Spanish Mountain, Three Sisters
By: Greg Roach
Spanish Mountain and Three Sisters are two fun peaks in the Western Sierra. They make good spring time dayhikes with a car camp. There are beautiful views of the Sierra Crest from a different perspective than usually seen from the east.
Both of these peaks take a little navigation skill because one is traveling in thick forest most of the way. The topo map for Spanish Mountain is Rough Spur 7.5 min. (Tehipite Dome 15 min.). The 15 min. map does not show the four-wheel-drive road we hiked up. However, it does show a trail going up Rodgers Ridge and over to Spanish Mountain which is the way we went.
A group of peakbaggers met Saturday morning at the Crown Valley Trail head south of Wishon Reservoir. There is plenty of space to spend the night directly across the road from the trail head. This is a good place to meet. Due to spring run off we decided to keep our feet dry and take the four-wheel-drive road that climbs the ridge south of Rancheria Creek. Drive down the road about 3/4 of a mile from the Crown Valley Trail head and the four-wheel-drive road meets the paved road just past the Rancheria Creek Bridge on your left. On the right side of the road are good places to camp after your peak climb.
The four-wheel-drive road was a pleasant walk through the forest. At the 8600 foot level there is a trail that leads of to Garlic Meadow. (We came back from the peak this way - it was a little bit muddy. The meadow was in full spring run off). We continued up the road/trail through patches of snow to the bump just northeast of Garlic Meadow elevation 9080 on the 7.5 min. map ( 9040 on the 15 min. map). We walked down the southeast side of bump 9080 to where the road turned north heading down into Spanish Lakes. This is where the 7.5 min map shows the four-wheel-drive road ending. Here we left the road and hiked up Rodgers Ridge past point 9379 on the 7.5 min, map (9368 on the 15 min. map) just above the word RODGERS. The I5 min. map shows a trail going up the ridge here past 9368 and over to Spanish Mountain. That is just the way we went up Rodgers Ridge and over to Spanish Mountain. It worked fine. There were good views on Rodgers Ridge and even four-wheel-drive tracks on part of it. We reached the snow-covered Spanish Mountain just in time for lunch. Total time one way about 5 hours, distance 8 miles, elevation gain 3500 ft. We camped that night directly across the road from the four-wheel-drive road.
Sunday morning we were up early and on our way to Courtright Reservoir. Courtright Reservoir is about 17 miles from where we camped. The Trail head for Three Sisters is located just past the Trapper Springs Campground on the west side of the Reservoir. The trail to Cliff Lake is the one we started out on. The topo maps needed are Dogtooth Peak and Ward Mtn. 7.5 min (Huntington Lake and Blackcap Mtn. 15 min. maps). Use the 7.5 minute maps - the 15 minute maps are a bit dated. After about a mile the trail comes down to the shore of Courtright Reservoir and then heads east along the stream originating at Cliff Lake. The trail crosses the stream a little ways past the reservoir and then stays on the north side of the stream. The only problem with this route is that in Spring time there is enough water in the stream to make a crossing a cold wet experience. Therefore we stayed on the south side on the stream. The Stream forks at about 8240 feet. We followed the branch that originates East of Brown Peak 10349 feet. In about a mile or so you will come to a main trail which runs Northeast to Helms Meadow and Southwest to Nelson Lake. Continue following the Stream toward Brown Peak and then about a mile east of Brown Peak the stream forks. Take the right fork follow the stream up toward a marsh shown of the 7.5 min map below 9400 feet. Don't go all the way to the marsh instead say n the north side of the now small stream. Then leave the stream and head Northeast to the ridge between Three Sisters and Peak 10171. Climb Three Sisters from the Southwest. There is a good view of the Sierra's from the Mt. Goddard area and north. We started hiking about 7:30 am. and were back by 2:30 pm. Total distance about 12 miles and 2500 feet gain. Participants on this trip were Paul Graff, Mark Adrian, Terry Flood, Tom Neely, Don Sparks, Mike McDermitt, Elaine Baldwin, and David Baldwin.
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