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Keddie Ridge

Backcountry Travelogues, by Phil

djacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks of the Sierra Nevada grace us with one final appearance before disappearing beneath the Modoc Plateau. This area is the northernmost exposure of Sierra Nevada granite!

The nearest town to our trailhead is Greenville in the Indian Valley, and just one mile north of Greenville is the Greenville County Park Campground. Rather than spend a primitive night at the trailhead, my cohort John Matkoski and I spent the night here before donning our packs and departing for Deerheart Lake the following morning. We recently found the campground open to dispersed, off-season camping…free of cost…no water or trash containers…campfire permit required…and if you stay, please note there’s an active shooting range nearby. Members of both the Sharpshooters and Indian Valley Gun Range start shooting early in the morning and continue until late in the evening.

Greenville located on Highway 89 just south of Lake Almador. Photo by Phil Akers
I love towns that time forgot, like Greenville located on Highway 89 just south of Lake Almador. Anna’s Café on the main drag is an excellent choice for tasty home-style grub. Try their sausage, biscuits, gravy and country taters…hard to spit out!
Pliny Elder bottle in the woods, photo by Phil Akers
I also love sharing a respectable, double IPA with excellent company, like John, who shares similar adventurous passions

Recognizing its rich gold history, Greenville hosts Gold Digger Days the third Saturday each July. The celebration starts early with a pancake breakfast, followed by a parade, then all-day attractions galore including barbeque, tons of other food, arts and crafts, and other scheduled events such as large softball and horseshoe tournaments – got my attention. Come evening, the town really lets the hair down with a street dance until midnight, next year again featuring the popular country-rock band Northern Traditionz. At the park next to the campground I counted 18 competition horseshoe pits! I’m marking my calendar and plan on pitching shoes and dancing in the street next year!

Indian Valley, photo by Phill Akers
Early morning views of Greenville and the entirety of Indian Valley, peacefully resting beneath an inversion layer.
Homer hills and landscape, photo by Phil Akers
Homer Lake no longer lives up to past reputations. It was a legendary rainbow trout fishery back in the day. It has now become dependent on plants which are sparse these days.

Protected by miles of rough travel, unmarked roads and trails, Keddie Ridge’s main attractions are hiking, hunting, peak bagging, photography, swimming, and…of course, fishing…that‘s what lures me. It is home to three remote alpine lakes – Homer, Hidden, and Deerheart Lakes – all sitting above 6,000 feet/elevation. Fishing is possible and Keddie peak is a rewarding peak bagging destination. The original trailhead is located at Homer Lake but this is no longer accessible by vehicle. The road is now closed ~2.5 miles before Homer Lake so plan on hiking an additional five miles roundtrip just to reach the original trailhead. Once at Homer, it’s a 5.2-mile roundtrip hike to Deerheart Lake. Halfway between Homer and Deerheart, Hidden Lake is perched 300-feet above the trail, reached by a spur trail to the left as you’re going in. Inviting backpacking campsites can be found at both Homer and Deerheart lakes.

Trail to Deeheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
The trail to Deerheart Lake takes you through forest of Douglas fir and Jeffery pine, areas of wide vistas, and skirts boxed areas of lush vegetation. In this photo, you can faintly see the trail going left-to-right up the ridge.
Mountain Meadows Reservoir, Photo by Phil Akers
Gazing down on the drained Mountain Meadows Reservoir. This vista is much nicer when the reservoir has water.

As mentioned above, Keddie Ridge is the farthest reach of the Sierra Nevada, and Deerheart Lake is the northernmost lake of the Sierra Nevada. The rock here is very old, obviously older than the Cascades and volcanic tablelands of the Modoc Plateau to the north, and even more ancient than the granite slabs and domes of the southern Sierra. The geology here is fascinating!

Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Scouting Deerheart Lake, trying to gauge depth and structure
Deerheart Lake by Phil Akers
Deerheart Lake

Deerheart Lake provides fast action for brook trout which are native to eastern North America. Introduced to California in the 1800’s, these fish have been planted seemingly everywhere. Wild brook trout – “brookies” – in the Sierra still occupy hundreds of lakes and hundreds of miles of streams. They’re hardy and very aggressive eaters. Like other char, they spawn in the fall and don’t require clean gravel beds in flowing water to spawn. Brookies are capable of natural reproduction in the substrates of many high mountain lakes. They prefer colder water though, and don’t do very well in California waters lying much below 4000 feet/elevation.

Brook trout, photo by Phil Akers
The fall is when brook trout display vivid spawning colors. Many concede that pan-sized brook trout from our high mountain lakes have the finest flavor of all California trout.
Brook terout, photo by Phil Akers
In addition to normal trout possession and bag limits, there’s a “bonus bag limit” for brook trout. In the Sierra and North Coast Districts, anglers can keep an additional 10 brook trout less than 8-inches total length. South of Interstate 80, an additional 10 brook trout less than 10-inches may be kept in addition to the normal five-trout limit. So don’t forget the frying pan!

Hopefully I’ve provided another destination you may want to plan a trip to. I certainly recommend this little hideaway, especially a late fall trip like John and I just did. If hiking to Deerheart Lake remember the road to the trailhead is closed, has been for years and looks like permanently. This adds hiking mileage to your trip. Also, please note the last few miles of roads are unmarked, and although the trails are discernible, none of them are marked either. The road is blocked at an intersection where you park and begin your hike on the road bearing left. Plan well, be safe, and enjoy cooking up them succulent brookies from Keddie Ridge.

Phil “Flip” Akers is a diverse angler and outdoor adventurer. For over 20 years he has backpacked, packed llamas and fly-fished the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, venturing into the farthest reaches of our wilderness areas pursuing quality trout and solitude. He enjoys sharing his experiences including tips, techniques, outdoor cooking recipes, and storytelling. He is certified in wilderness first response and rescue including swiftwater rescue, technical rope and technical animal rescue.


Fishing Reports

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A Hot Summer’s Day on Chico Creek
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On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
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Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
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Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
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 Brian Buckingham with one of the larger fish from this section. This trout, estimated at 2 lbs., was caught near the BLM campground on the west shore six miles down the JC Boyle Dam on the Klamath River in Southern Oregon. Photo by author
By Trouteagle
03/02/15 -- Year round trout action can be found on the Klamath River within the 20 or so miles of free flow within Oregon and California. While fishing below the flumes at the JC Boyle powerhouse, it can be difficult to know just when...Full Story
The Mystery of the Middle Fork, Part IV
Jim Broshears, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
By Jim Broshears
11/10/14 -- This trip was to be the final chapter in the saga that began three years ago but is actually over 20 years in the making. As Bruce, Tuck and I journeyed back to the Middle Fork of the Feather River we made...Full Story
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Trailhead Tales by Jim Broshears
10/14/14 -- For those of us who prefer to fish the rugged and remote streams and rivers for the elusive wild trout, rock climbing is a skill that is required to reach the special places where catching the big one is a “sure thing.” The skills...Full Story
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
german brown trout in Modoc creek. MyOutdoorBuddy.com
By Lea Huetteman
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers, myoutdoorbuddy.com
Article and photos by Phil Akers
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
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Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
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By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story
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01/26/14 -- Meet Phideaux, a 110-pound neurotic chocolate Lab. His name is pronounced “Fido” but it is spelled “Phideaux” because he is a Cajun dog. Anyway, last summer Phideaux took his human (that’s me) on a trout hunt up into...Full Story

 

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