Red Mountain
Slope Soaring Site
Cisco Grove, California

Description:  At 7840 feet (2390 m), this is a spectacular site overlooking the Sierra mountains.  An antenna farm occupies the very peak, and the mountain forms three wide bowls from the peak.  The largest bowl faces south-east, and is at least 3000 feet down a steep but walkable slope toward I-80.  Between the south-east bowl and the north-west bowl is a razor-back ridge  that seems to make a nice site for dynamic soaring.  With no wind what-so-ever in the valleys, this site will have a respectable breeze and great lift, thanks to the enormous slope.  However, this is a site for experts only;  the altitude makes the planes fly faster, and landing is a bit dicey with all the rock (yep they are red).  In addition, I'd say that four wheel drive is a requirement to summit this site, and it's a seven mile drive in on dirt roads from the freeway.

Location:  Auburn is about 30 miles east of Sacramento on I-80.  Drive an additional 45 miles past Auburn, going east on I-80, (about 21 miles west of Truckee) and turn off at Cisco Grove, which is about 3.8 miles past the junction of I-80 and I-20.  Cross to the north side of the freeway, drive a block left/west, and turn right/north onto Fordyce Lake Road, a dirt road.  Set your odometer, and at 2.6 and 3.2 miles is the Woodchuck Flat campground.  At the fork at 4.3 miles, continue left toward Fordyce Lake.  At the fork at 5.1 miles, continue left again toward Fordyce Lake.  Just beyond this fork the road forks again but with multiple paths.  Pick the major left/west road (most of the left/west roads seem to converge within a few hundred feet again), and follow the main road to the antenna farm at the summit, about 7.2 miles in.  From the last fork, the road is rocky and steep in places, in several areas vaguely resembling a creek bed, but gets better.  There are several large and impressive steel gates, but these didn't appear funtional and were open.

Flying the site and cautions:  Since the main flyable bowl faces south-east, I'd say that the best time to fly would be morning or early afternoon with the sun on the slope and adiabatic lift powering the slope.  A northwest wind probably would be fine for the smaller (but still huge) north-west bowl.  The north-east bowl is so steep and cragy and huge, that I didn't want to stand close enough to really check it out.  I'd hate to think what this place would be like with any serious wind--scary.  Anyway, with light conditions, launch facing south-east, then dive to the back side over the north-west bowl to check out the gradient.  This site at first glance seems to have nothing but rocks to land in, but just down from the top there are areas where bushes cover the rocks completely, and make a reasonable landing site.  The bushes have a fair about of spring to them, so watch for the rebound pitching the tail back into the rocks if you put your plane in hot.  You can also belly-flop the plane onto a pile of  rocks with little damage to the plane if you need to--the rocks are amazingly light weight and scatter when you land your plane.

Bring warm clothes at this altitude.  Yes it does snow here--a lot.  And the snow sticks around until nearly summer.  From this site you can look north-east and see Grouse Ridge, another spectacular series of  experts-only soaring sites.  If you look directly west about 16 miles, you can see the bare Basin Peak and Castle Peak (just above the tiplet) with the rocky saddle ridge between them (another DS site?).

Scott Hewett's comments.

Phil Seargent's comments.

Show me a Yahoo street map.   The last part of the road to the peak is missing in this map, so draw a line from the end of the right hand road to the end of the left hand road in the center of the map.  Where the new line joins the left road is the peak of Red Mountain.

Show me a USGS spycam photo.  The circle in the center of the picture is the antenna farm.  At the corner of the "L" in the road is where the above pictures were taken.  You can easily make out the three bowls.

Enjoy,
Rob Crockett
12/99