Update September 2006. Ther are forest fires south and north of this area that may spoil the scenery at this time. Use caution and check with the forest service before entering the area. The Hobo Gulch area has been evacuated.
Thurston Peaks are in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area in northwest California. The Trinity Alps Wilderness covers 517,000 acres and is laced with hundreds of miles of good trails. Unfortunately, none of them go to the summit of Thurston Peak. Thurston Peaks are located in the southern part of the vast Trinity Alps Wilderness. The main focus of the Trinity Alps Wilderness is to the north and centered on Thompson Peak
. The Thurston Peaks are south of that picturesque area.
Thurston Peak is listed at #152 on the California Prominence
list with 2,052 ft of prominence. This peak doesn’t get much attention because of its lofty neighbors in northern California and the more scenic areas in the Trinity Alps Wilderness attracting hikers. The Thurston Peaks are located at the northern end of an area labeled Limestone Ridge on the topo’s. Thurston Peak is the highest of these peaks and is at the northern end of the Thurston Peaks.
The surrounding area is heavily forested, but the Thurston Peaks reach out of the forest and the top 1,000 ft of the peaks stand out as rocky summits.
My first attempt at climbing Thurston Peak was aborted because of an impassable brushy area. That hike started at Hobo Camp and I do not recommend that approach.
My second attempt, started from Hwy 299 that connects Redding to Eureka on the California coast. This is a beautiful drive along the Trinity River and through Weaverville. Continue west bound on Hwy 299 to the little settlement of Big Bar. There is a ranger station on Hwy 299 in Big Bar and 5.1 miles west of the ranger station is a gravel forest road marked as 5N13.
Turn onto 5N13 and head north. There is a sign at the beginning of the road that says Green Mountain Trailhead 13 miles. That is your destination. Follow this road that any 2WD car can drive. 12.2 miles from Hwy 299 there is a little road to the right with a down sign indicating Green Mountain Trailhead is up that road. The trailhead is up that road but a down tree blocks the road about 100ft from the turn off. Continue straight ahead. At 13.5 miles from Hwy 299 the road ends in a big clearing and a nice camping spot.
On the right side of this clearing is a small road marked 6N19. Head up this road. It is a little rougher and steeper than the road you have been on, but as long as it is dry, you shouldn’t have any problem. Take this road .8 mile to the marked Green Mountain Trailhead on the left. Elevation of the trailhead is 5,130ft.
No Red Tape here. No permits required unless you want to have an open campfire. If you do, stop at the ranger station in Big Bar and get the free camp fire permit.
Big Bar Ranger Station
The Trinity River along Hwy 299 is lined with camp grounds for 100 miles. This is really a beautiful area and while you are in the area you can fish or raft on the Trinity River. The following link will take you to some of the National Forest camping info.
Big Bar Ranger Station
I car camped in an undeveloped nice area at the end of the road 5N13.
If you want to backpack on this hike, there are areas to camp. Refer to your topo of the area to locate these place names along the trail. Brushy Mountain has a nice place near the trail. Green Mountain, Stove Camp, Ladder Camp, and Hangar’s Roost Camp, are all excellent sites for backpacking. Stove Camp and Hangar’s Roost are the only one with water nearby.
When To Climb
This is a summer/fall climb. After the snow melts and before it falls again. You will not be able to get anywhere near this peak in the winter unless you spend several days winter camping.
It can be quite warm in the summer in this area. The following link is for Weaverville California.
Be sure to check with the forest service for forest fire information as well.