Dutchman Peak P500
Peak 4,677ft P500
Tamarack Mountain
Little Shoeinhorse Mountain
Shoeinhorse Mountain P1K
Brushy Butte P300
Chalk Mountain P1K
Long Valley Mountain P500

Wed, May 8, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX


For some reason, my GPX track reset while I was on my way to Brushy Butte, so the first five summits aren't to be found on the track. Not the first time it's happened - maybe someday I'll figure out what causes it, probably some sort of user error.

On the second of three days in the Shasta-Trinity NF, I had planned to spend most of it driving around to various P1Ks in the region around Lake McCloud, between Interstate 5 to the west and SR89 to the east and north. As I found on the prior day, the road conditions are finicky, particularly at this time of year before the Forest Service has had a chance to clear the roads of downfall after the winter snows begin to melt. A heavy snow year meant that a number of roads below 5,000ft elevation were still blocked by snow. All of which meant that I had to hunt around to find open roads. After driving down from my campsite, I discovered that the main road between Iron Canyon Reservoir and Lake McCloud is Forest Route 11, also called Hawkins Creek Rd. Starting at the northeast end of the reservoir, the road is paved for several miles before becoming good gravel as it climbs up and over the divide between the two bodies of water and their drainages. Shortly over the divide, I found a spur road following along the crest to the southeast in the direction of my main objective, Shoeinhorse Mountain, a P1K. This road had showed less traffic and maintenance, but it was open to get me close enough to the mountain. There were other peaks along the road to Shoeinhorse, bonus peaks that I stopped to visit first.

Dutchman Peak

This was the first stop on the way out to Shoeinhorse Mtn, the road passing below the summit on the north and west sides. I stopped where the road goes over a shoulder due west of the summit and went up from there, a distance of maybe 1/3mi. There was moderate brush in places, but nothing serious. The summit is buried in the forest with a few large trees standing sentinel nearby. Nothing tricky on this one.

Peak 4,677ft

This unnamed point lies about a mile west of Dutchman Peak. Two more miles of driving got me to a point on the Southwest Ridge where a spur road follows the ridge to the summit. No longer driveable, I parked here and hiked the 3/4mi to the summit, mostly along the old road, parts of it a little tough to negoatiate. There was a good view of Mt. Shasta enroute, but for most of the way and at the summit there were no views to be had. Neither of these first two summits had anything of much interest to get excited about.

Tamarack / Little Shoeinhorse / Shoeinhorse

I continued driving southwest on the road once back at the jeep, the road winding its way on one side of the ridge or the other. I reached a junction directly on the ridge where one road traverses the north side of the ridge, skirting below these three summits. This road (37N48) I found later was blocked by snow around the 4,500-foot mark and wouldn't have worked too well. The other fork (37N15Y) goes directly up and along the ridge and it was this that I tried first. It's pretty steep and 4WD is probably required. Unfortunately, I found the road blocked by downfall only a few hundred feet up from the junction. I was barely able to turn around, parking the jeep there and setting off on foot since I was only about 2mi from Shoeinhorse at this point. There were a few other places with downfall, but for the most part it seems this road is maintained for public use and it was just too early in the season. It made for a nice hike anyway, with great views off both sides of the ridgeline. My first stop was Tamarack Mtn where snow blocked the road. I left the road to climb the short distance to the modestly brushy summit. There are two billboard-sized signal reflectors just below the summit on the northeast side. Tamarack's summit is open with low scrub and rocks, the next two peaks, slightly higher, could be seen to the southwest. None of the summits are very peak-like, rather just rounded bumps along a very long ridgeline. I rejoined the road and continued on to the next summit, Little Shoeinhorse Mtn. The road goes very close to the summit on this one, requiring maybe a hundred feet of easy cross-country at most. It probably helped that a fire burned over this summit back in 2012. The larger trees appear to have been salvaged but the smaller ones were left as standing snags like a small ghost forest, the brush doing its best to grow back before the new trees can take hold. There is a USFS benchmark atop Little Shoeinhorn with similar views as Tamarack. To the south stretches the surprisingly large Squaw Creek drainage with Bagley Mtn (which I visited the previous day) visible as the highest point on the ridge opposite the drainage. It was another short distance along the road to the morning's highpoint atop Shoeinhorse Mtn, a P2K rising to over 5,200ft. The road goes directly over the summit here with no need to wander into the brush and downfall on either side. It was the ugliest of the three summits with little in the way of greenery to brighten the scene. The road continues, but the next peak I was interested in, North Fork Mtn (also a P1K) was more than four air miles to the southwest. This was too much hiking for me with a weak knee, so I turned around and left it for another visit, perhaps in the fall when I can drive further on the road network. After returning to the jeep, I drove back down to the junction and tried the other road, finding it blocked by snow as mentioned earlier. I was hoping to use it for a couple of other bonus peaks nearby, Ladybug Butte and Van Sicklin Butte, but I quickly lost interest when the effort to get to them became too much.

