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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Applegate's paintbrush. Applegate's paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei) is a common wildflower in the Trumbull Peak Special Interest Area. Photo by Jerry Hill.

yellow pincushion plant. The yellow pincushion plant (Chaenactis glabriuscula var. glabriuscula) makes a bright splash against the backdrop of the Merced River Canyon. Photo by Jennie Haas.

View of Trumbull Peak Special Interest Area looking towards the Trumbull Lookout. Trumbull Peak Special Interest Area is home to more than 100 species of plants. Photo by Jennie Haas.

Trumbull Peak Historic and Botanic Special Interest Area

Forest: Stanislaus National Forest

District: Groveland Ranger District

Description: Trumbull Peak Historic and Botanic Special Interest Area (SIA) encompasses 150 acres around Trumbull Peak. It is located on the southern edge of the Stanislaus National Forest, overlooking the Merced River and Canyon. It is accessible by unsurfaced Forest roads from spring through fall. The highest point on the peak stands just over 5,000 feet above sea level.

The SIA’s botanical features include more than 100 other 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 the warm air currents which rise out of the canyon. Many of the plant species found at the peak are usually better known from the lower elevations but able to thrive at 5,000 feet because of the warm air currents. Because of this warm air influence, most of the wildflowers bloom early for the elevation. In addition to the wildflowers at the Trumbull Peak SIA, there is a historic rose bush planted during the logging camp days. The other historical features of the SIA 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.

The Trumbull Peak SIA has other features of interest. The geology of the Peak and surrounding area is interesting and impressive. Some wildlife species, such as canyon wrens, make their home on Trumbull Peak while others pass through. And, if all of the values that make the Trumbull Peak SIA special are not enough, a modest but lovely view of Yosemite Valley may be had from the Special Interest Area.

There are two hiking trails, each approximately ¼ mile long (1/2 mile round trips). 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 ridgeline 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. See Safety First, below. OHVs are not allowed on the trails.

Please help us protect the important values of this Special Interest Area. Stay on trails. Leave artifacts, plants and other natural features the way you find them so that others may enjoy them and learn from them.

Viewing Information: The wildflowers are best viewed in mid-May when most are in full bloom. The roads are usually impassible during winter months.

Safety First: Both trails are, at times, 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 SIA can be anything from sunny and warm to blizzard or rain conditions. Rattle snakes and ticks are frequent visitors of the SIA. Poison oak is found in a few scattered places along the lower trail.

Directions: From the Groveland Ranger District Office, 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.

Ownership and Management: USDA, Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest, Groveland Ranger District Office.

Closest Town: Groveland, California.