After climbing Rainbow Ridge in Humboldt County on Friday, March 23, 2007, I reluctantly headed south and out of the California Redwoods. I found a place to car camp for the night near Laytonville. I got up early the next morning and headed to Sonoma County to climb both Hood Mountain and Bald Mountain.
I followed the directions and access on Summit Post for Hood Mountain, but the trailhead on Adobe Canyon Road was closed for trail maintenance until May 1st. I continued up the road to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, paid my $6 and parked. I figured I could at least climb Bald Mountain. It was still early and the Visitor Center wasn’t open, so I couldn’t buy a map. It didn’t matter because there is a map posted at the trailhead and it looked easy enough to follow.
I donned my day pack and trekking poles and headed up the trail. It was a beautiful clear morning and no one else was on the trail yet. I didn’t go far before some turkeys started gobbling (is that a real work? gobbling?) at me. I wasn’t close enough to get a good picture, but it was nice to see them. Soon there were 3 deer standing in a clearing, and then I almost stepped on a jack rabbit he was so close. It was a peaceful morning and I made good time up the trail.
Soon the trail intersected a small paved road that headed up to the summit. I followed the signs up the road and was surprised the road went all the way up to the saddle between Red Mountain and Bald Mountain. All this time I had only seen one other hiker as he was heading back down to the campground.
I went up the unpaved road towards the summit of Bald Mountain and enjoyed the views. On the summit were 2 other hikers who had been there for a while. We had a nice visit before they continued on with their hike. I took some pictures and ate a snack. It was fun to read the signs on the summit and try to identify the mountains indicated. I have actually climbed some of the peaks on the signs.
Since I still wanted to climb nearby Hood Mountain today, I started back down to the trailhead. I stopped at the Red Mountain/ Bald Mountain saddle and climbed up the road to Red Mountain. No views from that summit because the brush is too high. Going down the road I was met by at least 50 hikers on their way to the summit along with several mountain bikers.
Instead of following the Lower Bald Mountain Trail I continued down the paved road. It wandered around the hillside some before coming out just across the street from the Visitor Center near the gate. The roundtrip hike took 2.25 hours and was just under 6.0 miles. There was about 1,500 ft of elevation gain plus another 100 ft to get to the top of Red Mountain. This was a good warm up for the day.
I left Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and drove around to the other side of Hood Mountain. I drove up Los Alamos Road to access the Los Alamos Trailhead and climbed Hood Mountain later this same day.