Walker Ridge and BearValley

Looking north toward Indian Valley reservoir with Snow Mountain (6,542 ft.) and St. John Mountain (6,719 ft.) in the right distance. For more on St. John Mountain go to the bottom of this page.

Looking north along the ridgetop toward Cold Spring Mountain (3,566 ft.) The vegetation here is typical of soils found on substrates with a high percentage of serpentinite

There appears to be a seep here which accounts for the patch of brass buttons. The conifers are gray pines

The roads here are graded but a spring rain can make motor vehicle travel troublesome.

A miniature forest of McNabb's cypress grows on the ridge's ultramafic soils.

The ceanothus (white flowers) and the gray pines are a characteristic of serpentinitic soils.

Bear Valley from the top of Walker Ridge. The landscape is the result of subduction events and plate convergence where the former oceanic crust and mantle fragments (Walker Ridge) had collided with a continental margin, and, on the far side of Bear Valley, the upturning of Great Valley sediments, which were once deposited on the bottom of a sea. . The result is totally different vegetation on each side of the valley. Looking to the east, the far side of the valley, is an oak (Quecus douglasii) woodland growing in the soils formed from marine sediments. On the near side are serpentinitic soils formed from the ultramafic rock which had risen from beneath the ocean floor. This vegetation is dominated by leather oaks (Quercus durata), Ceanothus spp., gray pine, and other chaparral plants. The taller conifers are knobcone pines.

The descent down Walker Ridge on Brim Road leads to the north end of Bear Valley. The Bear Valley Buttes, seen on the left, are upturned marine sediments of the Great Valley sequence.

Looking north toward the Bear Valley Buttes. The flowers in the foreground are tidy tips.

Looking west toward Walker Ridge from the valley floor. That's Bear Creek and some of the local residents. There are only a handful of ranches here and the human population is scant.

California poppies and tidy tips on the valley floor, Spring, 1982.

Owl's clover, lupines, and a few poppies grow in the strip between the fence and road. Grazing is rarely an enviromental factor here.

Bear Creek downstream from the valley. The reddish shrubs are tamarisks, very thirsty invaders from Europe and Asia.

Walker Ridge-Bear Valley Loop

NOTE: The marked route indicator doesn't necessarily follow Walker Ridge Road and Bartlett Springs Road as shown on the map all that precisely. But, when you are on the ridge it's usually not to hard to stay on course as the ridge top route is more heavily traveled as are the roads down to the reservoir and Bartlett Springs. There was also some signage as of a couple years ago. The route notes and elevations are for doing the course clockwise starting at the junction of SR 20 and Bear Valley Road.

ADDENDUM: This is the gate for the road to the top of St. John Mountain (6719 ft.) The gate is at about 1700 ft. in elevation. That's a 5000 ft. climb/downhill in about 8 miles on this dirt road. If you're in Bear Valley, you can head up the Leesville-Lodoga Road to Stony Ford, then turn west to Fouts Springs (27 miles) and then north for about 2 miles to this gate (Forest Route 18NO6). NOTE: I have never done the ride up the mountain.