Colusa County High Point Trip Report

Snow Mountain East

Date: November 12, 2001
Author: Peter Maurer

Snow Mountain lived up to its name, as we were hit by the first winter storm of the season. The day started out blustery, but we decided to attempt the hike anyway. As we headed across the Sacramento Valley for the Coast Range, the storm front hit, but since we had nothing else to do, we continued the drive. Actually accessing the trail head was more arduous than the hike, with several hours of twisting roads through one of the more remote regions of California.

We finally reached the trailhead just as the storm seemed to be abating, so we decided to attempt the hike, despite a ranger's warning that snow was likely above 5500 feet. The first half mile was rather open, after leaving a black oak grove, with good views of the central valley, but then the clouds lowered and the best visibility for the rest of the trip was about 50 - 75 yards.

A light rain started to fall, turning to sleet at about 6000 feet. At that elevation we began to see snow on the ground. Soon there was an inch or two covering the trail, although for the most part it was still discernible. In good weather the trail would be readily apparent and well marked, except where a part of the 25,000 acre Trough fire burned through last summer, which must have destroyed a couple of trail signs.

We made it to the saddle and split between the west and east peaks without much difficulty, then the trail became really obscured by blowing snow and very limited visibility. Fortunately, the ascent is quite gradual and we made it to the summit rock outcrop with only a minimum of wandering. Took the obligatory walk 20 yards to the south to ensure we hit the Colusa County highpoint, just as the snow began to fall in earnest, with the wind picking up. A quick descent followed, with snow level dropping to about 5500 feet, just above the trailhead.

An interesting adventure, but I'd recommend the hike in early summer, or earlier in the fall. Also note, the access road leads through a huge off-road vehicle recreation area (most of which was affected by the fire) so watch for ORV's on the access road. Fortunately, the trail and peak are both within the wilderness area, so some peace and quite can be attained.