Two Peaks East P300
Two Peaks West
Deer Knob P300
Peak 6,452ft P300
Eagle Rock

Jun 23, 2022
Eagle Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile

This was my first visit to the Sierra this year, a sad state of affairs, only compensated by a lot of hiking and climbing elsewhere in the state. I was headed to the Tahoe area, but today would be a handful of summits in the Eldorado National Forest. The primary objective was a pair of summits called Two Peaks that would make for a longish hike. The others were much easier by comparison.

Two Peaks

The first three summits are located north of US50. I had been to the area two years earlier for 3-4 days, visiting most of the summits in the area around Loon Lake and Union Valley Reservoir. There is a good dirt road that gets within half a mile of Two Peaks, but on my first visit, I found it gated five miles from the peaks. At the time, I didn't want to make the long hike when I had so many other easier objectives. I was hoping I might get lucky and find the gate unlocked this time around, but it was not to be. The hike up the road is pleasant enough, no traffic on the way up and only two vehicles on the way down (the owners of an inholding near Pearl Lake at the end of the road). The road heads downhill to start before crossing Big Silver Creek on a bridge, then uphill the rest of the way. The views along the road are very limited due to forest cover. I got one far view of Two Peaks West, but mostly didn't see them until I was near the base.

The north and west sides of Two Peaks West were the first close-ups I got on my approach from the road. They looked quite cliffy. The west side had an abundance of manzanita, too, and not very inviting. I decided to continue around to the south side and hope for better. It was. There is much manzanita found on the south side as well, but the slopes aren't as steep. The south side of the west summit looked tough, so I continued around towards the saddle between the two peaks, having left the road when a second gate was encountered. The manzanita wasn't as bad as it first looked, and with the help of animal trails, I had very little real bushwhacking as I made my way to the east summit first, approaching from the south. Manzanita gave way to an easy granite scramble on the upper half, and in about two and three quarter hours I had found my way to the East summit with easy class 3 summit rocks. The Crystal Range dominates the views north and east, while the Eldorado Forest fans out in other directions nearly as far as one can see. I'd forgotten to bring registers with me today, so I would be unable to leave one. I took about 25min to make my way to the west summit, dropping first to the high saddle between them. It has a better summit block than the east summit, though it is only class 2 with a convenient route that spirals up to the top. The topo maps has the east summit 18ft higher than the west summit, though I measured only a foot difference with my GPSr. They certainly looked to be of nearly the same height, and it's certainly worth visiting both.

After my short stay at the summit, I descended Two Peaks West down the south side, a fun bit of class 3 scrambling for 2/3 of the distance. The lower third has some thicker manzanita, not too bad when heading downhill. I wouldn't recommend it for the ascent. I spent much of the next hour and a half decending back down the road. Thunderstorms had been threatening much of the morning, though no rain fell until the last few miles along the road. The rain wasn't very heavy and was quite welcome, helping to drop the temps from the mid-70s to the mid-50's.

Deer Knob

This minor summit is found on the northwest side of Union Valley Reservoir. It rained a surprising amount on the drive to reach it, but it stopped before I could start hiking and the temps quickly returned to the 70s. There has been some extensive logging in the area, including along the transmission line that runs along the east slope of Deer Knob. I was able to drive the Jeep through the fresh logging to within 0.10mi of the summit, making for a very easy ascent. 10min would suffice for the roundtrip. The summit is forested leaving no views. Someone erected a crude log fort at the highpoint with a discarded beverage can inside. I didn't leave a register here because it would easily be destroyed when the inevitable fire burns over the peak.

Peak 6,452ft - Eagle Rock

These closely-spaced summits are found on the south side of US50, above the community of Kyburz. Marcus Sierra made a real hike of this by starting from the pavement along Silver Fork Rd. I drove the Forest Roads to make it much easier, about 2mi roundtrip from the southeast side of Peak 6,452ft. The 2021 Caldor Fire (same one that threatened South Lake Tahoe last summer) burned over most of the forest south of US50, but it was not as intense or extensive as other fires. Many trees survived, both individually and in varying swath sizes. There has been a good deal of salvage logging since then, cleaning out many snags and leaving the forest looking surprisingly healthy. I noted almost as many new pine seedlings as I did brush regrowth.

Much of the route I followed to Peak 6,452ft had been burned nearly completely. Nearer the summit, granite blocks break up the forest and there were more survivors to be found. The summit block would be class 4-5 without the help of a small pine that grew on the north side. It didn't \survive the fire and using it to clambor up the block was a bit sketchy, but worked. As the tree crumbles over the next few years, it will make the summit block harder. I left a register here before descending off the block.

The traverse to Eagle Rock is only half a mile, but is not trivial. The terrain is a mix of rock, brush and forest, some burned, some not. Eagle Rock itself is an imposing sight from the north and east - no way up those sides. I worked my way around to the south side where it becomes class 3, though not easy - a fun bit of rock work. There are two points vying for highpoint - the western one is higher and is easy to reach by passing through an arch on the ridge between them. I found a geocache at the east summit and moved it to the west one. It was housed in a green ammo can, so not hard to spot. Clouds covered much of the sky, but the thunder and rain of earlier in the afternoon had spent itself and I stayed dry the rest of the day. On the way back I had planned to traverse low on the south side of Peak 6,452ft, but I'd forgotten my trekking poles at its summit and had to climb all the way back up to retrieve them. Ugh, ugh. This left me pretty spent by the time I returned to the Jeep shortly before 7a. A pretty full day, this one...


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