Peakbagging Pictures, Part One

I’ve been pretty bad about updating pictures and other anecdotes of my various adventures here (and elsewhere). I’m not quite sure I can get up-to-date by the end of the year, especially as hopefully I’m not done going outside for the year, Camp Fire smoke aside. But I’ll see what I can do.

Below the fold, here’s some stuff from the first seven months of 2015.


Mt. Davidson (925+’)
Highest and most prominent point of San Francisco, CA
24 May 2015


This was the first county high point I visited because it was a county high point. I discovered the County Highpointers site a week or so earlier, after a spur-of-the-moment trip up Mt. Hamilton revealed (by inspection) that the observatories did not in fact mark the highest point of Santa Clara County.

Mt. Davidson is tucked away in a nice little San Francisco city park. It’s insulated enough from the surrounding streets that it feels less ultra-urban than, say, Twin Peaks. I didn’t get to enjoy much of a view because of the fog.


Carpenter Hill (828′)
Highest and most prominent point of Sacramento County, CA
28 May 2015

Carpenter Hill is notoriously the easiest (and lowest) county high point in California. Tucked away behind a Folsom subdivision and easily visible from Highway 50 below, it’s a quick trek to nearby radio towers.


Mt. Tamalpais, East 2x (2572′)
11 June 2015

At the time, the east peak of Mt. Tamalpais was believed to be the Marin County high point. (Subsequently, it was determined that the west peak was about four feet higher.) This was the first time I had been up to the top since 1999. Miss you, dad.

I stopped by the Mountain Theatre on the way down because why not. I used to go up here all the time as a kid for the monthly astronomy lecture.


Mount St. Helena, East (4200+’)
Highest point of Napa County, CA
Mount St. Helena
Highest point of Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and the SF Bay Area watershed
11 June 2015

I wasn’t satisfied with just Mt. Tamalpais today, so after a quick stop in Novato to check the County Highpointers website I headed up to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park for the Napa County high point. This is what is colloquially known as a “liner”—it’s right on the county line between Sonoma and Napa (and a little bit of the trail actually touches Lake), which is how you get a county high point that’s not the highest peak on its own mountain. To get there, you take the Stevenson Memorial Trail, which is a fun mile or so of woods and then a less-fun four miles of fire road that I extremely underestimated the necessary amount of water for. There’s a little branch trail that takes you to the high point subpeak and the associated KGO radar facility. (I just photographed the tree that looked to be on the highest point.) After tagging the high point, I then went up to the main peak of Mt. St. Helena, which is marked by more radio towers and a marker commemorating an 1800s Russian expedition. I managed to get back to my car right at sunset.


San Bruno Mountain (1314′)
Most prominent point of San Mateo County, CA
15 June 2015


A foggy birthday hike. Frustratingly, the actual high point is a bit off the trail next to one of the communications towers that tops the peak. I need to come back here at some point when there’s actual visibility.


Mt. Hamilton 2x (4213′)
Copernicus Peak (4360+’)
Highest and most prominent point of Santa Clara County, CA
4 July 2015

I drove up to the Lick Observatory parking lot atop Mt. Hamilton, then walked over to Copernicus Peak and climbed it. Afterwards I checked out the telescopes and exhibits at the Lick Observatory.


Mt. Diablo (3849′)
Highest and most prominent point of Contra Costa County, CA
Mt. Diablo, North (3557′)
9 July 2015

For some reason I had never been to Mt. Diablo State Park as a kid. Today was a good day to fix that, especially as it was a fairly mild day for summer. Amusingly, the actual highest ground on Mt. Diablo is inside the visitor center—it’s built so there’s a bit of exposed ground that you can touch. I wasn’t content to just drive up to the visitor center, however, so I then hiked over to the less-visited North Peak. Although marred by communications towers it was a fun hike that I’d recommend.


Mission Peak (2517′)
13 July 2015

I first hiked up the popular East Bay destination of Mission Peak a few days after Mt. Diablo. It’s a bit crowded for my tastes, especially via the Hidden Valley Trail, but the views at the top are certainly excellent. I don’t appear to have taken any pictures, however.


Windy Hill (1930′)
Borel Hill (2572′)
Twin Peaks, North Peak (900+’)
Twin Peaks (922′)
24 July 2015

I was out of low-hanging county high points by this time and was on the hunt for more to climb that weren’t necessarily county high points. That’s when I discovered the California Coastal peak list. This list is rather sketchily edited and contains a bunch of peaks that are on private property. But at the time it was the only notable subjective peak list that covered the Bay Area. The “CC” list, as I usually abbreviate it, contains five peaks in San Mateo County. I had already been up San Bruno Mountain, and Scarper Peak was listed as being on private property. That left Borel Hill, Montara Mountain, and Windy Hill. As Borel and Windy are quite close to each other off of Skyline Boulevard, I decided that would make a nice quick outing today.

In fact, it ended up being a bit quicker than I was in the mood for. There are two CC-listed peaks in San Francisco County: Mt. Davidson, which I had of course ascended in May, and the higher of Twin Peaks. So I drove up to the city and hit up Twin Peaks.

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