Loma Prieta Trip Report

Loma Prieta (3,786 ft)

Date: December 4, 2005

Note: All NAD27 UTM coordinates are in zone 10S.

This was a side-trip performed during a visit to my brother in Monterey. Access is from the west via Loma Prieta Summit Road. Here are explicit directions for ascending this peak on the California Fifty Finest list of prominent peaks.

From Santa Cruz drive north roughly ten miles on Highway 17 to a saddle with an exit as Summit Road. The highway is divided for several miles, with no means of either exiting at Summit Road driving south (from Los Gatos); nor a means of turning left (south) back onto Highway 17 from Summit Road after the ascent. Thereby you can only get to Summit Road from Santa Cruz - not from Los Gatos. In turn you can only get to Los Gatos once finished with the ascent - not Santa Cruz.

Zero your odometer at the Summit Road exit and drive east on Summit Road for 9.4 miles to a saddle with a "Y"-shaped junction. The road is renamed Mount Bache after about five miles; and then Loma Prieta Road (or Loma Prieta Summit Road) after an additional several-tenths of a mile. Private homes line the road for all but the final couple of miles, and there is no place to park until the indicated saddle at (602631 E, 4106058 N) and roughly 3,080 feet elevation.

Note the "No trespassing" sign at the entrance to the left road fork leading east, then north, up the mountain. It is trivial to walk the road - hence the rationale for parking where indicated rather than farther along the route. After some perhaps two-thirds mile and 300 feet of elevation gain arrive at a second saddle at (602461 E, 4106988 N). Some peakbaggers have parked here.

At this saddle there is a road leading due east; a road leading northeast that climbs the southern flank of the mountain; and a road leading north. The "middle" road leading northeast is taken.

Being full of energy I decided to hike a delapidated path, likely once a steeply inclined jeep track, from the saddle to near the summit. This path is recognizable as the obvious break in the brush located north of the "middle road"; and climbs at a significant gradient to the summit road within 100-150 vertical feet of the summit.

If you opt instead for walking the road, you should take the left fork of a junction at (602964 E, 4107427 N). You will shortly encounter the same point in the road that I reached upon completing the jeep trail portion of my ascent at (602644 E, 4107303 N) and 3,650 feet elevation.

Walk the final 100+ vertical feet and arrive at the summit complex of electronic equipment, housed in several facilities that are rendered inaccessible by high fences with "No trespassing" signs. Fortunately the highest natural point is located outside of any fenced-off compound.

Views were expansive on my Sunday afternoon. The cities of Santa Cruz and Salinas were obvious, as was Monterey Bay and what I guess must be Cone Peak to the south. Northward were seen downtown skyscrapers of San Francisco and Oakland, albeit as conglomerated masses of artificial "peaks" rather than as individual "summits" owing to the great distances. Mount Tamalpais formed the ridge just north of San Francisco and across the famous bay. The Golden Gate bridge was either invisible or too faint at distance to be resolved.

The hike consumed thirty minutes on ascent and about twenty minutes on descent - the latter being quite short from having run partway down the approach road after reaching the second saddle.

I had driven from San Diego to visit my brother, the price of flying plus car rental being excessive in comparison to the now declining gasoline prices. Even with account of my truck's life-cycle cost (maintainance, insurance, depreciation, etc...) it turns out that driving was cheaper by a considerable margin.

The round-trip distance was 1,024.7 "Adam truck miles" - including about 130 miles round-trip from Monterey to Loma Prieta. An Adam truck mile is defined by the truck's odometer, and is perhaps one-sixtieth more than a standard, statute mile.