Mule Peak and Bald Mountain
Mule Peak is in the Sequoia National Forest/Giant Sequoia National Monument and is
the site of a manned fire lookout. It is along the Great Western Divide and overlooks
the Tule River Indian Reservation to the west and provides superb views towards
the north including: Moses, Maggie, and Slate Mountain. Looking northeast you can
just spot Olancha Peak. Towards the east you see the mighty Kern River Canyon and
southward you see Baker Point and Tobias Peak.
I see Mule Peak nearly everyday and have been longing to climb it. I finally got my
chance a few days ago.
To get to Mule Peak take the Western Divide Highway south of Ponderosa about 8
miles. Take Forest Service Road 22S03 which climbs west steeply from the Western
Divide. This road is a dirt road and a vehicle with high-clearance is necessary. 4wd isn't
necessary but may be helpful. The road ends after 5 miles at a small turn-around
parking area and from here it is a steep 3/4 mile climb along a rocky trail to the top of
Upon reaching the lookout, a sign may be posted that will inform you if the lookout is
open for public visitation. A Forest Service employee resides at the Mule Peak Lookout
tower. It is utilized as an office as well as the home for the summer months while the
lookout is on duty. This person is responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio
messages to a dispatcher, who in turn sends firefighters and support equipment to
extinguish the reported fire. The employee is usually on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but
may have the lookout closed due to fires or repair work. If the gate is open, you are
welcome to visit the lookout, talk with the Forest Service employee, and enjoy the
view, which is spectacular.
No more than 4 â€“ 5 people are recommended on the lookout at a time, as there is
very little space. Can you imagine living in a 10x10 foot space for months at a time? Oh,
but what a view
Bald Mountain is in the Sequoia National Forest on the northern boundary of the
Domeland Wilderness and it is the site of another manned fire lookout. It is part of
the Kern Plateau which rises between the North and South Forks of the Wild and
Scenic Kern River. Bald Mountain provides superb views towards the north including:
Olancha Peak, Mt. Whitney, and Mt. Langley. Looking east you can see all the way to
Telescope Peak in Death Valley! Looking southward you see across the Domeland
Wilderness and to Owens Peak. I am going to go out on a limb and say it's the finest
view in the entire southern Sierra Nevada!
Bald Mountain is also one of the Forest's Botanical Areas meaning a large concentration
of rare plants is found here.
Access to Bald Mountain is via the Blackrock or Sherman Pass Road. About halfway
between Blackrock and Sherman Pass take Forest Service Road 22S77 (dirt, high
clearance recommended) southeast for 2 miles to a small turn-around parking area.
From here it is about 1/3 mile uphill along a signed trail to the top of Bald Mountain.
|Mule Peak is the highest and farthest peak in the distance
|Looking south down the Kern River Canyon
|Baker Point is on the left, Tobias Peak is on the far
right. Click here for a trip report to these two peaks!
|From left to right, Dennison, Moses, and Maggie Mountains
|There is a fire burning to the right of Maggie Mountain
|You can see giant sequoias from Mule Peak
|You can just spot Olancha Peak, too
|Nearby Bone Meadow is a bright inviting green
|I believe this flower is called Angelica
|The bees love this place :)
|Gilia above, Buckwheat below
|The trail up to the lookout
|Farewell Gap and the Great Western Divide
|The tallest mountain in the distance is
Telescope Peak in Death Valley