OverviewCrystal Peak is a USGS named summit in middle of the northern Sierra Nevada Diamond Mountains, on the border of Lassen and Plumas Counties, roughly between Reno and Susanville as the crow flies. Its claim to fame and reason for its name is due to its unusual summit block, which is apparently made out of solid quartz. The block rises about forty feet above the approach road/trail and is more of a surprise than it is impressive, but once on it, it seems surreal. Most of the visible quartz is of the milky variety, but if you poke around, you will find samples that are colored and transparent. For more information about quartz, please refer to the Wiki page on quartz.
For peakbaggers, this may be considered a weak "bonus peak" done after climbing Adams Peak to the south east. OHV roads cover the area, leaving this peak with little aesthetic appeal from a mountaineering perspective, but I think it's worth a visit for the notoriety that I've mentioned.
The most straight forward way to Crystal peak that I can see is to drive to Frenchman Lake then drive east along the south shore; eventually you will hit a "T" intersection where if you were to turn right, you could approach Crystal Peak on an OHV road.
To get to Frenchman lake from Truckee CA, take 80E, 89N, 49E, 70E, then take the paved road north to Frenchman lake out of Chilcoot.
To get to Frenchman lake from Reno, take 395N, 70W, then take the paved road north to Frenchman lake out of Chilcoot.
For bikers, trail runners, and OHV riders/drivers, this should be a gem (no pun intended). The access roads are in good condition and would be limited to those with very high clearance on the final access road; I have a Ford Escape 4x4 and only found that my clearance was lacking on the final approach road. I will qualify my statement by saying that I've owned two jeeps and have considerable experience on OHV roads; not to say that any experience is required here, but I will say that I was on three wheels in a few places so beware. If you look at my map, the section in yellow does require good clearance; the section in purple requires 4WD and high clearance in one section at least; the difficult spot will be near the top.
GPS tracks and waypoints files for the above:
Garmin GDB file for Adams/Crystal Peaks
Generic GPX file for Adams/Crystal Peaks
Red TapeThere is no red tape for Crystal Peak; the mountain is on NFS land and the OHV roads are marked with no contrary to open use signage posted. There are signs stating "no fires" on the OHV roads so if you decide to camp there, do the forest service a favor and not build a camp fire.
CampingCamping on NFS land is free; there are numerous spots that would make good spots but you'll need to bring your own water and refrain from building camp fires.
Camping at any campgroud on the south side of Frenchman Lake costs $20; it may be a good idea to reserve a spot in advance as we found 90% of the sites had already reserved for weekend usage; we were there mid-week. Sites can be reserved by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at www.ReserveUSA.com.
More information about Frenchman Lake can be found on the Plumas County website.
External LinksPlumas County website
Wiki page on quartz