The Seven Summits of NorCal (July 2018)

Seven Summits Northern California

In 2015, I came across a small book (The 7 Summits of the Siskiyou Trail) by Aria Zoner – an Ashland-based ultra hiker~backpacker~peakbagger – that described a 448-mile long hiking loop through seven wilderness areas in Northern California (NorCal), with scramble climbs (Class 3 or less) of the high points in each wilderness.  While 448 miles seemed a bit much, these seven hikes/scrambles looked like fun, so we added them to our never-diminishing list of hikes to do just in case the couch started to look too inviting (assuming, of course, the cat ever lets us sit on it…).

Not counting Mount Shasta (which I’d already climbed in 1997 and again in 2003), it took us two years to reach the other six. Mount Shasta, mainly because of its height and snow, was the most challenging. Thompson Peak and Preston Peak were next in difficulty due the length of their respective approaches and the complexity of the scrambling (but never over Class 3) involved. Boulder Peak has no scrambling, but it’s a long walk with a lot of elevation gain. Red Butte, Russian Peak, and “Harry Watkins” were relatively easy due to nearby trailheads and short approaches; but each still involved some cross-country travel and route finding. In the end, seven unique adventures in parts of wilderness areas we might not have gotten around to visiting otherwise.


Red Butte Red Buttes Wilderness California
Red Butte (6,739 feet) from the Pacific Crest Trail (June 2016)


Harry Watkins Peak Castle Crag Wilderness California
The Trinity Alps from the summit of “Harry Watkins Peak” (7,200 feet) (June 2016)


Preston Peak Siskiyou Wilderness California
Preston Peak (7,313 feet) (July 2018)


Russian Peak Russian Wilderness California
Russian Peak (8,190 feet) as seen from Russian Lake (June 2016)


Boulder Peak Marble Mountain Wilderness California
Boulder Peak (8,299 feet) above Lower Wright Lake (July 2016)


Thompson Peak Trinity Alps Wilderness California
Thompson Peak (9,002 feet) above Grizzly Lake (July 2017)


Mount Shasta California
Mount Shasta (14,179 feet) ~ 2003 photo by Patrick Y. Wang {1977 – 2005}

4 thoughts on “The Seven Summits of NorCal (July 2018)

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree… Some mornings I can get up and go for a hike at a moment’s notice, but often without a list of things to see I might feel hampered at having to make a spontaneous choice. Last year, my list/goal was to hike three days a week. This year its to visit the eight wilderness areas of the upper Gunnison River basin twice – once as a day hike and once as an overnight. We’ll see… happy hiking!


  2. Some folks are critical of lists/goals; as insufficiently spontaneous or something. But we’ve found that lists/goals, as long as they’re not seen as ends in themselves, are a great impetus for getting out back of beyond. Once we get going, there’s usually plenty of spontaneity to go around!


  3. Fascinating goal to set, and certainly a great diversity of terrain to explore. Something to add to the never-diminishing list of hikes to do, or rather the ever-expanding list of hikes to do!


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