Ascent of Zim Zim Ridge on 2020-05-02

Climber: Brett Moffatt

Date:Saturday, May 2, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Zim Zim Ridge
    Elevation:1801 ft / 548 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had the tracks from Marcus and David, but wanted to try something different, so I parked about 4 miles north of the Zim Zim falls trailhead, where a steep dozer cut, probably from the 2015 fires, climbs straight up to the ridge. I wasn't sure how feasible it would be to loop back, but I was able to work it out by surveying the options from the 1720 and Zim Zim ridgelines. Yet again, I was reminded that seemingly small patchs of chaparral on satellite view can be more than a minor inconvenience on the ground. But with a few adjustments, long pants, and a willingness to plow forward eyes closed at times, this route works.

At the first ridge I headed south to peak 1720 on a wide firebreak, last cleared July 2017, according to a note in the register from a CalFire dozer operator. The modest Zim Zim falls is visible to the west. Continuing south to a point beyond where Marcus' track cuts up to the ridge, I found a steep but very short deer trail through the brush to the grassy oak hillside, chose the wrong place to push through the chaparral around mile 3, and reached a bluff above the creek covered in yellow lupine. From there, the official trail/fiber optic cable service road heads north. The side route to Zim Zim ridge is not obvious until after leaving the trail and heading due west up the minor ridge. It's an old overgrown dozer cut with dense brush in places, but the poison oak is currently limited and avoidable except for the upper section of the switchback before the ridge. Not the most enjoyable ascent, but awesome views at the top. The vague route appears to continue down the north side of the ridge towards upper Zim Zim creek. It was tempting, but I didn't want risk getting into a tangled thicket at the end.

Back to the trail, I headed up to the overlook for the falls (a dozen people were congregating at the base) then cut uphill to a remnant ranch road, followed by open grasslands heading north towards the head of the canyon. This is another particularly beautiful area with wildflowers and a wide view of the valley. At the saddle, I picked up the fiber optic cable road again, which had separated from the Zim Zim falls route across from where the Zim Zim peak route began. Heading south, the road connects to another overgrown remnant road that drops east, then up to the peak 1720 ridgeline. It was similar to the Zim Zim peak trail, except that the brush became thicker just before it reached the ridge and I was forced to thrash through the thicket.

Overall, this is a great area to explore in the spring before it gets too warm. I was amazed by the number of people I saw for such a remote area, but with the social distancing rules, and limited public hiking options around Lake Berryessa, it looks like more people are exploring more obscure places, at least when the weather is good.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2081 ft / 633 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1080 ft / 328 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1081 ft / 329 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1001 ft / 305 m; Extra: 80 ft / 24m
    Loss on way in:80 ft / 24 m
    Distance:7.4 mi / 11.9 km
    Start Trailhead:800 ft / 243 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1000 ft / 304 m
    Gain on way out:1000 ft / 304 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Brett Moffatt
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Zim Zim Ridge, looking northwest (2020-05-02). Photo by Brett Moffatt.
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