San Jose, California
Clear Lake State Park is on the shores of California’s largest freshwater lake. The park is a nesting place for waterfowl. The Clear Lake area has a rich and interesting Native American and early settler’s history. Lake County’s ancient towering volcano – Mt Konocti – provides a dramatic backdrop to Clear Lake and will be the destination for Saturday’s hike. At 4,305 feet (1,312 m), it is the second highest peak in the Clear Lake Volcanic Field, which consists of numerous volcanic domes and cones ranging from 10,000 to 2.1 million years old. Mount Konocti has five distinctive peaks: Wright Peak (4,299 feet or 1,310 meters), Howard Peak (4,286 ft or 1,306 m), South Peak (4,286 ft or 1,306 m), Buckingham Peak (3,967 ft or 1,209 m) and Clark Peak (2,880 ft or 880 m). Sacred to Native Americans and subject of legends, the mountain is one of the few landmarks ever-visible from most locations throughout the county, and offers outstanding views from three summits. It is home to falcons and other raptors, a myriad of other birds, red fox, bob cats, and rattlesnakes.
Mount Konocti County Park opened in the fall of 2011. In private hands since the mid-1800s, few have previously enjoyed the breathtaking beauty seen from the top.
We will be staying in group site A. The group campsite allows 8 cars and 40 people. Overflow will be handled as first come first serve. The site has BBQs, food lockers, fire ring (there may be a fire ban, depending on weather – firewood is available for sale at the park entrance and host campsite), picnic tables and a lot of shade. Bathrooms have running water and flush toilets. Showers may or may not be running (depending on drought/water conservation efforts in late September). The swimming beach is walking distance away (or you can drive). Bring your swim suit and towel!
We will be hiking the Dorn Nature Trail to the beach and back. It is steep for the first part, to the top of the hill with great views, then mostly downhill or flat. Round trip is around 2.5 miles 500 ft elevation. Bring your swim suit as we will swim at about the half way point. Out of the campsite turn right onto the road and join the walking trail that starts across the road on the left. Start by taking the trail to the right, go up steep switch backs, stay to the left at the bench, walk past two benches (great views of the lake!), stay to the left onto a narrow trail going straight ahead, turn left at the Dorn Nature Trail sign, keep the lake on your left, head downhill, pass a sign saying lower Bayview, stay left when you see the road, follow the sign to the beach, turn left at the telephone pole, through parking lot to swimming beach.
On the walk back, cross the road through the parking lot to join the hiking trail again. Turn right at the telephone pole, turn right at the fork onto Dorn Nature Trail, stay to right all of the way back, with the lake on your right.
We will drive to the trailhead. From downtown Kelseyville in Lake County, California, take Konocti Road one mile past the high school until it turns into a dirt road. Continue up the mountain for 2 miles to reach the lower parking lot. Another parking lot is located 400 feet higher up the road.
Wright Peak Summit Trail: The Wright Peak Summit Trail is a 6+ mile round-trip hike from the Upper Parking Lot near the access gate on Konocti Road, with an approximate 1,600 ft elevation gain. The trail takes hikers along the main access road, past walnut and apple orchards, through an amazing Canyon Oak grove to the Mary Downen cabin, built in 1903. It then continues up to Wright Peak and the CDF Tower, with possible side trips to Buckingham Peak and Howard Peak (making the hike a few miles longer).
If you want to swim after you return to the campsite, follow the road to the beach.
Directions: The entrance to the park is 3.5 miles northeast of Kelseyville on Soda Bay Road, north of Calistoga in the wine country.
Latitude/Longitude: 39.0094 / -122.8106
From San Jose, take 280S to 680N for 70 miles. Take exit 71B to merge onto CA-12 W/I-80 towards Napa/San Francisco, take exit towards CA-12W for 6 miles. Turn right onto CA-12 W/CA-29 N (signs for Napa/Sonoma) follow CA-29N for around 50 miles. Left onto Highway 175 W 8.4 miles, left onto Bottle Rock Rd 11 miles, Left onto CA-29 N/Hwy 175 W 2 miles. At Kellseville, turn right onto Main St, right onto State St, right onto Gaddy Lane, continue onto Soda Bay Rd, left onto State Park Rd into Clear Lake State Park, follow signs/map to group site A.
This road (580N) has a $5 toll.
Drive time approx. 3 hours.
Check in is 2pm Friday and check out is noon Sunday. Average temperature for this time of year is 80 degrees, with night time temperatures around 48 degrees - bring sunscreen, a hat, and lots of water. Bring bug spray, the mosquitoes can be a pest! We will be driving to the Saturday hike trail, it is 3.5 miles away, the last couple of miles is on a dirt road.
Cost: $10 pp for the weekend. Additional cars $8 cost per vehicle/day (parking is limited, so carpooling is recommended). No dogs allowed on trails, in Mt Konocti County park, or at the swimming beach, but they are allowed at the campsite on a leash, they cannot be left unattended at any time.