Viva Pinacate!With Scott Casterlin along, drove to the Pinacate Biosphere Reserve and camped at Cono Rojo for the night, then hiked the peak the following morning.
A road offers a good path to follow at first but it continues north away from the peak fairly fast. We left the road after a half-mile and struck out cross-country, aiming for some gentle sloping ridges about a mile and a half distant, generally aiming for where the slopes steepen below Carnegie Peak (Pinacate Peak not yet visible here).
Traveling cross-country forced us over some lava fields which became tedious fast due to the sharp, broken nature of the rock, but we had no issues otherwise and after 90 minutes or so, gaining about 1,000 feet, we re-met the road directly below Carnegie Peak.
The road gains steeply to a saddle on Carnegie's northwest, then dips into a basin below Carnegie and Pinacate. From the end of the road, we followed a fairly solid footpath to the summit, gaining the top via the main northwestern ridge. Parts of the path were steep with loose lava rubble, so we ambled over some more solid rocks here. Otherwise, we had no problem whatsoever...
So what about the road?...Coming down, we decided to follow the road entirely, more out of curiosity. Long story short: it's an extra 3 miles minimum and wanders way to the north of the peaks and Cono Rojo. The Sierra Club DPS guide book has the road being about 5.6 miles to the saddle below Carnegie (from whence it is another 1.5 miles or so to the top).
So, the road works but is very indirect. Cross-country is probably a good idea. The road can be useful at the start and the end, though.
The Reserve charges some reasonable fees now (instead of the "donation"). The roads seem to be graded and looked after a little more, and the signage is very well done, too. They seem to be improving the infrastructure of the park these days.
Full ReportMy trip report with more photos:
Pinacate Peak, 1/6/09