• Day Trip! Bald Mountain exploring

    by  • November 19, 2016 • Field Trip, Sierra Foothills

    Call of the Wild!

    Attention, Four Wheel drivers…
    The view from the top of Bald Mountain, looking down on Shaver Lake is astonishing and awe-inspiring.  The summit where the fire lookout stands is one of the highest places you can drive in the Sierra National Forest! Check out our four wheeling day up on Bald Mountain and the directions for when you want to go. 
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
     What a glorious day in our beautiful mountain area. Bald Mountain is an expanse of granite set high to the east above Shaver Lake in the Sierra National Forest.
    We’ve been up here before. For me, the first time was as a passenger on my husband’s dualsport motorcycle. The other riders in the group were challenged to get up the steep trail to the top, and those who didn’t see me arrive, marveled that Tractor Man could manage the two of us so skillfully. Someone took a photo of us, from the back,..looking out onto the view far below. Since then I’ve always loved this mountaintop aerie.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    It was head-spinningly beautiful and exciting up there this day.  We and a friend had driven the jeeps up, through the Shaver lake are to the Snow Play area, into the forest on a dirt road, and then up, up, up,…a rocky stair stepped trail which in some places looked concrete, but was all rock.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
     Low growing manzanita covers the ground like a carpet.
    Bald Mountain trail markers
    Rock stacks mark the trail.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    The trail is marked by metal plates nailed to trees,…trees growing out of solid granite!
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Some places in the trail are level and lower altitude. The trees get smaller and more craggy as you climb into the steeper more alpine heights.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Bald Mountain rises east and straight up from Shaver Lake, which appears like a sparkling sapphire down below.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    At the summit, each way you look is a spectacular view.  This would be a hiker’s dream.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    When you go, bring a friend,…it’s fun and there is safety in numbers when four-wheeling.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    According to the National Historic Lookout Registry, the Bald Mountain Lookout: First there was a cabin at Bald Mountain Lookout on the Sierra National Forest dating to 1905 and one of the first in the state. It was replaced in 1911 by a wooden tower, and the current 20′ H-brace metal tower was built in 1934.
    The lookout was last staffed in the summer of 1979 and was then abandoned in October, 1979. You can climb up into the cab. All the windows are broken out.  This lookout is #823 on the National Historic Lookout Register.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Someone hung up a swing under the watch tower and this day, someone replaced the tattered American flag atop the tower with a new one.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Rock stacks, called cairns,  are everywhere on the mountain sometimes for artistic expressions of whimsy,…but mostly for trail markings.  Rocks are used in lieu of wooden or metal staked signs which would erode.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Over the side is more granite,…a huge dome of rock and that’s Shaver behind us, as you can see in the photo below.  We kept Maggie on a leash.
    Bald Mountain Sierra forest california

    Photo:The Peakbagging Page

    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    Which Vehicle?
    To get to the summit, you’ll need 4WD, special wheels, driving skill and companions.  It’s not wise to go it alone up here, while taking riskier trails.  For regular 4WD vehicles, there are plenty of dirt trails through the forest here to challenge you without raising your blood pressure.  We saw a Mercedes 4WD this day, headed for the summit and wondered how that turned out!  There are plenty of spots to camp and on some dirt roads you can easily drive a recreational vehicles and campers.  For our next trip, we’ll camp nearby and tow the jeep up for some fun exploring.
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    If trees can grow out of the granite at more than 7000 feet in altitude, then why is it sometimes difficult for us to grow them in our own gardens.  The trees growing here with rock acting as their ‘soil,’ will amaze you!
    2016-11 Bald Mountain 4WD
    What a view!
    Believe it or not, all the trails up here are marked and the Clovis Independent Four Wheelers have volunteered to maintain the trails, gates and signs, working hard to keep the trails clearly marked and downed trees cut and cleared away.
    Bald Mountain
    Gardeners take note,…there’s nothing quite like Nature’s landscaping and you wouldn’t go wrong in your own gadren area if you designed your space according to how it appears in the wild.  Tree spacing, shrubbery and ground covers, accent rocks…it’s all perfect inspiration up here.
    Bald Mountain
    Up on top of Hollywood Hill…quite the adventure!
    Bald Mountain
    Back to civilization!
    Bald Mountain OHV map

    Bald Mountain OHV map

    Bald Mountain – This link points to a two page document and map from the Forest Service with information about the area and an OHV map of how to get to the summit.

    If you go:

    To get here, you drive to Shaver and from there, there a a couple different starting points. The trails up here are dirt or rock, rated easy to very challenging, and the scenery is spectacular. Nearly the whole mountain is granite, with trees growing right through it.
    If you’re just beginning to 4WD, go with someone who knows the ropes,…it’s totally worth the effort.

    Brewer OHV Route: Just above Shaver Lake you will find the Brewer OHV route which is classified as Easiest. This trail is great for beginners or those looking to test a new vehicle. The route is 3.5 miles long and takes about 1 hour to drive.

    To get there take Hwy 168 east from Clovis to Shaver Lake. Follow Hwy 168 past the town of Shaver Lake to the Tamarack Sno Park Area. Turn east on Road 9S69 and travel approximately 3 miles, then turn left on Road 9S69. Continue on Road 9S69 for 2 miles until you reach Road 9S10 on your right. Follow Road 9S10 for 1.5 miles to you get to a gate and large bulletin board.

    Bald Mountain summit

    Bald Mountain: This popular OHV route is the only route on the district that is open year-round. The route is accessible from the south by taking Dinkey Creek Road east from Shaver Lake and at approximately 9.5 miles turning left on Rock Creek Road (9S09). Go north on Rd 9S09 for 3.5 miles to start of the route. Staying right at the first two intersections will put you on the more challenging lower loop. Stay left for the most direct and easier route to the top of Bald Mtn. To access from the north take Hwy 168 above Shaver Lake to the Tamarack Snow-Park, travel along Rd 9S09 for 3 miles to the intersection of Rd. 9S02. Take Rd. 9S02 south and you will come to the north trailhead in less than 10 minutes. This route is known as the “easy way” to the top of Bald Mountain. Stay right at the first intersection after the trailhead. Many high clearance trucks can reach the top going this way. Left will take you to the lower loop.

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.