Cabbage Patch to Poison Spring

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 4 Intermediate-advanced
Length 5.4 miles one-way via road
5.6 miles one-way via woods and clearing
6700 feet
+850, -1100 feet one-way via road
+900, -1150 feet one-way via woods and clearing
Navigation Road, map and compass
Time Most of a day
Season December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Use Low
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Calaveras Dome
Start Junction of Cabbage Patch Road and Highway 4, 0.2 miles west of the Cabbage Patch Highway Maintenance Station. The parking area is very small.

Description   Link to more information about description

Classic ski touring terrain at its best! That and wonderful vistas popping up here and there are what you will find on this wonderful one-way tour from Cabbage Patch to Poison Spring.

Image of vista toward Dardanelles Grand vista including the Dardanelles

Four miles of this tour, that's 75 percent, is along ridges, but the terrain is mellow except for the initial climb up the first ridge and the final descent to Poison Spring. In some places the terrain is open, but in other places woods obscure a view of the lay-of-the-land.

Image of broad ridge Traveling is easy along broad ridge

Navigation can be difficult where the ridges are broad and wooded; it is easy to ski off in the wrong direction without careful navigation with map and compass. There is also one critical turn along the tour that has no landmark.

Due to the fore mentioned navigational challenges, at least one person on your trip should be very good with map and compass navigation. The good news is that if you miss the critical turn you will likely find yourself down at the highway in short order, but approximately 1.1 miles east of the designated end point for the tour.

This tour is rated intermediate-advanced due to the difficulty of navigation. The skiing is of intermediate difficulty.

Be aware that although Poison Spring is located where a snow-covered road takes off from Highway 4, there is no parking at this location. Therefore this tour ends 0.6 mile west (actually the highway is going south at this point) of that point where parking is available.

This tour includes two alternative routes to descend from the final ridge to the end point. The "road" alternative leaves the ridge and descends to the end point via a road that is narrow in places. In contrast, the "woods and clearing" alternative continues a short distance farther along the ridge before descending a steep section through woods to a clearing that is followed to the end point.

The Blue Creek Point Loop tour offers some of the same excellent ridge touring without the need for a shuttle car and does not require detailed map and compass navigation.

Mileage Log   Link to more information about mileage log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 0.5
Elevation change: +100 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski north (right) on the snow-covered road for 0.5 mile until you reach a road junction (2). The road you are on continues straight ahead to Thompson Meadow and other destinations. This tour continues on the road to the west (left).

Images of skiers on road The tour begins on a road but soon leaves it behind

Waypoint 2 to 2
Miles: 0.5 - 0.6
Elevation change: +50 feet

Turn west (left) and follow the snow-covered road for 0.1 mile until you reach a location from which you can ascend southwest (left) onto a ridge (3). There is no landmark at this location, but the exact location is not critical. You can start to climb up the ridge from a number of places in the vicinity of the road junction (2).

Waypoint 2 to 4
Miles: 0.6 - 1.0
Elevation change: +300 feet

Ascend the ridge to the southwest for 0.4 mile until you reach a high point (4).

Image of first ridge The first ridge

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 1.0 - 1.5
Elevation change: +150, -50 feet

Ski west along the ridge for 0.5 mile until you reach the next high point (5).

Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 1.5 - 2.1
Elevation change: +50, -50 feet

Continue slightly north of west along the ridge for 0.6 mile, passing over a very minor high point until you reach Peak 7276 (6).

Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 2.1 - 2.3
Elevation change: -50 feet

Descend southwest along a ridge for 0.2 mile until you reach a low point (7) on the ridge. Here, a clearing in the trees affords a view north and a great place for lunch.

Image of great place to enjoy lunch and the view Great place to enjoy lunch and the view

Waypoint 7 to 9
Miles: 2.3 - 2.9
Elevation change: +150 feet

Continue southwest on the ridge, at first level and then climbing for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach a high point (9). In this section, just before you begin to climb, you will have a great view to the east of the Dardanelles.

Image looking east toward the Dardanelles View east of the Dardanelles

Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 2.9 - 3.4
Elevation change: -200 feet

At the high point (9) it is critical that you turn south (left) and not west (right).

Turn south and ski down tree-covered, nondescript terrain and then along an almost level ridge for a total of 0.5 mile until you reach the location where you must turn west to get on the next ridge (10). Look for a road on the ridge as you leave the nondescript terrain and begin to ski on the almost level ridge; the cut of the road through the trees should be visible.

As you ski south on the road, keep a sharp lookout for a blue diamond on a tree that marks the point where you must turn west. This is also where the slope of the ridge you are on begins to increase. As noted in the tour description, if you miss this turn you will probably intersect the highway about 1.1 miles east of the designated end point.

Waypoint 10 to 11
Miles: 3.4 - 4.5
Elevation change: -350 feet

Turn west and descend gradually in a generally southwest direction on the ridge for 1.1 miles until you reach level terrain and road junction (11). In this section you will probably see the road in places, but not everywhere so care must be taken to recognize the location of the road junction.

Image of skiers on broad ridgeTerrain along most of the ridges is mild

Route Via Road

The following describes how to end the tour by descending along a road.

Waypoint 11 to 12
Miles: 4.5 - 5.0
Elevation change: -150 feet

Find the road that heads slightly east of south and descend it for 0.5 mile until you reach a road junction (12). To find the road, look for its cut through the trees immediately after reaching the level terrain described in the previous section. The road is narrow and relatively steep in places.

Waypoint 12 to 15
Miles: 5.0 - 5.4
Elevation change: -150 feet

Turn south (right) and follow the road for 0.4 mile to the end point (15).

Route Via Woods and Clearing

The following describes how to end the tour by skiing a short distance along a ridge before descending a relatively steep wooded section to a clearing and then skiing down the clearing to the end point.

Waypoint 11 to 13
Miles: 4.5 - 5.0
Elevation change: +50 feet

Continue slightly west of south on a broad ridge for 0.5 mile until you reach a flat area a short distance before a very low, broad knob (13). There is a road in this section but it is unlikely that you will see it.

Image of ski tracks Gliding along ridges makes this tour a dream

Waypoint 13 to 14
Miles: 5.0 - 5.3
Elevation change: -150 feet

Descend south for 0.3 mile until you reach the top of a clearing (14). Although not shown as a clearing on the map, mileage point 14 is located at the northwest end of a clearing that was created by a clear-cut.

The route between mileage points 13 and 14 passes through less densely wooded areas than elsewhere in the area. If in doubt about your route, error by being too far east because you don't want to miss the clearing.

Waypoint 14 to 15
Miles: 5.3 - 5.6
Elevation change: -300 feet

Enjoy the final descent east down the clearing for 0.3 mile until you reach the end point (15). You will need to re-enter the woods a very short distance before reaching the end point.

Print version of map for tour