Trip Report: Lookout Point January 2011

Lookout Point is an unremarkable hill of 3480 feet in the Diablo Ranges, very close to the Ohlone Regional Park. It is on private property though (as far as I know), so getting there requires some trespassing. It is unremarkable, however it is on Bob Byrds list of Alameda County Peaks, and Bob hasn’t been there yet. For my trip there, I also had a few other objectives:

  • checkout the Jackson Grade Trail, as a future route to reach Mount Lewis
  • gather information about Cedar Mountain
  • reach Lookout Point, obviously
  • also reach Peak 3841ft, but I did not meet that objective

To prepare, I put in the coordinates of trail junctions as seen on mytopo maps into my GPS. I printed out a map and labeled these junctions with LP1, LP2 and so on. This helped my find out which turn I had to take at each junction.

I started at Del Valle Regional Park. I soon found out that I wasn’t able to run – something I hoped to be able to save time, but I am still suffering from shin splints. This kept me from running for almost two weeks now, and I thought this would be over by now. However, running just a few yards was enough to show that I was wrong. But fast walking was okay.

I walked along the Ohlone Trail, with a small side trip to Stromer Spring again, just like last time when I hiked to Discovery Peak. I didn’t see anybody else on the trail, I think the Park Ranger at the park was the last human being that I saw.

At OT 37 I left the OT Trail, and started hiking along the Jackson Grade Trail. This trail actually continues along Rocky Ridge. The advantage of this route is that it saves the descend to Williams Gulch and the climb up the Big Burn. Soon I saw the gate that marks the boundary of the park. I had to hop over the gate to enter private property. A little further along the trail was another fence. The trail climbs gradually most of the time, but is steep at some places. It offers good views of Cedar Mountain, where I am Particularly interested in the surroundings of Lang Canyon.

It was soon obvious by hoof prints and horse poop that this land was used by horses, and after 20 minutes I found a group of four horses at a pool of water. Hoping that they wouldn’t tell they owner that someone was trespassing their land, I passed them.

Soon after that, yet another gate marked the park boundary. This time I had to hop the gate to enter the park. I was not overly nervous on the private property, but I did feel a little safer inside the park.

The trail continues along the ridge through woodland, until it reaches the point where it joins another (unnamed?) ridge. The trail crosses the upper part of the creek that later flows though William’s Gulch and then climbs up via switchbacks. Probably because the sun rarely reaches this spot, it became cold here, and I had to take on my gloves. Almost on the way up the trail passes a pond which was partially frozen over, and then reaches Shafner Flat.

At a junction I turned left to reach another gate, which I hopped to enter private territory again. Soon after the gate the trail reaches another junction, where I turned left again.

The trail passes some kind of camp site. After another half mile or so the trail reaches a point with lots of fences, where apparently 3 or 4 different properties join. It’s a little bit confusing, but I think no matter which way you choose, you need to hop at least two fences or gates. Behind the last fence there an abandoned hut. I didn’t pay much attention to it yet.

The trail continues through woodland and finally climbs and reaches the first of about three bumps, all of which compete to be the highest point. The coordinates from my GPS (taken from Bob’s page) were obviously a little off – where they match is a slope, not a peak. After the first bump, the trail reaches another bump, and the descends a little bit, passing a third bump. The third bump had fewer trees and lots of grass on it, and an annoying, broken fence. It offers nice view of Valpe Ridge to the West, Mount Lewis Beartrap Ridge to the South and Eylar Mountain to the Southeast. Mount Lewis is barely visible behind the left most tip of Valpe Ridge, but I only figured that out later by looking at the maps and a photo. I initially mistook Beartrap Ridge for Mount Lewis.

I took a break here and ate a few snacks (two energy bars). On the way back I found that I am now pretty sure that the first bump is the highest point, according to GPS. It’s the only point where it showed an elevation of more than 3480 feet, and also from the looks it appears to be the highest.

This time I inspected the abandoned house more closely and went inside to take a few pictures. Notable were two bottles of booze in the kitchen, one of them unopened. Another room had a locker cabinet, so I wonder if this was a cabin that was rented to hunters. The gazebo had a few ropes hanging from the ceiling. I have no idea what purpose they had, but I am not a hunter.

I retraced my route back, without any more noticeable events or sights. The horses where gone when I passed the spot where I first saw them. I ran a few segmemts of the way down, as much as my shin splints allowed. I ran past another hiker close to the parking lot – the first human I saw on the whole trip.

The trip was 14 miles long, and it took me 5 hours and 45 minutes.

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