Scodie Mountain is the high point of the Scodie Mountains, and small range at the south eastern end of the Sierra Nevada just south of Walker Pass. The mountain and the range were named for William Scodie, an early pioneer who settled nearby, and made a living selling provisions to would-be miners and stockmen.
The view northeast from Scodie Mountain
Scodie Mountain makes for a fine half-day outing from several directions. The summit views are every bit as good as its higher and more often-climbed neighbor to the north, Owens Peak. Another attractive attribute of the peak is its relative lack of popularity. The summit register was perhaps half-full in early 2006, with the first entries dating back to 1993. I counted only 25 names in the register for all of 2005.
The lower slopes are covered in sagebrush scrub and Joshua Trees. Above 5-6,500 feet or so, depending on aspect, this gives way to, at times dense
, Piñon pine forest, which blankets the entire range. The rock is typical eastside coarse-grained white granitic rock, which weathers readily into scree. The scree, scrub, and Piñon pine, in order of increasing annoyance factor, are the principle obstacles to any ascent of the peak. Since there are no trails to the summit (the PCT comes closest, but still leaves you with over a mile of cross-country travel) one is obliged to contend with at least two of the three.
But that may be one of the principle charms of this area. It has been largely left alone by human beings. Thus, one is left to one’s own devices in choosing a route. Walking the flanks of the Scodie’s, one can experience quite realistically what the Native Americans and the early white pioneers went through in the quest for food and pursuit of trade.
There are at least three reasonable approaches to this peak, two from Highway 178, and one from the south off dirt roads. The Highway 178 approaches are both in the vicinity of Walker Pass, which is located about 10 miles west of Highway 14. Specifics are described in the Routes section below. The Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Section
provides detailed driving directions to all three trailheads. It is also possible (though rather long) to approach the peak from the south via the PCT. That approach is not described here.
| Cow Heaven Canyon
||A popular way to go. It avoids some of the heavier vegetation by staying on the south slopes. Cow Heaven Canyon is reached via several miles of dirt road off of Hwy 14, a few miles south of Hwy 178. The route name links to the Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Section driving directions and hike description.
|From the northwest via Canebrake Creek
||A mostly cross-country route. The route name links to the Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Section driving directions and hike description.
|From the northwest via PCT
|| Listed by the HPS as an alternate route. Same start as the Canebrake Creek route, but the PCT is followed to within about 1.3 miles and 400 vertical feet of the summit. The route name links to the Sierra Club's Hundred Peaks Section driving directions and hike description.
|From the north
||From the intersection of Hwys 14 and 178 travel west 6.7 mi. to an obscure dirt road on the left (south). Pull in here and park somewhere where you won't block others. The peak is directly south, though you can't see the summit, which is hidden behind a false summit just a couple hundred yards north of the true summit. About 200 yards due east you can see another dirt road (now decommissioned) crossing a wash. This can be of help making progress up the canyon directly south of you. This route is a scree fest from top to bottom. Thick scrub down low and dense stands of Pinon pine up higher provide route finding challenges. Stay in open areas as much as possible. The ridge dropping northeast from the summit area can be followed. It is best to stay on the souteast side of this ridge to avoid the worst of the vegetation.
: Finding the actual location of the summit can be challenging. The true summit is the large, round boulder near the northeast side of the of the summit plateau. A short class 3 scramble gets you to the top.
Scodie Mountain lies in the Sequioa National Forest, and is part of the Kiavah Wilderness
, an area jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the USFS/Sequoia National Forest. Camping is permitted anywhere for up to 14 days, after which you need to move at least 25 miles. No permits or fees are required.
Motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited within the wilderness area. Bummer, no mountain bikes. The wilderness area boundaries are complex, but you can assume a setback of 30' from the centerline of dirt roads, and 300' from paved highways. Please be kind to the desert (and avoid getting a ticket!) by keeping your vehicle within these limits, and use only existing roads and car-camp sites.
For more information you can contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Bureau of Land Management
Ridgecrest Field Office
300 S. Richmond Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Sequoia National Forest
PO Box 9
Kernville, CA 93238
Camping is available at the Walker Pass Campground
operated by the BLM. It is a small CG, but it has water. No fees or reservations.
Scodie Mountain is high enough to get occasional snow in the winter, but low enough for it to melt away fairly quickly. It will be quite hot in the summer time, and there is no water. I found 2 liters sufficient for a hike up the north side in February. Add or subtract from this according to your own patterns and time of year.
For weather info use your favorite on-line forecast service. Conditions for Lake Isabella should be a good indicator for this peak. Just subtract a few degrees for elevation, and assume that it will be windier. The BLM rangers are spread thin in this area. Don't count on them knowing what conditions are like. You probably won't see one, anyway.