Hiking Stats as of 11/11/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

May 17, 2014 - Wittenberg, Mount / Barnabe Mountain / Pine Mountain


Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 20.43 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,022 feet

Trip Time: 6:47

Maps and Stats:
I called Kyle Friday evening to see if he wanted to go somewhere Saturday, which he did, but neither one of us was too keen on driving all the way up to the Sierra. I left the decision on where to go for him to decide. Using Bob Burd's website he was able to zero in a trio of CC listed peaks in Marin County. The peaks were not close enough to do in one single hike, so we planned on doing 3 smaller hikes, thinking we would do about 15 miles on the day. These three peaks, Mt. Whittenberg, Barnabe Mountain and Pine Mountain would give me 33 CC summits as I continued progressing on the list.

Marin County is about an hour from my house in Tracy, and about a half hour for Kyle, although we would be coming from different directions so there was no reason to meet up anywhere before our routes converged on Sir Francis Drake Blvd at the Ferry terminal. We met there at 10 AM, which gave me enough time to first walk the dogs for their 6 mile weekend walk. After meeting we decided to start on the far west side of Marin and work our way back east throughout the day. The drive took nearly an hour to get all the way over to the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, where there was a large dirt parking lot which housed a lot of cars. There were lots of people on the trail, not something we are used to or particularly like. On the positive side, this was an indicator that we should be in for a fairly easy hike. Although we had both brought packs, neither one of us would carry one with us at any point during the day, electing to simply carry a liter of fluid for each individual hike, and drinking on the brief car rides between hiking locations.

The trail was basically flat as we walked through the green forest, and after a couple of miles we began to wonder when the heck we would start going up. We were going to "Mount" Whittenberg after all. I checked my GPS and saw that we completely overshot our turnoff. Not by one junction but by 2 trail junctions. We only saw one, so I'm not sure where the correct trail was, but we walked back and took the second junction and started up the trail. This trail was much more secluded, a narrow single track that climbed uphill. We were on the wrong trail but headed in the right direction. After a couple of miles we connected to the correct trail, albeit a couple of miles down the trail from where we thought we would connect.

What was supposed to be a 5 mile trip was taking a lot more, as we followed the trail along the ridgeline. We had a brief view of the Pacific Ocean before connecting with the Mt. Wittenberg Summit trail. There was another group of maybe 10 hikers celebrating at this location, and as we started up the trail they followed suit, perhaps realizing they weren't yet at the summit? The last quarter mile up to the peak goes through a burned forest, before arriving at one of the most boring summits ever. Trees blocked the view in all directions, and the highpoint was not entirely obvious. Kyle located the benchmark and posed on top of it for his summit shot. We had worked for this - over 6 miles and 2 hours thanks to our navigational errors but I still could not get excited enough for a summit shot. We had no time to linger, needed to get on to 2 more peaks. We took the Mt. Wittenberg trail downhill, and within a half hour we were back down. Total round trip was about 9 miles and a bit over 2 1/2 hours.

We jumped in the car and got back on Sir Francis Drake, and 15 minutes later we found the turnout opposite the Devils Gulch entrance for the Barnabe Mountain hike. Upon entering we grabbed an informational map, which proved quite helpful as the batteries in my GPS had died. We figured we could navigate using our own meager skills, but ultimately the map was a handy tool. We knew we could make a loop of the hike, going up Bills Trail to the summit and taking the straight and steep Barnabe Fire Trail back down. Bills Trail is nice enough, although it is obnoxiously gently graded, taking nearly 4 miles to clime barely over 1,000 feet. The trail was in need of some maintenance, as downed trees and overgrown brush were more of a challenge than the elevation gain. There were something like 7 bridges that we crossed, as we gently made our way up. We finally came out from the forest, spotting the summit a few hundred feet above. The summit is marred by an ugly looking antenna, that looks nothing like a live tree that it is disguised as. There were a couple of guys on the summit rocks, the only hikers we saw on Barnabe all day, so we explored the summit tower and took some shots of some good summit views which stretched all the way to Diablo to the SE. Once again we had taken the long way up, covering over 4 miles in about 1 1/2 hours. We started down the fire road which quickly took us downhill. We carved out a few minutes to visit the Taylor's Gravesite. Apparently Sam and Sarah were pioneer settlers in Marin County during the Gold Rush, and were buried in this peaceful spot. Within an hour of being on the summit and less than 2 miles later we were back at the car, ready for our next summit.

We had already done 16 miles for the first 2 peaks, which was more than we thought the entire day would be, however, we couldn't imagine leaving Pine Mountain to some future day since we were already right there. Well, almost right there. It took a half hour to get up to the trailhead, as we had to take a winding road out of Fairfax which ascended up to the starting elevation of about 1,050 feet. It was around 5 PM as we got started, with the summit plainly in view from the get go. There is a fire road that goes nearly to the summit, so it was an easy hike, and thanks to the starting elevation, we had great views, although they were largely to the south behind us. There were a few people on the trail, but mostly on descent and we were by ourselves for the last couple of miles as we hit the last steep section of fire road. There is a use trail leading off of the fire road that leads to the summit and fittingly, a giant rock marks the top of the peak. I took my turn on top, my only summit shot of the day but after the cumulative efforts of the day I felt it justified. The views from on top were pretty good, although I had expected something more. More interesting was a rock wall that ran the entire length of the sumit plateau, which would have taken quite an effort to construct. Kyle walked along it for a while, but could not see an ending point. I'm note sure where the rocks were sourced from or what the purpose was, but I couldn't help but think it seemed like a lot of effort for such little gain.

It had only taken about 50 minutes to cover the 2.5 miles to the top, and after spending maybe 15 minutes on top we started back down. We had the nice views in front of us the whole way, although when you are only going a couple of miles it really wasn't all that meaningful. We were back down to the car a few minutes after 6:30, having covered nearly 20.5 miles and 4,000+ feet of gain in a little less than 7 hours on the days 3 hikes. Stats that would make for a pretty tough hike, but when done separately seemed a bit easier. I did note that the miles I did with the dogs in the morning put me over the mileage needed for a marathon, which I believe is the 4th time I've ever done that in one day. Quite a fine way to spend a Saturday!

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(5 years ago) Gordon (aka boyblue) said:

If you saw several Boy Scouts and a few adults, that was us.