Carpenter Hill • Highpoint: Sacramento County
• Highpoint: City of Folsom

Beth visits the highpoint rocks

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Date: (1) December 18, 2001; (2) July 28, 2005 • Elevation: 828 feet • Prominence: 178 feet • Distance: 1.5 miles (2001); a few yards (2005) • Time: 30 minutes (2001); 5 minutes (2005) • Gain: 250 feet (2001); 30 feet (2005) • Conditions: Meh • Teammates: Beth in 2005

Carpenter Hill is the lowest highpoint of the 58 counties in California, just 828 feet above sea level. No sane person would hike this for its physical merits alone. But because it's the highpoint of Sacramento County, suddenly it's a very important "peak".

The hill itself is just a boring little mound in the city of Folsom, on the county's eastern parts along US-50. It is the first dinky little hill that eventually leads to more substantial foothills that eventually become the mighty Sierra Nevada way to the east. I've been here twice, once in 2001 when it was still undeveloped, and again with Beth in 2005 after all sorts of homes had been built nearby it.

First visit, December 2001: I was travelling to the Bay Area for a few county highpoints plus a visit with my sister. I had driven from Phoenix to my brother's place in Southern California the previous day, then endured the incredibly dull 300-mile long Interstate-5 to get myself into Sacramento, just in time for late-day rush hour traffic. From "the 5", I took US-50 east for 20 miles, exiting at the Scott Road/Bidwell Road offramp.

I found the hill with no difficulty. It was a lonely, unkempt mound of grass-covered dirt. However, land graders and other big machinery things were all over the place, carving up the land for future homes. I parked at the end of Broadstone Parkway, and asked a couple construction guys if it was okay to park here. Since they were going home for the day, they did not object.

From my truck, Carpenter Hill was three-quarters of a mile away, but signs in the area said "no trespassing". I went in anyway. A recent rain made the roads muddy and the grass slick, but I was at the top in 15 minutes. I found rockpiles and the benchmark, plus beer cans and burger wrappers. I tagged the top rock then returned to my truck, a total round trip of about 35 minutes. There was nothing memorable about this hike.

I snacked at a McDonalds in town, then battled traffic to Davis, where I stayed with family friends for the night, and caught up on old times. I couldn't see myself coming back ever again, but I did, with Beth.

Second visit, July 2005: Beth and I were wrapping up five days in northern California, visiting family and hiking peaks in the coast ranges. Our flight home eas late in the day, so we stayed in a cheap hotel near Sacramento, then spent today touring Sacramento. We were close to the Sacramento County highpoint anyway, and I was curious to see how much it had changed since my visit in 2001.

We exited US-50 at Bidwell Road and went north to Iron Point Road. The highpoint hill is visible, and had been heavily developed, with new homes everywhere. Access would not be so open as it was in 2001. We drove Iron Point Road and circled around the hill's south side. We drove onto a couple of residential roads and got as far as a cul-de-sac that was just below the radio towers and fencing on top the hill. However, it didn't appear we could get to there without crossing private yards.

This time, we followed Serpa Road to Caversham Road to its end, which put us below the towers. We found an open gate at the bend in Caversham Road and drove up a couple hundred feet to the top. This appaently is the lone access road to the hilltop. A city worker was "hiding", eating his lunch, and he didn't mind us being there. Beth got out and tagged the highpoint rocks, as did I, and that was all there was to this excursion. We celebrated with a lunch and coffee down below at the new shopping center at Broadstone and Bidwell before returning to the airport for our flight home.

Future visitors may not find the gate we took open, but it does appear that access might be possible from the south along Iron Point Road since it does not appear that they'll be building homes on that slope at all (too steep). I've been there twice now and probably won't go back for a third.

(c) 2001, 2005, 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.