Saturday, October 04, 2008

Schoolhouse Peak Lookout

Distance: 38 miles
Climbing: 4546 feet
Dificulty: Moderate
Start: Orick

The Schoolhouse Peak lookout is a great biking destination. It is a 38 mile out-and-back from Orick. I recommend you park in Orick at the Redwood National Park "South Operations" center office building. This ride does not require a complicated route sheet because there are only two turns. Head north on Highway 101 for 0.75 miles and turn right on Bald Hills Road. Restart your computer at the beginning of Bald Hills Road. Ride approximately 17.75 miles up Bald Hills Road and turn left onto the lookout road. There are many side roads along the way, but they are all gated, except for the one fork just past the Elk Camp fire station, where you stay right. You simply stay on the main road all the way up to the lookout.

Along the way there are spectacular views from the road. During the climb up Bald Hills Road you will travel through old growth redwood and Douglas fir forest, natural prairies, and oak woodlands. The tallest tree in the world is located in the Redwood Creek drainage below Bald Hills Road. The park has been conducting broadcast burns to try to maintain the open prairies and oak woodlands. For more information, check out their website: http://www.nps.gov/redw/index.htm

You will need a cyclocross, touring, or mountain bike with wide tires to be comfortable on the gravel roads. Thirteen miles up Bald Hills Road the surface turns to gravel. This results in a total of 10 miles of gravel road riding. I completed the ride on 32 mm smooth tires, but I would have been more comfortable on 35 mm or wider knobbies. The first 2.6 miles of the ride are steep. The road grade exceeds 15% in many locations, so I advise appropriate gearing for your fitness level.
  • 0- Start the climb up Bald Hills Road.
  • 2.57- Lady Bird Johnson Grove, bathroom, and hiking.
  • 9.89- Elk Camp CAL FIRE station. Stay to the right at the road fork.
  • 13- Start of gravel.
  • 17.75- Turn left to get to the lookout.
  • 18.21- Lookout

Click on the photo for a larger view. The park had conducted a prescribed burn to maintain the prairies and oak woodlands, which often get invaded by Douglas fir seedlings.





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