Brushy Butte

The next P1K on my list was Grizzly Peak, about 4mi north of Dutchman Peak. There is a lookout at the summit with good roads leading to it, but at over 6,000ft, I knew I would be stopped by snow well short of the summit. Brushy Butte is a bonus peak along the road to Grizzly from the south, and at around 5,200ft elevation, I figured I might be able to get this one while checking out the road to Grizzly. I didn't quite make the drive to the junction for Brushy Butte, but I got close enough, stopped by snow around 4,500ft. I parked the jeep there, walking the remaining 1/3mi to the junction with a spur road heading up to Brushy Butte in less than a mile. This spur road starts off well enough, but soon becomes blocked by downfall and large heaps of earth that had been piled to intentionally block the old road. It made for an easy path to the summit on foot, though I had to hike across several hundred feet of soft snow near the summit before finding a small rock pile and a survey marker in a large clearing surrounded by trees. I left a register here before heading back down the way I'd come.

After returning to the jeep, my next P1Ks were to the northwest, on the west side of Lake McCloud. I drove the good Hawkins Creek Rd down towards the lake, finding it cleared of debris and in excellent shape. Two miles from the lake I was suddenly stopped short by large concrete blocks in the road and Road Closed sign. Later I found that a washout had closed the road the previous Fall and it had yet to be repaired. There were no detours available around it, so I had no choice but to return back over the crest to Iron Canyon Reservoir and change objectives. Luckily I had plenty of gas still and other peaks to the east I could chase after.

Chalk Mountain

East of Iron Canyon Reservoir, west of SR89 and north of the Pit River are two P1Ks, Bald Mtn and Chalk Mtn. I had found no TRs describing ascents, so I was own my own to figure out the roads and how to reach them. There is a very good gravel road between Big Bend and Lake Britton that cuts through the mountains between the two P1Ks. Called Summit Lake Rd, I traveled this from one end to the other over the course of the afternoon. My first effort was to reach Bald Mtn, and to that end I tried two different routes to get closer to the peak, but both were blocked by closed gates. The peak and most of the area around it are owned by the Sierra Pacific timber company. The roads were closed to vehicles only, but foot traffic was allowed. It would have been 5-6mi each way on foot so I left this for another time when my knee is stronger, then turned my attention to Chalk Mtn. This summit is within USFS lands, so no access issues. There is a spur road off Summit Lake Rd that climbs up to the SE Ridge of Chalk Mtn, coming very close to the summit. The road was blocked at a junction by snow and downfall, but I managed to get within 3/4mi of the summit - close enough. with the summit at nearly 6,000ft, I was surprised to have gotten this far, especially on the north side of the mountain. I hiked up the road through forest, leaving it to go cross-country when I'd had enough of the snow that covered much of the road. There was more snow on the cross-country route near the summit, but the top was open and snow-free. The summit had burned over back in 2009 and so far there is little evidence of the trees returning. The highpoint is found in a clump of rocks not far to the west of the point indicated on LoJ. I found a USFS benchmark but no register. There is a firebreak running across the summit and with a sturdy vehicle and a cleared road, one could probably drive to the top. On the way back I followed the firebreak down to the end of the spur road, then took this back down to the jeep. The snow on the road was much less of a nuisance going downhill than in the other direction.

Long Valley Mountain

After returning to the jeep, I drove back to Summit Lake Rd (btw, the actual Summit Lake is a huge disappointment, more a mudhole/swamp than a lake) and drove this east to Lake Britton. I continued through McArthur Burney Falls SP nearly to SR89 before turning off on another good forest road heading up towards Long Valley Mtn, my last stop for the day. The road goes around the north side of the summit, well below top, but a spur road goes higher on the west side. Much of the west side was recently logged, with huge stacks of not-so-big trees stacked high on either side of the road. It was incredibly dusty driving up this road from the recent activity. I could have driven much higher in hindsight, but not knowing this, I stopped about 2/5mi from the summit where it looked like I could follow the clear-cut slope up towards the top. The logging didn't extend to the summit, but it got me close enough that the cross-country was very short and little trouble. The summit had a small clearing but no views and I left a register in a small pile of rocks before heading back down.

After returning to the jeep I drove back out on the road, stopping on the east side of Long Valley Mtn at a saddle where I showered and got some fresh clothes. I drove down to the SR89/SR299 junction where I got gas and a very large can of Mike's Hard Lemonade that I would put to good use. I spent well over an hour driving north into the Whitehorse Mountains where I planned to start the next day. Near the end, I barely retreated out of a very muddy section of road that caught me by surprise in the twilight hour. Remote as it was, it would have been a very unfortunate affair that I was glad didn't go quickly south. Even with 4WD and both lockers on, I barely got out of that one. Relieved, I drove a short distance back to drier, level ground where I spent the night.


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