Junipero Serra Peak
Junipero Serra Peak is a peak of many names. It has also been named just “Serra Peak” (what the register says), or Santa Lucia Peak.. or even Pimkolam Summit (this was the Native American name). The peak is nearly 6,000′ in elevation, making it the highest peak in the Ventana (and in Monterey County). That’s notable to me because I think it might be the closest peak of this stature to the San Luis Obispo area (still looking into that).
It is very accessible via the trail from Indians, which is slightly overgrown the entire way, but very runnable. Also notable on this fine journey was the absence of ticks (in March at least) and just one small stand of nascent poison oak. We were fortunate to be able to go on a day when rain was predicted because the flanks of this mountain are fairly exposed until you reach the thin coulter pine forest near the top. The clouds lifted from the summit just before we arrived, keeping temperatures perfect the whole way.
The register had very few signatures since 2009, but I suspect this may have to do with the fact that the highest peak is actually the Eastern Peak, and not the one with the lookout tower (hence people may have turned around at the tower and not signed the book). This area is a rugged region, and offers spectacular vistas of sand stone rock formations – from the summit AND along the beautiful drive in.
If you’ve never been to the end of the road here, I highly recommend the drive (between February and May) – even if you don’t plan to go to the summit. It is somewhat of an adventure just driving in: there are two stream fords that were easy for David’s VW beetle. These fords would be impassable or closed after a heavy rain. We actually circumvented the fords on the way in by taking the dirt route (accidentally).