge for about half the distance, but it was too overgrown to be of much use, even on foot. Instead, I found better going in the adjacent forest to the east. It wasn't as easy as I'd hoped, but it was much better than it could have been, taking me about 30min to cover the distance to the summit. The last few hundred yards had clearer forest understory and were rather pleasant as I found my way to the highpoint. With only weak views, I left a register on this P1K under a small pile of rocks I collected from the forest floor. I returned pretty much the same route, finding it easier to stay off the old road I had tried to use at the start.

Shelton Butte

This last summit of the day lies a few miles northwest of Hopkins Butte. It used to be home to a fire lookout, but now just sports a small telecom installation. Pretty much any vehicle can make the drive up to this one, no hiking involved. It was almost 8:30p by now and time to call it a day. Since the higher elevation offered a cool respite from the higher temperatures down by the river, I decided to spend the night atop Shelton Butte. With only a modest amount of bushwhacking on the day, I found it far more enjoyable than the previous day...


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