Oh oh, another Black Butte page for California? What gives to have so many peaks or hills or bumps or cones named the same? There is a Black Butte up near Mt. Shasta and another in the Mohave Desert as well as a Black butte in Oregon and I'm sure there are others. The Black Butte this page is all about doesn't really look black and but is does look like a butte. But, Glenn county has to have its own Black Butte and this is the one to fill the bill. Its in a little known area of the state, located in the coast range, between the Central Valley to the east and the Pacific ocean to the west. What makes this mountain significant is that it is the county highpoint for Glenn county and also one of California's prominence peaks coming in at #98 on the list.
This is a good one to combine with Mendocino county highpoint, Anthony Peak since they aren't very far apart and a trip back is a long long drive so plan accordingly if you are chasing the California county highpoints.
Getting ThereI approached from I-5 and exited to U.S. 101 but first I'll give the directions from I-5. Take the SR 162 exit at Willows and head west. Follow this paved road 21 miles until you reach a junction with Road 306, just a bit north of Elk Creek. Turn right on Rd 306 and drive 3.5 miles to the Alder Springs Road (also known as
FH 7) Turn left onto Alder Springs road and reset your odometer to zero. Alder Spring Roads is a continuation of SR 162 for the next 3.7 miles then it becomes FH 7. The turnoff for Black Butte is exactly 32.0 miles after turning on to Alder Springs Road. The turnoff used to be marked by sign but the sign as reported by Wingman is now broken off. The turnoff to Black Butte on your left which is just a spur road so watch for it. Thanks go to Wingman for some of the above information which helped to clarify the driving information.
You often can drive about a mile on the spur road if you don't have snow or mud to deal with. If snow is present, you most likely won't find the spur road at all so find a spot off of the main road and park and walk it. See Summit Trail route for more details
From US 101, 90 miles north of Santa Rosa, watch for the SR 162 exit at the Longvale turnoff. Don't be in a hurry on this road as it winds and curves alongside the Eel River and then winds a bit in the coast mountains before it makes its way to Covelo (28 miles from Longvale). After Covelo, it is 1.5 miles to a right turn for the Mendocino Pass road (FH 7 ). The road is paved for another 11.5 miles before it turns into a high quality dirt road for another 11 miles that leads up to Medocino Pass. It is another 6.5 miles from the pass to the sign that indicates the Black Butte Summit Trail which will be on the right side of the road. If snow or road conditions stop you from traveling the short little spur road that leads to a turnaround, then find a good spot to park and hike it in which adds another mile to the overall effort.
A copy of Gary Suttle's fine book (see books at the left) has the road description listed under Mendocino county and I would refer you to that
information if you want to include Anthony Peak on your agenda.
Red TapeNo permits are required nor is a forest pass of any kind required for parking at the trailhead. Black Butte is in the Mendocino National Forest.
825 N. Humboldt Ave.
Willows, CA 95988
It would be wise to check this Forest Service site for road conditions as this following example will indicate why !!
This information for Jan 2007 indicated a road closure:
The Glenn County Road Department. has closed Forest Highway 7 for the winter. Thirty Mendocino National Forest roads in the area burned by the Hunter Fire last August will be temporarily closed this winter to protect the roads and resources from erosion and damage. The Hunter Fire area will remain open to foot and equestrian travel.
Due to major road damage, Forest Service Road M-8 (River Road) from Van Arsdale to Lake Pillsbury is closed until further notice. Alternate routes to Lake Pillsbury are available:
* Mendocino County Road 240 from the bridge at Van Arsdale, to Lake Pillsbury;
* Lake County Road 301 (Elk Mountain Road) from Upper Lake to the Lake Pillsbury Basin.
The public can call the Glenn County Public Works Department at 530-945-5448 for county road conditions in Glenn County, or the Highway Patrol at 707-463-4722 for local road conditions for Lake and South Mendocino counties. Please use caution and call before you try any of these roads in the winter or early spring as the roads can be closed.
When To ClimbThe road leading into the area can be closed by snow until the road is plowed so I'd advise checking with the Medocino National forest for information on the roads and if there are any closures. Otherwise, as Suttle mentions in his book, the peak should be accessible from late May until October / November unless snow closes it earlier.
For a weather link, scroll to the bottom
CampingYou could probably camp at the trailhead although it would be primitive car camping at best since there are no facilities of any kind. The nearest campground that I noticed was Plaskett Lake Campground with over 30 units and two nearby fishing lakes.
Of course you could stay in Willows, Red Bluff, Marysville, Williams etc if you didn't wish to camp since this is an easy peak to climb with the road travel to and from taking up most of the time.
Miscellaneous InfoThe summit of Black Butte with its register and benchmark
Mountain ConditionsThe closest community of any kind is Covelo, located 30 miles to the west.
Glenn County CaliforniaAs of 2000, the county had a population of 26,453. The county seat is the city of Willows which is located just off of I-5. Glenn County was formed in 1891 from parts of Colusa County. It was named for Dr. Hugh J. Glenn, who was the largest wheat farmer in the state during his lifetime, and a man of great prominence in political and commercial life in California.
Butte?The American West has a lot of mountains called Buttes versus being called a peak or a mountain and this is another one of those given that name. I was curious about the origin and exact meaning of the word "Butte" so I went to google and googled it. Here's what Wikipedia had to say:
A butte (IPA: [bju:t]) is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small flat top, smaller than mesas and plateaus. Buttes are prevalent in the western United States and on the Hawaiian Islands, especially around Honolulu. The word "butte" comes from a French word meaning "small hill".
"Buttes are formed by erosion when a cap of hard rock, usually of volcanic origin, covers a layer of softer rock that is easily worn away. This hard rock avoids erosion while the rock around it wears down. One example of a noted butte is Chimney Rock."
The encyclopedia Brittanica had this similar explanation:
"(French: “hillock” or “rising ground”) Flat-topped hill surrounded by a steep cliff, from the bottom of which a slope descends to the plain. The term is sometimes used for an elevation higher than a hill but not high enough to be a mountain. Buttes topped by horizontal platforms of hard rock are characteristic of the arid plateau region of the western U.S. A butte is similar to a mesa but generally smaller; both are created by erosional processes."
End of definition (is everyone clear on the meaning of Butte now?
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