Buzzard’s Roost Hike

Our route to Buzzards Roost. The red line was us going out to Buzzards Roost and the Blue Line was us coming back.


The main goal of this hike was to get a geocache on Buzzard’s Roost.  We’d been eyeing this cache for over a year.  It had never been found.  It was on a remote peak that was little visited.   That morning mom dropped Sean and Scott off at the Lower Lola Montez Lake trailhead at 7:30am.   It was very cold but sunny and also happened to be our wedding anniversary!

At the trailhead, just off highway 80 on the north side, across from Sugar Bowl. We’re pointing to Buzzard’s Roost.

We started off at a quick pace and that led Scott to mistakenly estimate that we’d finish the hike by 11am.  Hmmm.  That was 6 hours off.  We didn’t get back until 5:30pm.

Happily hiking along the trail all bundled up in 35 degree weather.

The trail was a mixture of single track and fire roads.  The fire roads pass several very remote cabins.  One was very fancy with an automatic gate and grand entrance.

The most remote cabin had a funny design on the tree.


After about 5 miles from the start, we arrived at Lower Lola Montez lake.

Sean standing out on the big rock at Lower Lola Montez


We rested for a bit and then went to find a geocache.

Looking toward Sugar Bowl


Looking east to Castle Peak. Sean and I climbed this a couple years back.


Looking down at Lower Lola and north towards Buzzard’s Roost


From here you’d think we were on the summit but we still had a long way and lots of adventure to go.  As we headed from back from this small rocky outcropping next to the lake two hunters walked by.  They were the only other hikers we saw for the morning.

From the lake we headed up the “Hole in the Ground” trail expecting to soon see a junction with a small trail heading north west up the canyon.  This is where the adventure really started.  The trail we were seeking was on both the DeLorme and OSM maps – both credible sources.  We never found the junction.  So, we decided to bushwack our way up the canyon.  We were so grateful to have our Garmin GPS to guide us in the general direction.  After a while of wading through thick heather, we had to cross the creek in the small canyon to continue any further.  This required crawling on all fours through thick bushes over the rocky creek.  Somehow we made it across.  Going up the other side what do we see but a wonderful sight!  A poor excuse for a trail, but it had switchbacks and gave us great peace of mind that this was in fact the original trail on the map.  We were so happy!   The trail led us to the top of the canyon and onto big wide 4WD roads.  It was up here that we first came across some snow – left over from the first snowfall of the season.


From here on we were on and off 4WD roads until we got about .2 miles from the Buzzard’s Roost summit.  There was no trail the last .2 miles, just scrambling straight up the steep rocky slope.  In this general area was the prize we’d been seeking all along.  The Buzzard Roost Pi geocache.  It had never been found despite being placed 1 1/2 years ago.  It a puzzle geocache (you have to solve the puzzle online to determine the coordinates to the cache).

We found it!

This photo of geocache location is the exact same location and angle (minus our mugs) as the black and white cover of the Yuba Trails volume 1, published in 1985.

From here we made our way to the summit.  Frankly, the summit is not very dramatic itself, but still provides wonderful 360 views of the high Sierras.

Buzzard’s Roost peak

From highway 80 the peak looks to be covered in brown dirt but it is actually dead Mule’s Ear plant – visible in the photo.

We ate lunch on top.  Sean brought his healthy pre-made salad expecting to find a fork inside.  Oops!  No fork.  We ended up using the plier on Scott’s Leatherman knife.  Yuk!  But it worked.

Pliers and salad

From the top we then headed back down along pretty much the same route to the top of that darned canyon.  We wanted to mark this old litte used trail that we were so ecstatic to find so we placed a new geocache.  Here’s the link to it:  At the time of this writing nobody has found it yet.  OK…it is pretty remote and on a tiny trail.  But still, you should find it!!!

Came upon this Bearing Tree while going back to the top of the canyon


We bushwacked our way from the top of the canyon over to Upper Lola Montez lake.  The lake is not as accessible as Lower and more remote with no formal trail to it.  At this point some other caching friends from the Bay Area called us for a Lifeline on an urban cache in San Jose.  It was so strange to get a phone call way up here on the cliffs by the lake.

Refilling water at Upper Lola Montez

As we headed back down to the lower lake there were many many ducks (cairns) to guide the way.

If you look carefully, there are 7 ducks in this photo.

We saw on family of backpackers at the lower lake.  From there we made our way back to the trailhead.  We had a great welcoming by Alexander and Katie who walked out on the trail to greet us.

Our stats from the GPS for the day


Overall this a super fun trip filled with lots of adventure and reward for finding the Buzzard Roost cache.

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