Trumbull Peak Special Interest Area

Trumbull Peak Special Interest Area

Note: Check with the forest service for status before heading to this area; roads are closed in winter and some areas were temporarily closed due to a fire last fall.

Trumbull Peak Historic and Botanic Special Interest Area encompasses 150 acres around Trumbull Peak on the southern edge of the Stanislaus National Forest, overlooking the Merced River Canyon. It is accessible by unsurfaced forest-service roads from spring through fall. The highest point on the peak is at 5,000 feet elevation.

The area’s botanical features include more than 100  species of wildflowers, shrubs and trees. Some of the more showy common species to be found there include yellow pincushion plant, Applegate’s paintbrush, fiesta flower and blue-top gilia. Because of the peak’s south-facing aspect and position on the rim of the Merced River Canyon, it is influenced by warm air currents rising out of the canyon. Many of the plant species found at the peak are able to thrive at 5,000 feet because of the warm air currents. Most bloom early because of this. Best viewing time is early to mid-May. Roads are usually impassable until around that time.

Historical features of the area include the Trumbull Peak fire lookout and lookout tender’s house, a railroad logging spur and two railroad logging inclines, and the ruins of a logging camp. An informative brochure is available for purchase from the Groveland Ranger District Office.

There are two hiking trails, each approximately a quarter-mile long. The lower trail terminates at the top of one of the historic logging inclines with a pleasing variety of wildflowers and shrub species to view along the way. The upper trail follows the ridge line and offers a large assortment of wildflowers, rare plants, shrubs and trees. The upper trail terminates at the historic lookout and lookout tender’s house.

Both trails are very narrow and perched on the edges of cliffs or very steep slopes. Sturdy hiking or walking shoes/boots with non-skid soles are a must. Visitors should be prepared for all weather conditions. May weather at Trumbull Peak can be anything from sunny and warm to blizzard or rain conditions. Rattlesnakes and ticks are common, and poison oak grows along the lower trail.

Getting there:  From the Groveland, travel 13 miles east on Highway 120. Turn south (right) onto the second Hardin Flat Road. Take the first left onto Forest Route 20 (Forest Road 2S30, the Crocker Railroad Grade). Continue eight miles to the Five Corners intersection where the pavement ends. Turn east (left) onto Forest Road 1S12 and continue for six miles. One mile past Ned Gulch, take the right fork onto Forest Road 2S20, traveling south to the large opening in the saddle below Trumbull Peak. Park at the opening for the lower trail or, if you have a vehicle with moderate to high clearance, take the road to the west, uphill to the peak. The road up to the peak is not for the faint of heart – it is steep and narrow. The road can be an enjoyable hike with additional wildflower viewing. The upper trail begins at the road terminus.

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