Sugar Pine Peak is an obscure knoll at best; a summit so remotely hidden in the back country of the Northern Sierra, that it would most likely disinterest everyone who would even contemplate coming to this rural peak. Everyone except the County Highpointers of America
. For Sugar Pine Peak is the highest peak in Yuba County, which in itself is pretty much a dull county. The purpose of this page is not to achieve any sort of fancy SummitPost status mountain page, but instead just to direct the County Highpointers to the most remote of the California County Highpoints. So please, understand the purpose of the page before you vote. There is virtually nothing on the net about Sugar Pine Peak, so I intend to give Sugar Pine Peak the recognition it deserves. Thank You
Sugar Pine Peak, as mentioned before, is the highest point in Yuba County, and located in Plumas National Forest. The summit actually occupies the county line with neighboring Sierra County. This complicates things a little, because the summit of Sugar Pine is quite flat and broad, and although the county line is indefinite, the east side of the summit is most definitely in Sierra County, and is most definitely higher than the west side of the summit, which is Yuba County. This makes locating the precise highpoint of Yuba County difficult, and from standing up there, I could not tell you where that point is. The important thing is that one can get to the "general highpoint area" and maybe even walk over the highpoint and not even know it. I'm sure the hardcore highpointers can get the coords and GPS their way to it. It has been said there used to be a pinecone cairn (with a register) at the Yuba County Highpoint, yet in August of 2006 I could not locate it. I did find a three foot cylinder of concrete at the highest point on the summit area, yet that also had no register in it. This concrete cylinder was clearly in Sierra County, perhaps a few dozen yards from the Yuba County line. In summary, there's no telling of what you'll find up there on a visit. The hike itself takes a minimum of about 10 minutes, yet one can make it as long as he or she wants. The approach requires a long drive from anywhere, and you must be committed to driving the twisty, remote mountain roads to obtain the peak. It might be nicer to check out some of the stuff in the vicinity (ie. old mining towns, Slate Creek, the "town" of Strawberry Valley). On a completely unrelated topic, the zip code for Strawberry Valley (95981) is one of the poorest (ie, most people living below the poverty line) zip codes in the country. The summit provides no views besides views of trees. The pinecones up there do get to be around 2 feet long, so if you are into pinecones, this is the spot for you. Isolation is also something you'll get with a trip to Sugar Pine Peak, Deliverance
Update 2017: A number of reports mention that Scales Road has been washed out, making vehicular access via that road impossible. There likely seems to be other ways to Sugar Pine Peak (most notably via La Porte and Port Wine Road), but I do not have any information on these approaches. Best to break out the map and find a way yourself!
Here's the fun part. Getting to Sugar Pine Peak is the ultimate challenge for navigators. The true key is to set your odometer on your car when you reach the appropriate spot. This is a must.
If you are coming from Marysville, take Highway 20 east out of town for about 10 miles and make a left onto Marysville Road. Continue on Marysville Rd. until it turns right. At this point, continue straight on Willow Glen Road until it ends on La Porte Road, and make a right onto La Porte. Follow this to Challenge.
If you are coming from Grass Valley area, take highway 49 north out of town. Go through Nevada City and continue on 49. About 5 miles after the town of North San Juan, make a left onto Moonshine Road, just after you cross the Middle Fork Yuba River (not the North Fork, that comes first). Follow Moonshine Road until it ends at Marysville Rd. Make a left and drive over New Bullards Bar dam, and about 1 mile later, make a right onto Oregon Hill Road. Follow this 12 miles to the town of Challenge. Make a left at La Porte Rd.
TOPO! approach map
In Challenge the two routes meet up with each other. Continue north on La Porte Road. Drive through the bustling towns of Woodleaf, Clipper Mills, and Strawberry Valley. In Strawberry Valley, start paying attention for a Scales Road that veers off to the right. The road is easy to miss. The sign has several bullet holes in it, yet it is still visible. Turn right onto Scales. SET YOUR ODOMETER! Follow the paved Scales Road. There are milage markers on the trees every half-mile, yet they seemed to be off to the car odometer. I wouldn't trust them. After 1 mile, the road turns left and starts to descend down into the canyon where Slate Creek is located. Cross Slate Creek on a one lane bridge and the road will bring you out of the canyon. Stay on the pavement until your odometer reads 5.9 miles. Here you'll (hopefully) see a white gravel road head left, signed 21N11. Take the left. Follow this until your odometer reads 9.1 miles. Here there is a 5 way intersection. Head straight through this, staying on the main gravel road. In .4 miles from this, your odometer should read 9.5 miles. Here there is a spur road that heads right. This is signed 21N68Y. If you in a low clearance vehicle, your best bet is to park here and hike from this point. Go right and within a few yards cross a water bar. This is easily passable for high clearance vehicles. Our Kia Sorento barely made it over. Be aware. You wouldn't want to get stuck out here! Continue to drive/hike/bike up this road. In about .3 miles from the start of road 21N68Y, the gravel ends and it turns to dirt. There is a nice large pull out to park. Park here and continue to hike/bike along the road. In about 100 yards, you'll see a faint logging trail that heads north up a steep hill. Hike up this. It is a bit overgrown, so you might have to push past some branches and brush. Within another 100 yards, the road levels out and you are on the summit. Seek out the obvious high point and the concrete cylinder. Marvel at your accomplishment and re-trace your steps to your next destination, where ever that might be.
Very detailed directions are also located here
This is National Forest Land, so you are free to camp where ever, whenever. You do need a campfire permit if you want to light something on fire. You can obtain them
National Forest rules apply here. See the
Plumas NF page for more info.
When to Climb*
*In this case, climb means drive.
It is advisable to drive up to Sugar Pine Peak during the weekend or a holiday, mainly because it's easier to navigate the logging roads when they are logging truck-free.
External LinksA few trip reports