Sugar Pine Peak
Peak 7,180ft P1K
Lost Lake Ridge

Tue, Jun 19, 2007

With: Ryan Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

Leaving San Jose shortly after 6a, Ryan and I headed out on a short 4-day road trip to northeastern California. The plan had two major objectives - county highpoints and fishing. I'm not a fisherman and don't really enjoy the sport, but my 10yr-old has had a passion about it since he was a few years old. Today would be primarily county highpointing, saving the fishing for the following three days.

We drove out to Sacramento, through Marysville, and NE on E21. A year earlier, we had attempted this same hike, but were stopped by a closed gate a few miles off E21. Inquiring at the firestation, we were told the road had washed out in the winter and was scheduled to be fixed shortly. We didn't check on the road status before heading out this time, but figured they ought to be done with it by now. We found the roads were all open as expected. The washed out section was easy to spot, a section of road traversing a steep hillside just north of Slate Creek. The pavement had not been replaced, but the dirt was easy enough to negotiate. We followed the excellent directions provided by Ken Jones in order to reach the trailhead for the Yuba County highpoint. If you use the USGS 7.5' map, you'll be in trouble since the roads aren't accurately represented, or rather it isn't apparent where the main roads are and where the abandoned ones are. It was only after the fact that I was able to trace a route on the map to figure out how we got there. In any event, though it was a long drive with about 10 miles of driving off E21, the roads were easily negotiable by our 2WD van to the start of spur road 21N68Y. We parked the van and started up the road shortly before 10:30a.

It took ten minutes to walk to the end of the gravel road, then another ten minutes to climb the steep logging road to the highpoint. We found the concrete block in Sierra County, but not the nearby pine cone cairn described in some of the trip reports. No register, either. We continued NE a short ways to the next local highpoint (also in Sierra Co) just to be sure we were in the right area. We gridded the area around the Yuba Co HP, stepping over countless logs and branches lying about. The area looks to have been partially logged, and nearby areas were being marked and tagged for upcoming logging. The views were completely blocked by trees in all directions, and we had to admit that the whole experience was one of the least satisfying we'd had. If most of the county highpoints were like this one, we'd have dropped this hobby long ago.

Back at the van, we retraced our drive back out to E21, then continued NE up and over La Porte, down through Quincy (where we stopped for lunch), past Lake Almanor, then west on Humboldt/Humbug Rd.

A little break here for some helpful directions. If you follow Suttle's directions, you'll be coming from the west, a longer drive and hike. He also gives directions to the TH we used off Humbug Road, but our approach works really well from the east. The roads are well graded for 2WD and it's only about 15 miles off the paved road. Most of the road we drove at 35-40mph, and it took us about 45min to get there off the highway. The maps show Humboldt and Humbug Roads as having two different entries off the highway, but there's only one entry and then it splits a few miles up the road. Additionally, the sign at the turnoff is only readable if coming from the north. If coming from Quincy, it is very easy to miss. Look for a sign to Yellow Springs CG - that is the Humboldt-Humbug turnoff.

By 4:30p we had found the PCT crossing the road (it's easy to miss as we did at first), parked the van, and headed out. The trail winds nicely through pine forests at a moderate grade. Passing through two meadows enroute, it is impossible to miss the turnoff. Someone has added a nice sign at the PCT junction for the Butte County highpoint. The trail winds up to the local highpoint in Plumas County where you can find a register among some rocks. Passing over the rocks, the trail continues down to the Butte County line, ending where a second sign marking the highpoint is tacked on a tree. This was a far more satisfying county highpoint even though like Yuba, it isn't really on a summit or have an official name. The hike to the end took us 50 minutes, and then 40 minutes for the return. The weather was superb, 68F when we started, breezy to keep the bugs down, and quite sunny. We had a few views when near the top, notably to Mt. Lassen in the north and Lake Almanor to the east.

We drove back down Humbug Road, then headed east to Susanville where we spent the night. In town we found a Safeway (for breakfast stuff), a Subway (for dinner), and a Starbucks (for Dad) all next to each other. Plus we got a room with two beds and WiFi for $58 at the Motel 9. We loved Susanville. :-)


M Worster comments on 08/19/10:
For those planning this trip, check ahead for road conditions. The section that Bob noted as the newly repaired road in 2007 is washed out again in 2010. It turns a 1 mile RT hike into a 13 mile RT. You would need to approach this on the paved road from the east, but I do not know where that comes from. I saw fresh tire tracks that came from somewhere.
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