Ascent of Anderson Peak on 2018-04-01

Climber: Andrew Kirmse

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, April 1, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Anderson Peak
    Elevation:4099 ft / 1249 m

Ascent Trip Report

Anderson Peak had been on my radar for a few years as a CC peak in the Ventana that requires a lot of vertical gain. I investigated three different approaches. The shortest, a direct run up to the peak from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, had been done by Michael Sosnowski in 2015, but most of the trails in the park remain closed after the 2016 Soberanes Fire. Farther west, the De Angulo Trail goes from Route 1 up to the Coast Ridge Road. I was tempted to try this way, but the trail reports on the Ventana Wilderness Alliance Web page were conflicting, and I was worried about hitting too much brush. In hindsight I probably could have gone this way and saved some distance. Instead, I decided to follow two recently successful attempts up the Boronda Trail even farther to the west, for a round trip of 19 miles.

I arrived at the Forest Service gate on Route 1 at about 7:15am. Fog covered the ocean and it was cool for the start of the hike. About 1 mile in and 900 feet up, I had climbed above the marine layer, and the sun peeked over the ridge, making it already warm. The good trail gains elevation relentlessly, 2400 feet in 3 miles to the ridge. Here I turned right onto the wide Coast Ridge Road, which I’d be following all the way to the peak. I saw no one on the road all day, despite many footprints and tire tracks. The road has spectacular views to the east of the Ventana Wilderness, encompassing the three Ventana Cone peaks, and Olmstead lower and in the foreground. As the miles ticked away on the well-graded road, Black Cone came into view, and later, Junipero Serra and Pinyon Peak, and Cone Peak far to the south. The road crew mentioned in Jeffrey Kabel’s report had indeed installed many new metal flume drains, none too soon, as I’d seen on the news that Anderson Peak got 8 inches of rain in a storm just a few weeks ago.

Finally Anderson Peak itself came into view, recognizable by the buildings and VORTAC cone on its summit. I reached a fork with a flimsy metal gate in front of a road that led off to the left and up to the peak. However, I knew from Jeffrey’s trip report that I should ignore this gate and continue on the main road up to a later fork with a sign pointing to Anderson Peak to the left. I took this, then soon doubled back on a grassy roadbed that led under an ugly retaining wall and over to some fenced buildings. Here I headed directly up the steep hill to the flat, asphalt summit with the VORTAC transmitter in its center. There were no fences, gates or signs along this route.

As I ate my lunch here, I looked down upon the fenced buildings I had passed. I learned later that this was an astronomical observatory, first built to observe missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base 100 miles to the south. In 2009, the Department of Defense came close to dismantling the observatory, partly due to complaints from landowners. There’s some more information at .

It was now downright warm as I started back. Just below the peak is a wooden bench dedicated to wildlife biologist Mike Tyner, killed by a falling branch in a windstorm in 2011 ( I left the road a few miles later at the site of a deserted homestead, now just a chimney and some rusty pieces of metal. The more southern of the two peaks of Michaels Hill, marked 3861 on the USGS topo map, appears to be lower than the northern peak, but in any case, I visited them both. The northern peak is covered with small blocks of limestone among the grass, reminiscent of nearby Pico Blanco. Of everywhere on the hike, the impact of the Soberanes Fire was most severe in this area.

Another few miles along, I took a short detour up Timber Top, a low-prominence bump with a campground at its base. A group was just heading back to their cars after camping here, and in fact I met many groups going both up and down between here and Route 1. Just after I reached my car, Big Sur tourist reality returned. A car pulled in to ask for help. They had only a schematic tourist map of the area, had no idea where they were on it, and they were almost out of gas.

The trip was 19 miles with 4500 feet of gain. The warm day and long distance resulted in some blisters on my feet, but I enjoyed crossing this peak off my list, and the great views of the Ventana.

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Anderson Peak from the Coast Ridge Road. Note the flat summit for the FAA VORTAC (radio transmitter for navigation) at the top. Cone Peak is just to the right on the horizon (2018-04-01). Photo by Andrew Kirmse.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4539 ft / 1383 m
    Distance:18.9 mi / 30.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4539 ft / 1383 m
    Extra Loss:1000 ft / 304 m
    Distance:18.9 mi / 30.4 km
    Route:Boronda Trail / Coast Ridge Road
    Trailhead:Route 1  560 ft / 170 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:0 mi / 0 km

This page has been served 65 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2018 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service