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  • Writer's pictureDan Koellen AI6XG

Mount Lincoln W6/NS-149 Activation

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Looking east from Mt. Lincoln, Tinker Knob W6/NS-121 is hiding behind Anderson Peak

Summit Trip Summary

Distance: ~ 3 mi one way

Transport: Hiking

Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

Time: ~1.5 hours one way

Route: Via Pacific Crest Trail

Access: PCT Trailhead at Old Donner Pass Road 39.31466, -120.32725

Parking: ~10 cars at Trailhead, more room at Old Donner Pass Road


Activation Summary

Rig: KX2

Bands/Modes: 20 mtr - CW, 40 mtr - CW

Antenna: zip cord 20 mtr dipole

Antenna Support: Mast on Snow Fence

Cell Service: Very Good (Verizon)

RF Noise: Quiet


Mount Lincoln is a ski summit with plenty of room for activation. On the summit there is a ski lift and wonderful views of Lake Mary, Donner Lake, Anderson Peak and Castle Peak W6/SN-038. Getting to Mt. Lincoln along the Pacific Crest Trail provides a mild but steady grade since the PCT is primarily a backpacking trail. Like most summits the final approach is steep whether you take the service road or attack the north face. It is a relatively short hike so there is plenty of time for activation and maybe more hiking or another activation.

There is plenty of parking off of Old Donner Pass Road where the PCT crosses the road. There are also about 10 spaces available near the trailhead. There are porta-potties available near the trailhead, complements of local trail angels. The PCT is straight ahead into the wooded area, there is a trail that veers to the left that goes to the old rail easement. You will ascend the trail and after about a mile start going through Sugar Bowl ski runs and past the Mt. Judah Loop turnoff. Continuing on the PCT, you will pass by Mt. Judah and eventually be walking along a saddle facing Mt. Lincoln after about 2.5 miles of hiking. At this point (39.29063, -120.32297) you want to depart from the PCT to make your way up to the summit of Mt. Lincoln by heading west off of the trail.

There are two ways up to the summit. You can go straight up the north face to the summit. It is steep but not impossible assuming you have poles and good hiking boots. The alternative is the service road up the northwest side. There can be quite a bit of snow on the service road through June, sometimes July which will force you to go up the north face. That is what happened to me when I made the track in the above map. My preference is definitely the service road, especially when going back down. Going down the north face is treacherous but achievable if you have poles and good hiking boots, and zig-zag your way down.

Once you are on the summit you will see a ski lift, snow fencing, a few small utility structures, metal posts and a large open area. Very rarely do I encounter anyone on the peak. During my activations I set up my HF antenna on of the many support structures and poles on the summit. Verizon cell coverage is very good, enough to spot and to keep an eye on any other activators on SOTA spotter. From the summit you look down on Lake Mary and Sugar Bowl, look out to Castle Peak W6/SN-038, Mt. Judah, Donner Lake and Anderson Peak.

Simply return the way you came back to the trail head.

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