16 March 2015

Burnt Peak and Sawmill Mountain

Angeles National Forest




The Powerhouse Fire closure had put to rest any thought of returning to this area again for a while. Initially, it was all the way to I-5 and down to Fish Canyon, then a tiny bit opened, but not Fish Canyon. Recently, much of the area west of Lake Hughes Road was opened. A trail I hiked before is just barely into the open area, but today I am interested in the named feature on the local 7.5' quad: Burnt Peak. It is entirely along road, but there is a locked gate three miles from the top. The road up to the gate is not maintained for passenger cars, but I have found it to be quite passable although often one lane.

peak along a ridge
Burnt Peak, may destination for the moment.

The peak does not look like much from the start. The nearby top of Sawmill Mountain appears to be higher than it. The road starts off dropping to a saddle rather than making any attempt to climb. After the saddle, the climb is easy, but continuous. Much of it is shaded, which is nice even if not quite as necessary as yesterday.

over a ridge to a valley and more mountains
Views opening up to the Tehachapi Mountains to the north.


Sawmill Mountain
The ridge off the west side of Sawmill Mountain as it falls away.

two views of a butterfly, with wings folded and plain or open and bright
A butterfly with two personalities depending on if the wings are folded (left) or open (right).

Eventually Sawmill Mountain falls away. The apparent relative height of these peaks was only an illusion. The top of Burnt Peak is a monument to air traffic safety, and signs warn that any disruption to service could result in loss of human life. I can still walk around the top and take in the views. I can now look right over the top of Sawmill into the valley below, full of windmills and pools of orange poppies.

misty mountain ranges that are not very high
The view to the southwest includes Santa Clarita and the Templin Highway.

white structures at the top of the mountain
A directional antenna the FAA uses for air traffic control is at the very top of Burnt Peak.

looking back to parking
Desert to the northeast. My starting point is the saddle left of center.

valley of windmills and orange splotches
The distant windmills do not seem to be turning today.

After the tour of the peak, I head back to the saddle. It is only a half mile up to the top of Sawmill Mountain from there, so I head up the road for it too. The road gets very near the top of the mountain, then it is a short hike up a 'dozer track to the very top. The map shows a benchmark there and another on a nearby bump. I hold little hope of actually finding it with 'dozer tracks so evident in the area, but behind a mangled pole, it is actually there.

grassy mountain top with a witness post
A mangled bit of metal seems to protect the 1932 benchmark on Sawmill.

Burnt Peak
Burnt Peak from the top of Sawmill Mountain.

more grassy top of Sawmill
More of the grassy top and deciduous oaks on Sawmill Mountain.

The other benchmark was not so lucky as the first. It was under a fire lookout that was removed sometime between 1932 and 1938. Three of the feet of the lookout are still there, turned and moved about.

Tehachapi windmills
Views of the valley are better from here.

concrete blocks
What is left of a fire lookout removed about 80 years ago.

Sawmill Fuel Break
An old fuel break along the top of Sawmill Mountain.

southerly view into mountainous places
The southerly view.

I head back along the fuel break instead of the road. There is a pleasant wind blowing over the top of the mountain and the downhill is gentle until the very last.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 21 March 2015

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