South Yolla Bolly is normally approached from I-5. You can get there from the coast but you have to work at it and I would recommend you buy a map before you try it.
Take the Corning exit on I-5 that is the same as the world famous Olive Pit exit. Instead of heading east into town, head west towards the mountians. This road A9 goes directly to Paskenta through Flourney. In Paskenta you want to find the paved road M2 that goes to the Cold Spring Guard Station. There aren’t many roads in Paskenta so you are sure to find the correct road. Turn right on M2.
Follow M2 for 25 miles to the Cold Spring Guard Station. The first 19 miles are paved and then it is a high speed gravel road. At the Guard Station turn right on road M22. This gravel road is still high speed and follow this road about 9 more miles to road 25N19 that is signed for the Ides Cove Trail. Follow 25N19 for 2.2 miles up past the pack station parking to the backpackers parking. This last .5 mile is a little rough, but there was a 2WD car parked at the trailhead, so it isn’t that bad.
This is a great cross country hike without any bushwhacking. The South Yolla Bolly Mountain trailhead is at about 6,700 feet in elevation. The trail is marked and is easy to find on the west side of the parking area. Walk down the trail about 50 feet and there is a fork in the trail.
The left fork goes up some railroad ties that the forest service placed for steps and goes to Ides Cove. It then continues around the south side of South Yolla Bolly Mountain to the west ridge and continues into the Wilderness.
The right fork goes to Square Lake and then Long Lake. It then continues around the north side of South Yolla Bolly Mountain to the west ridge where it meets up with the trail coming from Ides Cove.
Take either of these trails if you want to walk all the way around the mountain. Neither one goes to the summit of South Yolla Bolly.
To get to the summit, go right between the 2 trails and head cross country through the trees and up the ridgeline heading due west. The ridgeline here is very wide and easy to follow. Just pick the easiest route around the few trees and bushes and head uphill. As you ascend the ridge you will have to bypass a few large rock outcroppings, but there is nothing difficult in finding a route.
Up to about 7,300 feet favor staying on the north side of the ridge. After you bypass a big rock on the ridge at 7,300 feet, favor staying on the south side of the ridge. The north side up high has been glaciated and is steep in places. The ridge itself is very wide and easy to walk on.
Continue up the ridge until you reach the summit. The higher you climb the more you will be able to see. North Yolla Bolly lies off to the north. Mt. Shasta lies to the northeast. The Trinity Alps lies to the north also. The Pacific Ocean may be visible on a perfect day, otherwise the marine layer of clouds is visible to the west.
I believe the south, west, and north ridges of South Yolla Bolly Mountain can all be used to get to the summit without much difficulty.
Stats: Round Trip is about 2.6 miles with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. Allow 2 hours for this hike.
Sunscreen, water, food, comfortable hiking shoes, and the 10 essentials are all that is required. This area can be very warm in the summer, so be prepared.
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