Jordan Peak is located in the Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument just to the north of Camp Nelson. It is the site of one of 8 manned fire lookouts on the Forest. The hike to the top of the peak from the closest trailhead is short (3/4 mile) and at times steep (just enough to get your heart rate going) but the view from the top is outstanding! You can see northward towards Dennison Peak, Moses Mountain, Maggie Mountain, Vandever Mountain and the other peaks near Mineral King. Looking east you can see all the way to Olancha Peak! Looking south you can see Slate Mountain and Mule Peak. Looking westward and on a clear day you can see all the way to the coast range of California. During the summer months (June through October, weather depending) the fire lookout may let you up into the tower and show you what his/her job is all about.
You may also want to hike to McIntyre Rock which is south of Jordan Peak. It's an easy Class 1 to get to the top but there are some Class 4 & 5 pitches available on the steep south face. McIntyre Rock is just off of the Hossack Trail 31E24.
Click here to find links to 6 webcams pointed in different directions from Jordan Peak.
From Porterville take Hwy 190 about 42 miles east to the North Road (21S50). The North Road turnoff is just before Quaking Aspen Campground. Turn left (north) on the North Road and follow it about 8 miles to the Jordan Road (20S71). Turn left (west) on this road and follow it one mile until you reach a small turn-around area. The trail is signed and is labeled as 31E35 on the Forest Service map. It is 3/4 mile long and climbs about 500 feet. It starts off by switchbacking through a shady red fir forest but eventually you will rise above the trees and make your way around some rocky areas to the lookout. This is a beautiful hike to do in June and early July for seeing wildflowers.
The North Road is paved most of the way but turns to dirt before the Jordan Road. The Jordan Road is unpaved and may be rough in spots. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended.
An alternate approach is from Redwood Drive. Take Hwy 190 east of Porterville and go about 32 miles. About 5 miles past Camp Nelson turn left on Redwood Drive and go about 8 miles to Forest Service Road 20S08. Turn right on this unpaved road (high clearance and 4wd recommended) and go to the end of the road to the start of Trail 31E24.
Most Forest Service roads are closed by Nov. 15 and reopened late May or early June, depending on weather.
No permits or fees to hike to Jordan Peak. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics when you visit this area. Be sure and carry water with you as no water is available along the way or at the lookout.
Upon reaching the lookout, a sign may be posted that will inform you if the lookout is open for public visitation. A Forest Service employee resides at the Jordan Peak Lookout tower. It is utilized as an office as well as the home for the summer months while the lookout is on duty. This person is responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio messages to a dispatcher, who in turn sends firefighters and support equipment to extinguish the reported fire. The employee is usually on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Tuesday, but may have the lookout closed due to fires or repair work. If the sign says open, you are welcome to visit the lookout, talk with the Forest Service employee, and enjoy the view, which is spectacular.
No more than 4 – 5 people are recommended on the lookout at a time, as there is very little space. Please sign the daily log so we know you have been there. The lookout has just a couple of simple rules for safety; please do not sit on the catwalk railing or lean against any part of the building, particularly the windows or smudge them. The lookout needs a clean, unobstructed view at all times. The windows are very fragile and break easily.
When To Climb
Most people climb Jordan Peak in the summer or fall. I haven't heard of anyone climbing it in the wintertime. It would be a much longer trek then as the North Road closes usually by mid- to late- November. It is usually closed until at least Memorial Day weekend and sometimes into June or July.
Update: ksullnh has this to say about climbing Jordan Peak in the wintertime... "Jordan Peak's North face is a great spot for late-season (April/May) backcountry skiing via the Redwood Drive approach Sequoia lists. About 3.5 or 4 miles, 1.5 - 2 hours up."
The trailhead for the Jordan Peak Trail, Olancha Peak can be seen in the distance
The nearest developed campground is Quaking Aspen. It is popular in the summer months. The cost to stay here is $15 and $16-17 on holiday weekends. Reservations are recommended, call (877) 444-6777 or make reservations online at ReserveUSA . The fee is $9 to make a reservation. There are group campsites available at QA as well.
My favorite campsites at Quaking Aspen are #19 and #21.
Dispersed camping is also allowed in most areas of the surrounding Sequoia National Forest unless otherwise signed. Remember to bring your own water, don't drive off road, pack out what you pack in, and you'll need a campfire permit if you plan on having a campfire or charcoal barbeque.
If you don't feel like roughing it, there is a cabin at Quaking Aspen. Click here for more information. Accomodations are also available at the nearby Ponderosa Lodge (559) 542-2579, Mountain Top Bed and Breakfast (559) 542-2639, or Pierpoint Springs Resort (559) 542-2423.
Call or stop by the Springville Ranger Station (559) 539-2607, 32588 Hwy 190, Springville, CA
A Sequoia National Forest Map can be purchased for $6.50 and campfire permits can be obtained here.
Leashed pets are allowed on trails in Sequoia National Forest. The trails in this area are popular with mountain bikers. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on trails in Giant Sequoia National Monument.
Areas along the North Road are popular with deer and bear hunters, so during the fall hunting season, it is recommended that you wear orange, stick to trails, and don't hike alone.
Jordan Peak has the distinction of quite possibly being the oldest lookout site on the Sequoia National Forest. The current lookout building was constructed in 1934 and all of the materials were hauled in by horses and mules. The 20 foot steel tower originally had open bracing to support it, but in 1970, the tower was enclosed with metal siding.
Several giant sequoia groves are visible from high above from Jordan Peak. For those tree-lovers like me, see if you can spot them! Giant sequoias can be discerned from the surrounding trees because they are taller, have dense foliage, and are rounded on their tops.