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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Aug 10, 2014 - Spikes Peak

 

Partners: (None)

Distance: 11.32 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,097 feet

Trip Time: 3:59

Maps and Stats:
I needed a break from the weekly long drive up to the Sierra, but didn't really want to take a break from hiking. August isn't normally the best time to go hiking anywhere under 8,000 feet (unless its by the ocean) but some sort of monsoonal flow had been keeping temperatures down with afternoon clouds making for decent outdoor conditions. I've been working on many peak lists, the least impressive of which is the Coastal California (CC) list. I looked at the maps and saw that there was a CC peak in Pacheco State Park near the San Luis Reservoir. Spikes Peak would be my 39th CC Peak.

Pacheco State Park is only 1 hour away from me, so I was in no hurry, walking the dogs first and not arriving at the Park until 11:45 AM. When I got to the large parking lot I was the only one there, probably due to overpriced entrance fee of $10 (!!!) The park itself is not very large, and with Spikes Peak being only a couple of miles via the most direct route I mapped out a tour of the park, making a winding full loop which would take me by all of the named features and lakes, bringing the mileage up to a more respectable 11 miles. The entrance kiosk had very nice maps which greatly helped me along the way.

The quality of the trails, at least at the beginning, was excellent. Trails were nicely marked and well defined. I started off going towards Spikes Peak, but detoured around to Pig Pond, only to find it dried out for the summer. I guess having green hillsides and full lakes would be compelling reasons to visit this park in winter or spring instead of the middle of summer. From the dried up pond I started uphill, looping back to catch up with the Spikes Peak trail. Views towards higher summits, all on private property, were quite impressive. Once on the top of the ridge the winds were blowing a refreshingly cool breeze, and i enjoyed the easy walk over to the little spur leading up to the summit.

The summit of Spikes Peak didn't have a traditional summit register, but did have an odd contraption attached to the summit tree. The views are nice, although I imagine they would be even more so in spring. I could pick out Pacheco Peak in the distance, and San Luis Reservoir to the east. To the west were the higher peaks of Mt. Ararat, Cathedral Peak and Mariposa Peak. It had only taken 1 hour to get to the summit, one of the quicker ascents of any peak, but such are the CC peaks sometimes. I didn't stay too long, being that I was barely warmed up at this point, let alone ready for a lengthy break. So I rejoined the trail and continued west, planning to veer northwest until hitting the park boundary, then following that south to the southwest side of the park before coming back along the southern boundary.

Immediately after leaving Spikes Peak the quality of the trails deteriorated. I had been really impressed up until this point, especially with the number of various trails that could be looped and explored. Now, however, disrepair ruled the day. I came across a junction with a downed marker, but was able to figure out which way to go from the trail map. But the trail soon disappeared into the grass and I so I just went cross country. Eventually I came across yet another downed signpost, and I started feeling irritated that my $10 fee was not enough to get anyone to maintain anything beyond Spikes Peak. I found my way to the western boundary, marked by a barbed wire fence, and was able to pick up the trail again. From here I had the best views of the higher peaks to the west.

The next feature on my map was Diamond Lake, but upon arriving at the lake it too was dry. To make matters worse, there were several animal trails, and no human trails to follow out. I consulted my map and was able to get back on track, following the trail over to the next lake, called Bear Hide Lake. I was happy to see this one, although not really a lake, did have some water. From here my route turned back east, for the 4 miles back to the trailhead. I was reminded of how much nicer the park would be in spring, as I crossed a footbridge of a dry creekbed. I am probably being overly harsh - the park is quite scenic and nice, lots of rolling ups and downs, nothing too difficult, and quite isolated as well. And the ridgelines were always windy, making for a comfortable environment.

The last feature of the day was a trip down to Dinosaur Lake. I had made a point of going by this lake, as the name of it sounded intriguing. Well, I'm not sure why it is called Dinosaur Lake, but it was the best lake of the day. Probably don't want to drink from it though. From there, it was a couple more miles of ups and downs, and by 3:30 I had the parking lot back in sight. I don't think I would recommend this as a summer hike, but for those seeking a pleasant outing I would give this one a shot in the spring.

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