|Mule Peak and Bald Mountain|
|Bald Mountain as seen from the Sherman Pass Road
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|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 Mule Peak.
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 – 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|
|Mt. Whitney and Mt. Langley|
|Farewell Gap and the Great Western Divide|
|Looking south across the Domeland Wilderness to
Kern Peak in the distance
|The tallest mountain in the distance is
Telescope Peak in Death Valley
|A sweet little aster|