TV Hill
Peak 6,815ft P1K
Loyalton BM
Dixie Mountain P2K ex-SPS
Smith Peak P1K

Tue, Aug 21, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2

My daughter decided to join me on a 4-day peakbagging mission to Plumas National Forest, north of Lake Tahoe, though it may not have been what she'd hoped for. The first day was mostly a lot of driving, both to reach the area around Sierra Valley from San Jose, and to reach most of the peaks. The smokey haze hanging over the area is pervasive, not thick smoke like I'd seen earlier, but enough to mute most of the views and give everything a drab appearance. One gentleman I spoke said it had been like this all summer, the worst he'd seen in the area, ever. The forest roads were dusty and sometimes rough, a bit trying as a passenger in the jeep. None of the first day's peaks were memorable, rather on the forgettable side, even for me.

TV Hill/Peak 6,815ft/Loyalton BM

The peak of interest here was the unnamed Peak 6,815ft, a P1K south of Loyalton and Sierra Valley. We drove paved Smithneck Rd south from Loyalton, then onto good dirt Antelope Valley Rd, super dusty but suitable for most vehicles. Where we turned north to head towards our summits, the spur road becomes quite rough and shows little sign of usage, definitely suitable only for high-clearance 4WD. We drove a little more than a mile and a half of this up to the summit crest, parking between TV Hill and Peak 6,815ft. We then hiked the short distance to TV Hill, about 1/8mi, found little of interest at the summit rocks, then turned south to hike 1/3mi to the brushy top of Peak 6,815ft. No views on the latter, and hazy views on the former. Back in the Jeep we drove less than half a mile further towards Loyalton BM, an obvious bonus, before grinding to a halt, the road shown on the topo map continuing to the summit is no longer driveable. We found another version of road along the crest that we could walk, but it was barely distinguishable for the old road it once was. The highpoint is found before reaching the benchmark as the ridge becomes covered in a denser layer of stubby trees and brush. Jackie declined to follow me on my quest to find the benchmark, which I did, at a slightly lower point to the north. There were the remains of a wooden survey tower and some modest views overlooking Sierra Valley. No registers on any of these summits and we left none.

Dixie Mountain

This was the only P2K we would visit on this roadtrip. There is a road reaching all the way to the top where a manned lookout is located. The peak used to be on the SPS list, but was removed because the drive-up nature is unbecoming of that exalted list, unlike the HPS version. The dirt access road gets rough in places and is suitable only for high-clearance vehicles. It starts at the north end of Frenchman Lake, off paved Frenchman Rd. There is a sign at the start but there is not a corresponding one at a critical junction a few miles up the road. It helps to know where you're going ahead of time. The lookout is a bit weathered, but sits majestically atop a volcanic rock outcrop, one of many that are common in this area. We spoke to the caretaker for 10-15min about views, peaks, lookouts and other fun stuff before taking our leave. It's a long drive to this one.

Smith Peak

This one is a shorter drive, but still dusty and sometimes rough, to reach another manned lookout atop Smith Peak. I drove as far as the truck I saw parked 1/4mi down from the top, but could probably have just as easily driven to the base of the tower. Jackie had had enough by this time and declined to join me for the short walk to the top. I took a few pictures, but didn't bother to disturb the caretaker in the cab. Views again were so-so due to the high level of haze. We retreated back down the roads to the small town of Portola where we would spend the next three evenings. I'm hoping we don't have four days of such peaks or I might have to write off this part of the Sierra for the summer season...

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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Dixie Mountain - Smith Peak

This page last updated: Thu Aug 23 06:29:23 2018
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