Amador County High Point Trip Report

Thunder Mountain (East Peak)

Date: August 11, 2000
Author: Peter Maurer

This was my second attempt to bag Amador County, missing the true highpoint by a mere 2 feet on a previous ascent one month earlier. Thunder Mountain has two summits, the west summit being 9408', and the east summit 9410'. Unfortunately, the well-maintained USFS trail leads the hiker to the west summit, and although it provides a spectacular view of Silver Lake, numerous other Tahoe-area peaks, and on down towards the Sacramento Valley, it wasn't until after I got back to the car and re-checked the topo map that I realized I had missed the actual highpoint.

On my second ascent, I met with another highpointer, Scott Surgent of Arizona, who had made the same mistake as I, so he turned around and climbed back up the last half mile to the east summit, which is only a few hundred yards off the trail to the west peak.

The route takes you up along Panther Ridge, overlooking the Kirkwood Ski Resort. After you reach a saddle, the whole summit opens up to view, with both peaks visible. The trail drops down, then switchbacks up to a notch in the ridge of volcanic rock. Once past this notch, the trail dips down again. Look for a little-used trail to your right, which leads to the highpoint. The nondescript rock outcrop which is the summit is only a few hundred yards from this point. The main trail continues on for another 1-1/2 mile to the west summit, which is worth the hike, even if it's not the true highpoint.