Corral Ridge • Highpoint: Calaveras County

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Date: August 11, 2000 • Elevation: 8,170 feet • Prominence: 210 feet • Distance: 6 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 600 feet • Conditions: Pleasant

Corral Ridge is barely a hill with little prominence, but it is the highest point of Calaveras County. The hill is located in the high foothills of the Sierra Nevada, at the far east end of the county. Earlier today, I had hiked Thunder Mountain, the Amador County highpoint. That peak is just a dozen miles away as the crow flies. However, as the truck drives, it's closer to 100 miles.

From Thunder Mountain, I drove through the small town of Markleeville and got onto westbound state route CA-4, which gains very steeply up the mountainside. The road is paved but is often just a lane wide, and at times has grades as steep as 24%, with some segments at a maintained grade of 15%. I drove this slowly and was happy to get past it.

The access to Corral Ridge is on the north side of CA-4 about a thousand feet inside Alpine county. It's not an obvious turnoff, and I passed it once. The road in is rough. I put my truck into 4-wheel drive but grew weary after only a half-mile on the road. There are lots of rounded rocks to negotiate and I just didn't want to bang up my truck on these rocks. I found a pullout and parked, and set in on foot. It was 6 p.m. and I was still 3 miles from the summit. I walked fast and hoped I would be out by dark.

For the first 1.5 miles, the gain was minimal. I came out into a meadow and was met by barking dogs belonging to a camping group in the area. In this meadow, the road becomes significantly steeper and sandier. After this rise I came to a saddle and a junction in the road. Here, I made a wrong turn. I continued straight but realized (by my shadow) I was traveling east and not west as I should be at this point, so I turned and resumed on the correct trail. After more uphill sections I came to a barbed-wire fence, passed it, hiked in the trees briefly, and finally came out into the open, where I could see the flattish summit about a half-mile to the north.

I hiked cross-country to the top, staying near the cliff edge. It wasn't much of a problem except for a profusion of plants with little burrs that caught my clothing. I achieved the rocky and flat summit area at 7:15 p.m., and found the biggest rock and stood atop it. I didn't stay long as I wanted to get hiking out while it was still light.

I retraced my route, got barked at again by the same dogs and was back to my truck at 8 p.m. My socks and my shoelaces were covered completely in these burrs. The socks were goners. Getting them off my shoelaces was easier. I had some caught in my hairy legs, too.

I bashed my way back to the highway and drove west about 40 miles to the town of Arnold and got a hotel. The next day I visited the towns of Angels Camp and Sonora, then drove back up and over the Sierra Nevada via Sonora Pass (CA-108). I intended to camp here and hike another peak, but after three days and six peaks, I was done with hiking and simply continued down the other side.

My dad had agreed to drive up to Tonopah, Nevada, so I drove there and met him late in the day. The next day, we drove east on US-6 to the Kawich and Reveille Mountains to explore the areas. My dad liked to hunt in the Kawich Range, so we scouted trails here for a few hours. We also explored an old ghost town that still had big mining apparati standing after all these years.

We were not far north of the sprawling Nevada Test Range, home to famous Area 51. We drove a good dirt road south to about a mile north of the boundary. We could see buildings off in the distance. The road was dusty and our dust cloud was impossible to miss. We weren't trying to be sneaky, and we had no intention to get near the boundary fence. The signs out here make it clear what "authorized force" will be used if you get too close. The other highlight was my dad shot a hare from about 100 feet away.

(c) 2000, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.