Place Name: Nevada County
Place Description: State: California
Elevation: 7,841 Feet
Prominence: 641 Feet
Elevation Gain: 1,942 Feet
Lists: Tahoe Ogul
Quick and Fun Peak Within Ear Shot Of Interstate 80
Signal Peak is easy to spot when driving along Highway 80 between Reno and Sacramento. You really can’t miss it. There wasn’t much traffic on the Fordyce Lake Rd. on this day, so we didn’t see another person the whole day. This hike was mostly up an old 4×4 road that has been closed off. Guessing this was the original route to the old lookout built on the top in 1909. Don’t be alarmed by the low score for summit views, it really is quite a gorgeous view and would easily be a 4-star if there wasn’t so much radio equipment and towers on the summit.
- Easy approach from road
- Cool old lookout building
- Great views of surrounding Oguls
- Towers and radio equipment on summit
- Old rusted junk metal in places along trail
- Potential to be crowded with OHV on summit
Signal Peak, also known as Red Mountain is a mountain that can’t be missed while driving along Interstate 80 between Auburn and Truckee. It’s very reddish and adorned with antennas. If you look close enough, you can also see the old lookout building. The summit can be hiked or driven up with a proper off road vehicle.
Accessing Signal Peak starts with the Cisco Grove exit and crossing over the Yuba River to the north side. From here, pick up Fordyce Lake Rd. About 1.3 miles up this road you will need to look for a rock on the left side of the road that has MOE on it.
The MOE is hard to spot at first, but once you do it’s really the only place that looks different from the rest of the drive in.
Once past the rock, start up the obvious trail. It’s like an old OHV trail, probably the way they used to get up to the fire lookout 100 years ago.
There are a couple of areas where the trail disappears, however, it’s usually not for long. Water was running freely down the middle of the trail through the forested areas.
After a bit, we broke out of the trees and into the manzanita country up until we gained the ridge. Up higher, we started finding snowdrifts over the trail which were easy enough to cross or head around. Snow started around 7,100 feet. The trail starts to climb up a hard packed rocky road that ascends to the old lookout. Pretty cool spot and amazing views.
The summit was just a short distance away with all of the ugly radio towers you can see from the highway. We encountered very big snow drifts over the summit between all of the buildings.
Not sure if there is a benchmark or register up here, if there was, it was under the snow.
The views across the snowy Sierra’s were breathtaking. Old Man Mountain to the north looks small from this vantage point. Devils Peak and Snow Mountain could be seen to the southeast.
The Final Word
This was a great Father’s Day Weekend hike and long overdue for a Sierra Peak Bagging Adventure. I would recommend this hike a beginner’s hike and was glad to use it to knock off an early season Ogul Peak!