Place Name: Nevada County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 9,017 Feet
Prominence: 337 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,185 Feet
A Worthy Ogul
Basin Peak is definitely a worthy Ogul List Peak. While most hikers stop at the popular Castle Peak, the venture along the connecting ridge gets much less visitation and the views from the summit are worth the extra effort.
- Fantastic views
- Easy ridge traverse
- Options to add on Castle Peak and Andesite Peak
- Crowded trail
- Parking can be tough later in day
- Road was still snowed in during July.
With my trip to Whitney getting ever closer, I wanted to start getting some hikes in with the guys that will be on my team for that adventure. I was able to enlist my buddy Kevin for this hike and wanted to find a trip that was medium length in miles but still offered a nice elevation gain. After looking over my hit list, Basin Peak seemed to fit the bill.
Usually, Basin Peak is not the main target on this trail with most people stopping at the false summit of Castle Peak.
Start at Castle Peak Rd.
We started driving up the dirt Castle Peak Rd. off I-80 and very quickly ran into mud and snow. Looking ahead, there was a huge drift in the road that I was not going to be able to get by. We parked here and were immediately feasted on by mosquitoes. Parking here was going to add on approximately 2 miles to the trip.
Fortunately, this was all flat and a road walk with occasional drifts of snow. The last 2/10 of a mile before ascending to Castle Pass was all snowy ups and downs while navigating through windfall. Hard to believe there is this much snow along this trail in July.
The climb up to Castle Pass was short and sweet as we popped out on the ridge line. Andesite Peak was 1/2 mile to the left, Basin Peak poked up above Round Valley to the north and Castle Peak laid to the east along the ridge. We followed the snowless ridge through as series of climbs with a couple of big pushes up to Castle Peak.
Castle is on the Ogul list and one I very much want to summit. Most people stop at the first summit, however, the furthest rock outcropping is the true summit and requires some class 3 climbing. With little climbing experience and the wind ripping over 30mph, I decided to save this for another time.
We dropped down the north side of Castle Peak and picked up the well defined use trail along the ridge over to Basin Peak. There were still enormous drifts of snow on both sides of the ridge. Along the top we were all clear sailing to the summit of Basin Peak.
Views for miles
The views up top were pretty fantastic. Despite the haze over the central valley, Mt. Diablo and the Sutter Buttes were visible. To the north, the Sierra Buttes Lookout stood tall and Mt. Lassen in its snow covered glory poked up on the horizon. Mt. Lola, just 3 miles away looked like a fun summit to obtain at a later date. Looking towards Nevada, so many Great Basin Peaks were visible from Mt. Adams, State Line Peak all the way down to Mt. Siegel and the Sweetwaters.
The hike back was easy as pie. We didn’t have much climbing since we weren’t going back up Castle Peak. The use trail disappeared into a steep snow bank which forced us to climb a bit higher to catch another trail. Other options for a return would be looping down into Round Valley and following that trail back up to Castle Pass. On this day, Round Valley looked like a swamp and the trails under the canopy were snowed in.
All in all, this was a fun hike. There were a lot of people up here, but once we passed Castle Peak, we only saw 4 others. I’ll definitely be back to attempt Castle Peak and bag Andesite Peak as well in the future.