For the second year running, I threw my backpack on the back of motorcycle, and headed down to Henry Coe to visit Orestimba Wilderness. I was a little better prepared after my experience last year and stuck to the trails I knew were easily navigable. My goal was to try to get to Robinson Mountain Peak right in the center of Orestimba Wilderness. The trail up to the peak is from the east so I had a long hike from park headquarters just to get to the base of the mountain.
I took the most direct route to get to Orestimba Wilderness from the Park HQ, heading to Mississippi Lake via Poverty Flat Road and Willow Ridge Road, and then dropping down Hartmann Trail and following the Orestimba Creek up to Rooster Comb, where I spent the night. The rivers were pretty full of water and the scenery was very green this time of year. From Rooster Comb it’s a few miles around to Robinson Mountain Trail, just past Lion Canyon.
Robinson Mountain Trail is more of a suggested route than a trail. Like many of the trails at Henry Coe, it walks straight up a ridge to a sub peak of Robinson Mountain. There was only one small section where the trail seems to have been man-made, where it tracks around a particularly steep ridge. The views over the valley on the way up are really pretty. The entire path up requires scrambling through waist to chest high coyote brush, but it’s pretty easily navigable.
After getting to the top though, it’s another story. The chaparral is really thick and has grown well past head height in places. I could see across to Robinson Peak, but there was no obvious path over without crawling through some very thick shrubbery. I was quickly approaching my turn around time, so the summit and views over the western section of the wilderness will have to wait for another year. I turned back, and retraced my steps to Mississippi Lake. The views on the way down the mountain trail were even better than on the way up.
On the way back I met two volunteers trimming and flagging Hartmann Trail, in preparation for the wilderness weekend the next week. This is where Dowdy Ranch is opened to vehicles one weekend each spring, which makes visiting Orestimba a lot more attainable. The volunteers were a couple, both around 80 years old, out maintaining one of the steepest trails in the park, I take my hat off to them.
I also got to talk to a volunteer in park HQ at the end of my trip, a guy named Ken, he explained to me that the ridge roads are actually old fire roads which is why they so strictly follow the ridge lines. Willow Ridge Road is nicknamed the rollercoaster because it goes up and down do many times as it traverses the ridge. It was another fun trip, and I suspect that I’ll be back again in the springtime next year.