Calico Peak

date ? (Private Trip)

By: Bob Michael


Here is another peak we've all been past umpteen zillion times, it's about time somebody climbed it and write about it. Not List-worthy, because of a road and electronic junk on the summit, but a fun hike through some bizarre, colorful geology, with a nice canyon.

The route I used goes up Odessa Canyon, (one) mile east of Calico off the paved Ghost Town Road loop. Apprehensive about pockets of soft sand, I found a good place to park about 1/2 mile from the pavement; I could have gone another 1/2 mile before the road turns into extreme 4WD. The topo does show the "Doran Scenic Drive" up the canyon, but this road was destroyed by floods long ago; a few strips and patches of asphalt are all that's left. The roadbed is now a bouldery 4WD "route" only attempted by the kinds of idiots who are into major vehicle abuse; splashes and dribbles of oil on the boulders tell the story, blood-stains from wounded machinery. Spectacular lower Odessa Canyon is carved into the Barstow Formation, terrestrial basin-fill sediments and interbedded volcanics from the Miocene era, a geologically "happening" time in southern California. Loaded with trace minerals, this formation tends to put on a good show when eroded. Some of the colors are hardly of this planet - I especially liked the light blue rock drizzled with dark maroon "syrup"

Above the narrow, incised lower part of the canyon, it broadens out, and fairly good, traveled dirt roads come in from east and west. Just keep hiking on the main road in the drainage, and where it steepens for the final ascent of the peak, an iron gate bars casual traffic. The last stretch of the road is insanely steep; I think I'd much rather hike it than be a white-knuckled captive in a vehicle.

Views from the summit - unfortunately a large robot electronic site - range across the military reservation to the north, which actually has some pretty nice-looking peaks over 5,000'; Pilot Knob, rugged Eagle Crags, and (yet another) Granite Mountain. The only familiar DPS summit to be seen nearby is East Ord in the massive, hulking Ord Mountains south across the Mojave River valley. I would like to have lingered on the top, but a pulse of El Nino was approaching from the southwest; I just made it to the pavement on Ghost Town Road before a fierce rain squall hit.

PS. Restaurant recommendation: Idle Spurs Steak House, old Hiway 58, north Barstow. Nice people, fun atmosphere, excellent service, and some of the best down-home food anywhere. Absolutely the best restaurant between LA and Vegas. Editor' s note : Calico Peak is the highpoint of the Calico Mountains. As Bob mentions, the highpoint "hosts" a lot of radio gear/junk (seen from I15). I left a register on an almost-as-high satellite summit to the northeast when I was there last year.

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