Ascent of Mount Stakes on 2016-02-28

Climber: Mihai Giurgiulescu

Others in Party:Patrick Bergeron -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, February 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Stakes
    Elevation:3804 ft / 1159 m

Ascent Trip Report

Access notes:
From East San Jose, take Mt. Hamilton Road (CA-130) east into the hills, topping out at Lick Observatory on the summit of Mount Hamilton. Highway 130, now called San Antonio Valley Road, begins descending steeply into the namesake valley. Stay on this narrow and windy road heading generally eastward, until it makes an obvious wide turn to the north. A gated dirt road is visible to the driver's right on the south side of the road at this point. Instead of parking by the gate, backtrack a few hundred feet uphill and park next to the last cattle guard crossing. The distance from the intersection of Alum Rock Ave and Mt. Hamilton Rd in East San Jose to the gate is approximately 31.2 miles and will take almost an hour and half to drive due to traffic conditions.

Climbing notes:
As with Boardman North, one does not want to spend any more time than strictly necessary by the side of the road. However, San Antonio Valley Road sees far less traffic on weekends, and most of that traffic consists of bicyclists. Still, an early start is imperative. From the parking area, walk to the gate and proceed past it on a flat dirt heading south through the recently created San Antonio Valley Ecological Preserve, administered by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. After about 1/2 mile, a less distinguishable road branches off to the left (east); there are signs for Ponds 11-10-9.

Follow the pond road in an easterly direction, hiking through a lovely grassy plateau, then along the side of a stream coming from the hills looming to the east. In the spring there are several spots to cross where the stream intersects the road, and the track can be muddy. We saw plenty of footprints from cows, feral pigs and other animals roaming around.

While paralleling the stream, the road gains elevation modestly, with several ups and downs. One should stay left at a couple of junctions where other roads continue south and east respectively. After passing a gate marking the boundary between the ecological preserve and private property belonging to another owner, the road begins a steep climb up the south flanks of Stakes' west ridge. Most of the elevation gain is in this section.

The road tops out at a saddle at 3400 feet, with another road dropping down to the north. Continue east on the main road towards the round summit of Mount Stakes, now clearly visible. With less than 1/2 mile left, there is a junction with two options for continuing. To the left is the main road eventually reaching the top, but taking more distance to do so. To the right is a steep firebreak leading to the main ridge, which has a barbed-wire fence marking the boundary between Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. The Santa Clara side of the fence is brushy and unappealing, but the Stanislaus side has a nice dirt road running alongside the fence. The official USGS benchmark with 'Mt Stakes' on it is under the barbed wire fence, on the bump where the firebreak terminates at the fence. Squeeze through the fence, then stay on the new dirt road as it dips gently, then rises to the main summit.

Views are nice and open in all directions. The huge expanse of Henry Coe State Park unfolds to the south, while the snow-capped Sierra shimmer in the distance to the east. Hamilton and Copernicus stand out to the northwest, while the Diablo Range extends northward and southward as far as the eye can see. No register is present. There is another benchmark in a modest rock pile at the official summit, but it does not identify the peak.

On the way back we stayed on the main road on the Santa Clara side, which only added an extra 1/4 mile distance. The descent down the steep section is much faster than expected, and the rest of the hike out is a pleasant stroll through the ecological preserve and its streams. Once back on the flat north-south road, one should not linger and move to get out past the gate before any vehicles pass by on the paved road.

Approximate stats are 11.6 miles and 2050 feet of gain. A GPS track is available, but will not be posted here. Contact me for additional information.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2150 ft / 654 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2150 ft / 655 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.7 mi / 18.8 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1960 ft / 597 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1704 ft / 519 m; Extra: 256 ft / 78m
    Loss on way in:256 ft / 78 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:Pond Road/Stakes Ridge Roads
    Start Trailhead:Upper San Antonio Valley Road  2100 ft / 640 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1894 ft / 577 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1704 ft / 519 m; Extra: 190 ft / 57m
    Gain on way out:190 ft / 57 m
    Distance:5.9 mi / 9.5 km
    Route:Pond Road/Stakes Ridge Roads
    End Trailhead:Upper San Antonio Valley Road  2100 ft / 640 m
Ascent Part of Trip: SF Bay Area CoHP 02-16

Complete Trip Sequence:
1San Bruno Mountain2016-02-26900 ft / 274 m
2San Bruno State and County Park High Point2016-02-26 
3Boardman North2016-02-271400 ft / 427 m
4Mount Boardman2016-02-27138 ft / 42 m
5Mocho Peak North2016-02-27530 ft / 162 m
6Mount Mocho2016-02-27146 ft / 45 m
7Mount Bielawski2016-02-27100 ft / 30 m
8Sunnyvale Mountain2016-02-2756 ft / 17 m
9The Peak2016-02-27150 ft / 46 m
10Mount Stakes2016-02-282150 ft / 655 m
11Mount Hamilton2016-02-28 
12Long Ridge2016-02-28 
Total Trip Gain: 5570 ft / 1698 m    Total Trip Loss: 5624 ft / 1714 m

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