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Twin Sisters (North) - Do not repeat this hike or you might end up in jail!

Published by 360 Pro , 16 May 2017, 19h07.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike:12 May 2017
Hiking grading: T2 - Mountain hike
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA 
Height gain: 600 m 1968 ft.
Height loss: 600 m 1968 ft.
Access to start point:Lake Madigan, Wild Horse Valley Road, Napa

I actually wanted to do another ski tour on this day, but the weather forecast predicted snow fall for the Sierra Nevada over night and cloudy skies until noon. Therefore, I decided to do something in a coastal mountain range instead, where the weather was supposed to be very sunny. I didn't have much time to prepare a hike and don't really have a todo list for the coastal mountains (yet) which I could fall back to. For some inspiration I consulted Bob Burd's site and saw that he hiked to the Twin Sisters North Peak a few days ago. He doesn't didn't have the story about his hike written yet, but published a few pictures and a gps track. So I downloaded his track and printed it together with the US topo map. All I did as preparation was a quick "sanity check" to make sure it wasn't too crazy of a hike for me (=too long or too difficult). I also quickly searched the www for some other reports to the Twin Sisters North Peak, but couldn't find anything (which should at least have made me a little suspicious). I didn't worry too much about it, but drove to Lake Madigan early in the morning and was eager to start my hike.

There are a few "parking spots" close to a big gate there and that's where I left my car. But wait, there are a lot of signs telling me that I'm not supposed to go any further from here. "Private Road", "No trespassing", "Property of the city of Vallejo", "no hiking, no fishing, no hunting" etc.

Now what? I usually respect the 'no trespassing signs' and don't like to do 'illegal hikes' at all and wouldn't have considered it knowing it is not legal. But here I am, early in the morning with no other plan for a hike than this one in my pocket. As far as I can tell it is not the property of a private person but the city of Vallejo. What's so bad about hiking a little bit on city land? In Switzerland this would be perfectly legal and ... nobody seems to be around at these wee hours. After pondering for quite a while, I decide to take the risk and face the consequences if caught (not really knowing what they would be though).

I hike along the paved road next to Lake Madigan for a while. After the small bridge over the river connecting Lake Madigan and Lake Frey, I leave the road and turn left, uphill towards P. 2137. I encounter some minor bushwhack near a small drainage there, but get through it without too much pain, first the left side of this drainage is less dense then the right side. After the bushes end, I take the direct way up the grass slope to shortly before the top of P.2137, where I find and follow an old dirt road to the top of this point which has some sort of a telecommunication installation.

In order to get to the Twin Sisters North Peak I then walk down to the Green Valley in northeastern direction and back up to the north ridge of the Twin Sisters via a clear use trail. From here I then follow the left side of the ridge for a while and eventually get to the ridge itself. There I find an obvious (old) path which leads to the top. First the path is easy to follow, the closer I get to the summit the more Manzanita bushes I have to fight. It is worth fighting all the way to the very top of the peak where I can enjoy a very nice view to the Bay, the Delta, San Francisco, Sacramento and in particular "the luxury villa" on top of Twin Sisters South Peak, known as "The house above the morning clouds".

After a rather long break I fight my way back through the Manzanita thicket, only to notice that the back pocket of my pants (where I usually carry my wallet in) was turned inside out and empty. Even though I have little hope to find my wallet in this terrain, I fight the way through the ticket to the summit and back two more times only to find out that for some unknown reason, I had put my wallet into my backpack before the hike today... Oh well, Manzanita Bushwhaks are almost as much fun as "Legföhren-Fights";-)

I then retrace my steps back to the car. After getting back onto the road near Lake Madigan it happens. I get caught by an employee of the city of Vallejo, who clearly tells me in a stern voice what I know: "You are trespassing". I don't pretend to not know but admit my wrong doing and apologize. He doesn't want to hear "my story why", had already noticed my car in front of the gate, written down my license plate, knew how long I was here and probably has been looking for me for quite a while. I'm not trying to argue with him and I'm glad he tells me that he doesn't want me to go to jail. I have to promise that I will never come back again. After escorting me out of the city property he then also requested "Tell all your hiking friends that this hike is illegal and that I will call the Sheriff on hiker for trespassing". With this report, I guess I fulfilled this request. Anyway, thanks for not putting me into jail..

Hike partners: 360

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Comments (6)

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Roald says: No trespassing...
Sent 16 May 2017, 19h39
Hi 360
Indeed, the possibility to go hiking almost anywhere is something I really appreciate here in Switzerland! In the US you pretty much have to stick to state parks or national parks.
Best regards,

Sent 17 May 2017, 10h37
Is there a special reason, why it is not allowed to go hiking on the property of Vallejo?

360 Pro says: RE:
Sent 17 May 2017, 15h20
I don't know the specific reasons why the city wants to keep people out here, but since it's city owned land they don't really need a reason. In this particular case it could be possible that the two lakes in this area are used as source for drinking water, but I'm not sure why they want to keep hikers out here.

However, as Roald indicates in his comment, the trespassing law in the US is quite different from the one in Switzerland. Here in the US you can only enter "open public land" without potentially getting in trouble. If a land owner (this can be a private person, the city, the state, ...) puts up a keep out / no trespassing signs it's illegal to enter.

As kopfsalat likes to quote, in Switzerland there is the ZGB Art. 699, which specifically gives you the right "to tresspass": Das Betreten von Wald und Weide und die Aneignung wildwachsender Beeren, Pilze u. dgl. sind in ortsüblichem Umfange jedermann gestattet".

I don't particularly like the US way how "trespassing" is handled and how serious it is to break that law, but fortunately there is plenty of "open public land" here and many many peaks to climb legally :-)

Arbutus says: No trespassing
Sent 18 May 2017, 09h17
Trespassing on city property is a big deal, while obstructing justice, lying to the media, and endangering western civilization are just fine.

Next time you should start singing "This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

(I didn't just break a copyright law, did I?)

360 Pro says: RE:No trespassing
Sent 18 May 2017, 16h42

"Quod non est licitum lege, necessitas facit licitum"
... was made for you and me ♬♫♫

Arbutus says: RE:No trespassing
Sent 18 May 2017, 22h23
You could have said that to the employee. Then you could have convinced him that Latin is the official language of Switzerland -- which is exactly why the Swiss Guards got their job at the Holy See. :))

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