We headed off from Grandma's House in Orangevale, CA at 4:30 am or so and first tackled Thunder Mountain atop Kirkwood Ski Resort (CA Amador County Highpoint), with my two adventurous daughters in tow. Beautiful drive. After taking a dip in Silver Lake on Thunder's backside after that hike, we drove to Bear Valley to take on Calaveras.
The Intel I had for Corral Ridge (CA Calaveras County Highpoint) appeared to be outdated, but we did make it up to the top in time to get back down for a swim in Alpine Lake before turning for home.
Here are my observations regarding the Corral Ridge Hike which you may find helpful:
- The trailhead information in Suttle's book and SummitPost were right on. So off we went on the Jeep Trail.
- The junction mentioned by Suttle at 1.3 miles was there but was very faint, barely noticeable. Two markers indicated it's location. If they weren't there I would not have seen it. You pass by that option and keep going on the main trail (jeep road). I measured that "trail" to be at about 1.4 - 1.5 miles from the trailhead, rather than the 1.3 mentioned.
- At the top of the ridge, there was a 3-way junction, rather than the 4-way mentioned in Suttle's book.
- From that intersection I would suggest following my directions. Suttle's directions are keyed off of some gray tree snags, which I didn't see, and a Wire Gate, which is no longer there.
- Continue up the Jeep Road to the West-ish and uphill from the 3-way intersection at the top of the ridge. Just stay on the road. After 14 minutes of briskly-paced hiking, you will come to a second turn out area on the right with a fire ring close to the cliff edge. There is another fire ring by the 3-way intersection I noticed on the way back down, and another turn out area with fire ring(s) before this second area I'm referring to. Both turn outs are to the right as you ascend the jeep trail, now on the ridge. The second and higher turn out is to the right just at the jeep road starts to top out. If you go much further it will flatten and begin to descend. Walk out to the fire ring for a fine view and to reconnoiter. From the fire ring, the bottom of the chair lift power house across the valley is barley visible through the trees at 58 degrees NE bearing and the Summit Rock, your goal, is at a bearing of 318 degrees NW off to your left as you look out into the valley.
- Form this second turn out at the fire ring you will be just on the cliff's edge and be able to see Corral Ridge off to your left. I suggest that you basically just hug the ridge heading up to the "obviously volcanic" summit outcropping, keeping it in view as you go. It isn't that far.
- This is what we did. As we did so we found something both reassuring and interesting. Someone has laid out a path of Barbed Wire from just outside the turn out area on up to the summit - a yellow brick road of sorts. I imagine that this was constructed of left over materials from the infamous "Wire Gate" which we were never able to find, and caused a significant loss of time for us. This barbed wire path disjointedly marks the way to Corral Ridge and the Summit. We found no register, benchmark, or any other marking or indications there.
- From the Summit Rock, the ski lift power station or base of the lift will be across the valley off to the right at a bearing of 83 degrees. I suspect that lift is Bear Valley's Grizzly Lift but we could quite make it out.
- It took us 1:55 to summit and 1:15 to get back down to the car. Elevation gained in the decent was just 56 feet. I accidentally zapped the elevation gained figure for the ascent but I believe it was higher than the expected 1,070'. More like 1,200.
- My AllTrails App indicated a total roundtrip distance of 7.2 miles.
From there it was over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother's House we went... for a well deserved sleep, arriving around 11:00 pm. I had planned to soldier on to a third Highpoint in Alpine County (Sonora Peak) but it wasn't in the cards (9 hours and 6 minutes was required just in driving time). Could you do it? Yes, likely so -- as long as you hike faster than I do (not hard), choose a long Summer Day, skip or shorten the swims, and start at one of the trailheads the night before, instead of at your Grandmother's house.
Happy hiking everyone. I hope this helps you conquer Calaveras County!
After climbing Reynolds Peak stopped to hike this one on the drive home. Started at 3:30 and descended by headlamp. Visited all 3 competing high points. Didn't see another person the entire trip. TR is HERE.
Hot and dusty warmup on my way up Carson Pass to tag Amador County highpoint later in the day.
Hiked up the off-road vehicle trail. Was dusty. Jogged the entire way back-down. There was no register to be seen anywhere.
Nice winter snowshoe outing up the ridge to the highpoints.
Snowshoe through the woods. The end of the ridge has good views across the Mokelumne River Canyon.
Snowshoe hike through lots of fresh snow to tag the county highpoint. Trip Report
Sorry, I couldn't help thinking about the story about the "famous jumping frogs of Calaveras county" when I did this one. I used both Suttle's book and the trip reports found at cohp.org to find the three highpoint candidates. I found a register at a large cairn in the forested area which had a sheet of paper in it signed by many other county highpointers that I knew. I'll post a pic of this page.
Nice easy hike with Bryan G. We could have driven most of the way to the summit but it was a good hike anyway.