[pct-l] roads and parking on Piute Mountain, section F

David Hough on pct-l pcnst2001 at sbcglobal.net
Wed Jun 1 18:12:12 CDT 2016

The road from Kelso Valley Road to Bird Spring Pass is in pretty good
shape now, and passable with care in an ordinary car I think, though
there is one sandy wash where one might bottom out.    An SUV is no

On a less successful note, I tried to get to the point near Robin Bird
Spring where the trail crosses Jawbone Canyon Road.    The Sembs
recommend this as an access point for day hikers.  However coming from
the south, the road fords Cottonwood Creek (just a muddy spot) and then
becomes impassable for passenger cars - rocks and ruts.    The land
nearby is all private so no chance of parking there and hiking up to
the trail, even if that were a good idea otherwise.    So I tried
coming from the north by taking Piute Mountain Road from Kelso Valley
Road to the northern end of Jawbone Canyon Road.      That part was
fine - Piute Mountain Road is in excellent shape since it serves a
community called Claraville that is certainly seasonal and possibly
more.  Once upon a time, Claraville might have been a handy trail town,
but the post office closed in 1957.  In fact, the whole Piute
Mountain/Landers Meadow is much more highly populated than PCT hikers
might guess, since the trail is routed around the extensive private
property.  There is a lot of legal off-road motorized recreation up
there, and some illegal, to the extent that the Kern County Sheriff
provides an opportunity for passing PCT hikers to record their

The upper part of Jawbone Canyon Road is fine for normal passenger cars
as long as the private property lasts, but deteriorates rapidly to
rocks and ruts about a mile south of the junction to Mace Meadow, when
you get back on Sequoia National Forest land where it is in principle
legal to park and camp.  Just before the deterioration there is a road
to the southeast that looks OK for passenger cars at first, but isn't,
and has no turnaround until its end at a fine 4WD campsite with
seasonal and perhaps permanent water just before the end - the Forest
Service put up a sign warning users to purify, so there must be some
users.    The PCT is just a couple hundred feet down the hill from the
campsite.   However the part of the side road that is passable for
passenger cars doesn't have any good parking, so I had to park poorly
for my day hike.    As far as I can tell, all of Jawbone Canyon Road is
fine for real 4WD with good clearance.

I'm trying to find a legal and accessible alternative to the Semb
suggestion.  I'd appreciate any help from anybody with local knowledge
as to where one could get to in a normal passenger car on Piute
Mountain Road to park legally for three days somewhere near the
trail.    I say three days because that's about how long it might take
a slower hiker to backpack from Tehachapi Pass to Piute Mountain, and
there's no road access in between.

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