Place Name: Mendocino County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 6,954 Feet
Prominence: 1,514 Feet
Elevation Gain: 614 Feet
Lists: California CA County HP
Long Drive, Short Hikes
If you are looking for a day where the time behind the wheel drastically exceeds the time your boots are in the dirt, look no further than this area of the Coastal Range west of Willows. A very nice network of roads connects Highway 5 to Highway 101 and in between lie two county high points – Black Butte (Glenn County) and Anthony Peak (Mendocino County).
- Good access road
- Great views
- Lots of peace and quiet
- Long dirt road approach
- Fires in 2020 burned the area up
- Long way from anywhere
Unless you are a local, driving out to Black Butte and Anthony Peak tells me that you are a county high pointer.
There are very few reasons to venture out this way, especially after the forest was devastated by the August Complex Fire of 2020. Visiting this area will require far more dashboard time than boots on the ground time.
Fortunately, the main road in the area is in very good condition. Since this is technically a continuation of CA-162 that connects highway 5 to highway 101, the road is maintained. Although, it is not plowed in the winter and will shut down.
After awhile, the nice paved road turns to dirt. While there is some wash boarding, this road is still in good enough condition for passenger cars.
As you drive up the road, Black Butte becomes the very prominent looking peak ahead of you. There is a road to the left that is beat up concrete in parts and this will lead up to the trail. Firstly, if you are looking for a longer hike, start at the road junction. This will be about a 3 mile roundtrip hike.
Looking for a shorter hike? Driving up to within a half mile of the summit is an easy option.
Once above the last landing area on the road, the trail turns into a single track through burnt up pines. The trail switchbacks up the large rocky summit and giant views.
To the west, the Pacific Ocean can be seen as well as the next objective, Anthony Peak.
While in the area, Anthony Peak might as well be climbed. After passing the turnoff to Black Butte, Anthony Peak is reached by turning off onto a side road at Mendocino Pass.
This road is a little bumpier, however, any car should be able to get up. There is a landing about 1.5 miles from the peak that served as our trailhead. Next, you will encounter an easy road walk. If time is pressing, this road can be driven with ease. A low clearance car could be carefully drive to the summit.
There is a fire lookout and picnic table on top of the peak. There is also a pit toilet if nature is calling.
The views are nice from here. South Yolla Bolly is the main peak visible. Beautiful ridges lead to Uhl Peak, although we did not have time to visit, it looks like an easy bonus peak if you have the time.
The Final Word
Black Butte and Anthony Peak are worthy objectives and a nice way to spend a day. Despite that, unless you are chasing county high points, there are way better options in the state of California to spend a day.
If you do decide to check these peaks out, make sure to have plenty of gas and a spare tire. There is very little cell service and you are a long way from help.
The area is also heavily fire damaged taking away from the aesthetics. I’m sure this area was much more beautiful pre-fire.